“Without laying stress on the details of the story of John’s infancy as given in the third gospel, reminiscent as they may be of the Old Testament birth-stories of the old-time national heroes Isaac, Samson and Samuel, not to mention the coincidence that the two heroines of the gospel birth-narratives bear the names of Miriam and Elisheba, the sister and wife respectively of Aaron, the first priest, we may very reasonably believe, as it is stated, that John was of priestly descent; and therefore in every probability he was well versed, if not highly trained, in the scriptures. Vowed from his birth to God by his parents, his strange dress and peculiar ascetic mode of life are quite in keeping with prophetical traditions, and thus of the schools of the prophets. But in keeping with the spiritual significance of his whole teaching, which will be more fully brought out in the sequel, such an outer sign in high probability had an inner meaning for this great proclaimer of repentance, of the turning back of Israel in contrition unto God. Now there were certain Palestinian pre-Christian allegorists or exponents of the scriptures on quasi-mystical lines called Dorshē Reshumōth. According to a Rabbinic legend, going back along this line of interpretation, the ancient myth of Gen. 3:21 was conceived more spiritually. After the fall, the first falling away from God, Yahveh-Elohīm clothed Adam and Eve in coats of skin, not because of their nakedness, but in exchange for their lost paradisaical garments of light.” ~”Gnostic John the Baptizer: Selections from the Mandæan John-Book” by G. R. S. Mead
John The Baptist
It is strange that John the Baptist is treated by many Christians as a superficial character in the story. Most know him as nothing more than the one who baptized Jesus. But John wasn’t just a typical wandering priest unaffiliated with any church or religious organization. Others may remember that he was a strong supporter and defender of Jesus and his teachings and was eventually put to death for it. Still, when they talk of the great figures of the Bible, John the Baptist is probably not in the top five.
Mead says that John was of priestly descent and probably well versed in scripture. John was, in fact, a Rabbi of the Essene sect, just as was Jesus and his family. While there were many wandering priests and preachers in those days, few achieved the following of John and Jesus. Some people are able to recognize truth and holiness when they see it and hear it. Those people listened to these holy men.
The Strange Habits of John the Baptist
One of the best known of the strange habits of John was his food. It is said he lived on honey and locusts. A strange diet for sure. But is that really what he ate, and the only things he ate? Probably not. While it is true that the highly trained and experienced members of Essene communities ate little, when they did eat, it was simple food like bread, herbs, and wine or water. There is no mention that I am aware of Essenes eating locusts or any other insects. So why does the Bible say that John did? There are two possibilities. One is that this claim was made my an enemy to put him down as a crazy person to be ignored. Another is that it was symbolic, not literal.
The locust or grasshopper generally symbolizes a leap forward. When dealing with spiritual people, it likely means a leap forward in faith and beliefs. So John “eating” locusts meant that he had had a leap forward, a spiritual awakening. This made him a worthy preacher and teacher, a proper forerunner and defender of Jesus and the true teachings that have largely been lost or abandoned by the popular churches of today.
Honey is a symbol of heavenly bliss, therefore also represents a spiritual awakening. More specifically, honey does not rot. It lasts virtually forever. And coating outer things in honey can preserve them for a long time. It therefore also represents immortality.
So when it is said that John the Baptist “ate” honey and locusts, it means that he has taken that leap forward, has awakened his spirit and soul, and has become a true immortal. Immortality is never a thing of the material body, but one of the spirit and soul. But we don’t truly become immortal as individuals until we awaken the soul, which is to say, making it conscious by filling it with Divine Light from the spiritual sun.
The Even Stranger Clothing of John the Baptist
It is said in the Bible that John the Baptist was clothed in skin just as Adam and Eve were after they fell from the Garden of Eden. Mead gets it partially correct when he says that this was not to hide their nakedness, but because they had lost their divine garments of light. He takes it too literally, though, in believing that this means that Adam and Eve wrapped themselves in the hides of dead animals. Even more, he gets it wrong when he accepts that John the Baptist did the same in memory of that event.
Again, we are dealing with allegory, symbolism. Adam and Eve were not wearing the skins of animals. They were wearing their own skins, skins and bodies of dense matter. This they didn’t have before the fall. In the garden of Eden, they had bodies of spirit and light, not matter. After the fall, their true self was hidden in a garment (cage?) of flesh so they could function in a world of matter. T was the recognition of this fact that had Adam and Eve trying to cover and hide themselves. They wanted to hide their bodies of matter, not specific organs.
So when it says that John also clothed himself in skin in memory of Adam and Eve, it means that he was a spiritual being, perhaps an angel, who “fell” down to the dimension of matter where he had to take on a body of matter in order to function. What he wore on that body is not relevant. It is the body itself that is being discussed when it says he wore skins.