The Gospel accounts mention a man called John the Baptist, who preached in Judea regarding God’s Kingdom. Is the Bible’s record of this man accurate? Consider:
The Bible says: “John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying: ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (Matthew 3:1, 2) Can this statement be confirmed by secular sources? Yes.
The first-century historian Flavius Josephus described a man named “John, surnamed the Baptist,” who “exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives,” to practice “piety towards God,” and “to join in baptism.”—Jewish Antiquities, Book XVIII.
The Bible relates that John reproved Herod Antipas, who was district ruler in Galilee and Perea. Herod was nominally a Jew professing to be under the Law. John criticized Herod for marrying his half brother’s wife Herodias. (Mark 6:18) This detail likewise finds support outside the Bible.
Historian Josephus said that Antipas “[fell] in love with Herodias” and “brazenly broached to her the subject of marriage.” Herodias accepted and left her husband to marry Antipas.
The Bible reports that “the people of Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country around the Jordan were going out to [John], and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”—Matthew 3:5, 6.
Josephus likewise supports this detail, writing that people came in “crowds” to see John and that “they were aroused [or, uplifted] to the highest degree by his sermons.”
Clearly, the first-century historian Josephus viewed John the Baptist as a real person. So can we.