Biblical Archaeology Review 31:1, January/February 2005

Where John Baptized

Bethany beyond the Jordan

By Rami G. Khouri

It may or may not be the spot in the Jordan River where John the Baptist baptized Jesus, but Byzantine Christians seemed to think it was.

And it’s not on the western shore of the river, but on the eastern shore—in modern Jordan.

When it comes to locating places mentioned in the Gospels, the Byzantine Christians are often worth taking seriously. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the supposed site of Jesus’ tomb only in the fourth century A.D., and for many years its identification was thought to be improbable, if not fanciful, because it was deep inside Jerusalem’s Old City walls. (In ancient times, graves were typically outside a city’s walls.) But the Byzantine identification has now been confirmed archaeologically.a

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