JOHN BAPTIST'S PREACHING IN THE WILDERNESS
(DE PREDICATIONE IOANNIS)
a synoptic, alphabetical character list
A "ghost character." The Sadducee tries to argue that they are the offspring of Abraham and therefore blessed. John Baptist rejects this, arguing in turn that it is the love of God that matters, not bloodlines.
BALE THE PROLOGUE
Bale serves as a Chorus. He announces that there have been many prophets, but none could lead Man to God until Jesus arrived on earth. He then states that the play will show Jesus meekly seeking baptism and that all should follow in his footsteps. After the baptism, Bale reappears to remind the audience that the people listened to John's message, not the Pharisee. He points out that John did not counsel fasting or living in the desert, but baptism and repentance.
The Common People, represented by a single speaker, listen to the preaching of John Baptist. He tells Common People to repent and turn to God. Common People states that he knows the best way to heal is to expose the sore, and therefore he confesses his sins. Having done so, John baptizes him, and, when asked for godly precepts, tells him to give charity rather than animal sacrifices and to succor the poor both with food and the word of God. Common People then leaves, having been given what he came for.
A "ghost character." Twice mentioned by John Baptist as a prophet who foretold him and his role, and defined him as the voice of the crier.
After John baptizes Jesus, The Heavenly Father descends to declare that Jesus is his son and that his law, not Moses' is now all that matters.
A "ghost character." John Baptist argues that the Sadducee are like Ishmael, only Abraham's son in the flesh, and not specifically blessed because of it.
Jesus first gives the audience the story of his birth and mission, and then tells them that he is here to be baptized and that they should follow his example. He asks John to baptize him, and when John protests that he is unworthy, Jesus insists, stating that he must not break any of God's laws, and being baptized is one of those laws. John is persuaded, and baptizes Jesus. When The Heavenly Father appears and blesses Jesus, John rejoices at the coming of the Son, who will purify all of us.
John Baptist begins by preaching to representatives of the population. His preaching wins over most of the audience and, in turn, he is approached by the Common People, the Publican and the Soldier, who repent their sins and ask to be baptized, which John does. Each person then asks for guidance or precepts, and John gives each rules to obey. He is then approached by the Pharisee and the Sadducee, who question him on his teachings and his authority to preach. He condemns them in turn, the Pharisee for twisting the laws of Moses and the Sadducee for having no forgiveness and placing their emphasis on outward signs of holiness. When they argue that they are blessed because they are descended from Abraham, John rejects the idea of a special tribe, and claims that following God is all that matters, not the actual tribe. The Pharisee and Sadducee leave, and Jesus arrives to ask to be baptized. John refuses at first, saying he is unworthy, but is finally persuaded by Jesus' argument that he must be baptized to fulfill God's law. When the Heavenly Father appears and blesses Jesus, John rejoices at the coming of the Son, who will purify all of us.
A "ghost character." The Pharisee argues that his kind are the interpreters of Moses' law, and John Baptist responds that they corrupt the teachings. When the Sadducee tries to argue that they keep every point in Moses' five books, John counters that they have only outward show, no spirit or sense of forgiveness. These arguments are certainly backed up by the Heavenly Father, who announces that from now on, Moses' law is superceded by the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The Pharisee, with the Sadducee, questions John Baptist because they fear he does not recognize their authority. The Pharisee is confident of undermining John easily, and points out to him that the Pharisees interpret the Scriptures. When John condemns the way they interpret Scripture, the Pharisee becomes angry and calls John a beggar, stating that he has no right to interpret the laws or the prophecies. He swears that he will see to it that John can no longer preach.
When the Publican hears John preach to the Common People about charity, he is shamed because he has been an oppressor of the poor. Having been cleansed by his remorse, John baptizes him. The Publican then asks for precepts to obey. John tells him to abstain from violence and to be merciful in the exercise of his office. The Publican swears to be so, and leaves.
The Sadducee, with the Pharisee, questions John Baptist because they fear he does not recognize their authority. He suggests that they will need to be crafty in their approach in order to defeat John, although the Pharisee does not agree. The Sadducee first attempts to seem friendly, but when John rejects his overtures, he asks how John can fault the Sadducees, who follow every one of God's precepts. When John says that they are all outward show, with no understanding of forgiveness, the Sadducee says John does not understand their laws, and asks on whose authority John preaches new ones. John's claim that both the Pharisees and the Sadducees are full of sin is met by the Sadducee's claim that he is descended directly from Abraham, and is thus holy. When John rejects the split between the tribe of Abraham and the Gentiles, the Sadducee has had enough, and leaves.
The Solider, after hearing John preach to the Publican about non-violence, confesses to murder, rape and theft, and begs God to forgive him. John baptizes him, and the Soldier asks for rules of behavior. John tells him to obey the rule of war, and also to neither rape nor plunder. In addition, although John allows him to wear a weapon to keep the peace, he tells the Soldier he must never misuse it. The Soldier thanks him and leaves.