John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-25). Jesus was Mary's son, conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-38). Mary was Elizabeth's cousin (Luke 1:36). So the relation between Jesus and John the Baptist was that of second cousins.
Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins. Elizabeth, the mother of John, was the cousin of Mary.
Only the author of Luke's Gospel seems to have been aware of a family relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist, if such a relationship existed. Luke 1:36 says that John's Mother, Elisabeth, was the cousin of Mary, mother of Jesus.
Uta Ranke-Heinemann (Putting Away Childish Things) says, "That Elisabeth was legendary is proved by the historically more credible report in John that Jesus and John the Baptist did not know each other." John Shelby Spong (Born of a Woman) says he is suspicious because Elisabeth in Hebrew would be Elisheba', a name that appears only once in the Old Testament, as the wife of Aaron, brother of Moses. Luke 1:5 describes Elisabeth as the daughter of Aaron, so the author must have had Aaron and Moses in mind when he wrote his gospel.
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