John the Baptist (late 1st century BC – c. AD 30) was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the 20th century AD. John the Baptist is mentioned by the Roman Jewish historian Josephus and revered as a major religious figure in Christianity. He is considered a prophet and is honored as a saint in many Christian traditions. According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself, and the Gospels portray John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus' coming and prepares the people for Jesus' ministry. Jesus himself identifies John as "Elijah who is to come", which is a direct reference to the Book of Malachi (Malachi 4:5), that has been confirmed by the angel who announced John's birth to his father Zecharia. According to the Gospel of Luke, John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth were relatives.
Original drawing by Martin Schongauer, 15th century