Photo by SCALA/Art Resource, N.Y.

ON THE COVER: John the Baptist’s disciples gather on the banks of the Jordan as their teacher baptizes Jesus in the murky green river, in a fresco by Giotto (c. 1276–1337) for the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. As Jesus came out of the water, Matthew 3:16 narrates, “the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” Although Jesus acknowledges the importance of John to his religious development, calling him “a burning and shining lamp” (John 5:35), the gospel writers Matthew and Luke, perhaps to restrain those contemporaries who insisted that John was superior to Jesus, downplay the Baptist’s role. Luke even places John in prison at the time of the baptism. Only by sifting through the gospel writers’ additions to the original story is it possible to evaluate Jesus’ dependence on John, writes Jerome Murphy-O’Connor. He suggests that Jesus’ desire to continue John’s ministry may even explain “Why Jesus Went Back to Galilee.”