Photo courtesy of Hessische Landes-und-Hochschul Bibliothek, Darmstadt, Germany

ON THE COVER: Wearing his traditional camel-hair cloak, John the Baptist, left, baptizes Jesus in the Jordan River as the dove representing the Holy Spirit descends from a star-studded firmament. An incongruous figure, however, lurks among these familiar iconographic elements in this illumination from an 11th-century manuscript, Gospels of Hitta. At lower right, a pagan river god reclines among the exotic fish of the river. This scene and others like it raise the question, “What Are Pagan River Gods Doing in Scenes of Jesus’ Baptism?”