Ancient Elaborations on the Life of John the Baptist (and his parents)

I am trying this semester to set Fridays aside to focus primarily on working on the Mandaean Book of John, and hope to blog more frequently on this topic in the weeks to come than I have managed to recently.

As I work on translating chapter 18, which tells a story about portents preceding the birth of John the Baptist and the reaction of Zechariah, I am struck that there does not seem to be any comparable ancient retelling of this material, that either devotes as much attention to the prelude to John’s birth, or elaborates on the story in a similar way.

If anyone has bibliographical recommendations for ancient sources that I ought to be triangulating with this part of the Book of John, I would welcome them. A couple of ancient retellings of the life of John the Baptist can be found online, in particular at Tony Burke’s web site (where he has, among others, Serapion’s Life of John the Baptist) which can also be found at the Internet Archive:

The Life and Martyrdom of John the Baptist by Mark the Evanglist is also mentioned there, and can be found in Patrologia Orientalis via Google Books:
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  • Gary

    The Woodbrooke Studies is great reading. John the Baptist went into the wilderness west of the dead sea at age 2-3 with his mother (Essenes conection?). Father killed at the temple and his blood boils for 50 years, till the temple and priests are killed by Titus "for the blood of Zacharias". (That would put the birth of Jesus at 17-18 AD). Elizabeth dies when John is 7, and Jesus and Mary visit them in the wilderness (in a cloud via teleportation) for her burial. Till age 30, John's voice is heard by Herod, condemning him. Then the ultimate, John's head flies around for 3 years after being cut off, condemning Herod. I don't quite know what to make of it, but it is really a good story, movie material. I liked the comment, something like "may God NOT bless his (Herod's) soul". Also what the dancer wanted to do to John's head is ultimate hate. The author has a sense of humor.