John the Baptist (Late 1st century 6 BC-36 AD) was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century AD. John is revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith and Mandaeism. He is called a prophet by all of these faiths, and is honored as a saint in many Christian traditions.
Other titles for John include John the Forerunner in Eastern Christianity and "the prophet John" (Yaḥyā) in Islam. To clarify the meaning of "Baptist", he is sometimes alternatively called John the Baptizer.
John used baptism as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus. Some scholars believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John.
The New Testament texts in which John is mentioned portray him as rejecting this idea, although several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John. John the Baptist is also mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus.
Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes, who expected an apocalypse and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism, although no direct evidence substantiates this.
According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus' coming. John is also identified as the spiritual successor of the prophet Elijah.
John was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded by Herod Antipas sometime between 28 and 36 AD after John rebuked him for divorcing his wife, Phasaelis, and unlawfully taking Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I.