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John the Baptist, Isaiah 40, and the Ingathering 
of the Exiles

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image of Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus

Many who argue that Jesus was a herald of Israel’s eschatological restoration have also suggested that he expected the ingathering of the exiles. Studies of John the Baptist have typically focused on his warnings of the coming judgment and his predictions of ‘the coming one’, thus leaving aside the possibility that John’s baptism and message also signaled the ingathering of the exiles. Further, scholars have largely ignored the import of Isa. 40 in the ministry of John, which was frequently read in the Second Temple period as a prophecy of the return of the exiles at the end of time. It is the contention of this article that Isa. 40 provides an interpretive framework for John’s activities, indicating that his baptism was not just a symbol of the coming judgment but also of Israel’s restoration.

Affiliations: 1: University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA,


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