The Indisputable Fact of the Baptism: The Problematic Consensus on John’s Baptism of Jesus
As there is now an emerging “Quest” for the historical John the Baptist, it is important to look at how previous quests have treated his baptism of Jesus. Often regarded as a virtually indisputable fact of history, the baptism is asserted almost blindly without any argumentation or with only a few minimal points in its favor. In this essay, the case for the baptism is briefly evaluated and found to be entirely lacking, hinged instead on problematic assumptions and errant uses of the criteria of authenticity. Disavowing these uses, there instead emerges a rather simple set of arguments in favor of the baptism being ahistorical. It is argued that we do not have enough evidence to find the baptism historical, which has drastic ramifications on those attempting to produce biographies of both Jesus and John.