BAR 31:03, May/Jun 2005
The Cave of John the Baptist: The Stunning Archaeological Discovery That Has Redefined Christian History
(New York: Doubleday, 2004) 382 pp., $26
This book is an engaging, first-person account of the excavation of an ancient cave near Beth Ha-Karim, west of Jerusalem, that Shimon Gibson, the author/excavator, associates with John the Baptist. The cave appears to have been first occupied in the Iron Age from the eighth to the sixth century B.C.E., but its most unusual period of use was from the first to third century C.E., when it seems to have had a cultic role (a role that continued as late as the eighth century C.E.). The book also reviews scholarly research on John the Baptist and Jesus and their relationship. It concludes with a series of speculations about John the Baptist. In no way does it live up to its subtitle.