In the 2nd Christian century, Melton who was the Archbishop of Serdees, said, “I traveled to the Orient. I saw the places mentioned in the Bible, and everything became full of spiritual meaning.”
In the 3rd century, these holy places became of interest from a scholarly perspective. The most important teacher of the time, Origen, came to Palestine for the purpose of studying and tracing the steps of Christ and the Prophets. In his writings, he mentioned Bethany across the Jordan, and he believed that it was the same as Bayt ‘Abara (The Place of Crossing) where John was baptizing.
Eusebius (3rd-4th Century)
At the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th, the famous Church historian Eusebius mentioned certain Gospel sites in his geographic dictionary, Onomasticon. He mentioned that many of the brothers in Christ, who were desirous of rebirth, were baptized in the Jordan River or submerged in the flow of the living river in imitation of Christ who was baptized in this same place.
An Anonymous Pilgrim (4th Century) and Theodosius (6th Century)
An anonymous pilgrim, who arrived from Bordeaux in 333 AD, and another pilgrim named Theodosius in 530 AD (as well as others) described the baptism site of Jesus, indicating that the place where Christ was baptized was five miles from the Dead Sea. They also mentioned the small hill that lies to the East of the river as being near the site of the baptism, as well as being the place from which Elijah ascended to Heaven. Theodosius also described the church of John the Baptist, which was built on vaults & arcs during the reign of the Emperor Anestasius (AD 491-518) to prevent any damage that might be caused by the flooding of the river. Recent archeological excavations have uncovered remains of the piers over which the church was built on the eastern bank of the river. Theodosius mentions a marble column implanted in the middle of the river bearing the sign of the Cross (as an indication of where Christ’s baptism took place).
Antoninus of Piacenza wrote in 570 AD that the site of Jesus’ baptism was opposite the monastery of Saint John adding that marble steps led to the bank of the river where Jesus was baptized.