Anyone have any recommended books or materials on St. John the Baptist? Because there are some wacky theories about him going around (such as him and Jesus being the same person), and also historically there were supposed followers of St. John the Baptist who rejected Christ (such as the Mandeans to this day).
Be wary of materials by Bart D. Ehrman because he is a differing, non-traditional textual critic.
You’ll probably want Catholic materials since they deal with this stuff in a better, more Christian manner. I found one that refers to the early Church’s interest in St. John the Baptist and why his position was revered. It also deals with both Eastern and Western tradition on the matter.
Not Tradition as in the authority of the Church or anything, but it probably means the various legends surrounding St. John the Baptist as a religious figure of interest and perhaps even the various relics. (There are other claims to various relics of his.)
14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying,[a] “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 Others said, “He is Elijah.” And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.” (St. Mark 6:14-15)
It is understandable that in a time when there were no printing press, telephone, radio, television, and internet people did not get instant notifications–St. John the Baptist came along, preached the Kingdom of God… as Jesus began His Ministry (Public Life) John got incarcerated and beheaded; those of the know clearly understood that Jesus, John’s relative, was not John raised from the dead. Others… well they had to wrap their heads around Jesus Preaching and Miracles… and easy conclusion (remember, Jews could not accept Jesus as the Messiah with Divine Powers) God raised John from the dead.
Read St. Luke 1:5-80 (the foretelling of the birth of both John and Jesus and their consequent birth–and Jesus’ first encounter with John):
39 And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. 40 And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary,[size=] the infant leaped in her womb[/size]. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and** blessed is the fruit of thy womb**. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, **the infant in my womb **leaped for joy.
Then we have Jesus’ Baptism (St. Matthew 3):
11 I indeed baptize you in the water unto penance, but he that shall come after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire.
13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice. Then he suffered him.
…as for the mandeans and the such, they are exercising their God-given rights to not accept and Belief (as perilous as that “choice” may be); however, the Truth of the matter is that John himself understood that he was but a precursor of the Word and that his ministry would only be necessary for the Messiah to be Revealed:
I indeed baptize you in the water unto penance, but he that shall come after me, is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire. (St. Matthew 3:11)
20 And he confessed, and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered: No. 22 They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said: I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaias. 24 And they that were sent, were of the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize, if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? 26 John answered them, saying: I baptize with water; but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. 27 The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. (St. John 1:20-27)
25 And there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews concerning purification: 26 And they came to John, and said to him: Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond the Jordan, to whom thou gavest testimony, behold he baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27 John answered, and said: A man cannot receive any thing, unless it be given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves do bear me witness, that I said, I am not Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride, is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth with joy because of the bridegroom’s voice. This my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. St. John 3:25-30)
St. John the Baptist understood that his ministry had to cease because there is no other name under Heaven by which all can be Saved–sadly, man is forever on a quest to “do it his way” so there will always be those who reject Christ!