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The same cannot be said of the apocryphal gospels, because the scant information they give of the Precursor is either copied from the canonical Gospels (and to these they can add no authority), or else is a mass of idle vagaries.
Zachary, the father of John the Baptist, was a priest of the course of Abia, the eighth of the twenty-four courses into which the priests were divided ( 1 Chronicles 24:7-19 ); Elizabeth, the Precursor's mother, "was of the daughters of Aaron", according to St.
And they made sign to his father, how he would have him called.
And demanding a writing table, he wrote, saying: John is his name. They were not aware that no better name could be applied (John, Hebrew; Jehohanan , i.e.
And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And Zachary seeing him, was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
And after those days, Elizabeth his wife conceived, and hid herself five months" (i, 23-24).
A tradition, which can be traced back to the time before the Crusades, points to the little town of Ain-Karim, five miles south-west of Jerusalem.
Finally, the fourth Gospel has this special feature, that it gives the testimony of St. Besides the indications supplied by these writings, passing allusions occur in such passages as Acts ; 19:1-6 ; but these are few and bear on the subject only indirectly.
To the above should be added that Josephus relates in his Jewish Antiquities (XVIII, v, 2), but it should be remembered that he is woefully erratic in his dates, mistaken in proper names, and seems to arrange facts according to his own political views; however, his judgment of John, also what he tells us regarding the Precursor's popularity, together with a few details of minor importance, are worthy of the historian's attention.
Zachary's home is designated only in a vague manner by St.
Luke : it was "a city of Juda", "in the hill-country" (I, 39).