Author Topic: The Gospel of Barnabas  (Read 3146 times)

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Offline Ben

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The Gospel of Barnabas
« on: July 21, 2004, 09:35:06 AM »
Almost every Islamic web site uses the Gospel of Barnabas to refute the claim that Jesus is God, and to support the idea that Jesus was a prophet of God - who wasn't curcified or raised from the dead - just like Abraham, Moses, or Mohammed.

I have always wondered about this "gospel". How old is it? Who wrote it? If it wasn't Barnabas, then who wrote it? Was the idea that Jesus was just a Prophet comon in the Early Church? If so, why? If not, why is the Gospel of Barnabas so clear on that was all Jesus really was?

All of those kind of questions poped into my mind, and have really been there ever since I heard about this "gospel".

Recently I checked out and read what was said about how exactly this text survived, its orgins, etc.

Below is a quote from :

The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria till 325 C.E. Iranaeus (130-200) wrote in support of pure monotheism and opposed Paul for injecting into Christianity doctrines of the pagan Roman religion and Platonic philosophy.  He had quoted extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas in support of his views. This shows that the Gospel of Barnabas was in circulation in the first and second centuries of Christianity.  

In 325 C.E., the Nicene Council was held, where it was ordered that all original Gospels in Hebrew script should be destroyed. An Edict was issued that any one in possession of these Gospels will be put to death.

In 383 C.E., the Pope secured a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas and kept it in his private library.

In the fourth year of Emperor Zeno (478 C.E. ), the remains of Barnabas were discovered and there was found on his breast a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas written by his own hand. (Acia Sanctorum Boland Junii Tom II, Pages 422 and 450. Antwerp 1698) . The famous Vulgate Bible appears to be based on this Gospel.

Pope Sixtus (1585-90) had a friend, Fra Marino. He found the Gospel of Barnabas in the private library of the Pope. Fra  Marino was interested because he had read the writings of Iranaeus where Barnabas had been profusely quoted. The Italian manuscript passed through different hands till it reached "a person of great name and authority" in Amsterdam, "who during his life time was often heard to put a high value to this piece". After his death it came in the possession of J. E. Cramer, a Councillor of the King of Prussia. In 1713 Cramer presented this manuscript to the famous connoisseur of books, Prince Eugene of Savoy. In 1738 along with the library of the Prince it found its way into Hofbibliothek in Vienna. There it now rests.

Toland, in his "Miscellaneous Works" (published posthumously in 1747), in Vol. I, page 380, mentions that the Gospel of Barnabas was still extant. In Chapter XV he refers to the Glasian Decree of 496 C.E. where "Evangelium Barnabe" is included in the list of forbidden books. Prior to that it had been forbidden by Pope Innocent in 465 C.E. and by the Decree of the Western Churches in 382 C.E.

Barnabas is also mentioned in the Stichometry of Nicephorus Serial No. 3, Epistle of Barnabas . . . Lines 1, 300.
Then again in the list of Sixty Books
Serial No. 17. Travels and teaching of the Apostles.
Serial No. 18. Epistle of Barnabas.
Serial No. 24. Gospel According to Barnabas.
A Greek version of the Gospel of Barnabas is also found in a solitary fragment. The rest is burnt.

The Latin text was translated into English by Mr. and Mrs. Ragg and was printed at the Clarendon Press in Oxford. It was published by the Oxford University Press in 1907. This English translation mysteriously disappeared from the market. Two copies of this translation are known to exist, one in the British Museum and the other in the Library of the Congress, Washington, DC. The first edition was from a micro-film copy of the book in the Library of the Congress, Washington, DC.


Now I am just more interested, and wondering if anyone knew anything about the "Gospel of Barnabas", its orgins, who wrote it, and so on.

If anyone has any information please post it, along with any argument that this "gospel" was not written by Barnabas, and that the idea that Jesus was just a prophet was not a comon early Christian Church.

« Last Edit: July 21, 2004, 09:51:38 AM by Ben »
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Offline 4Truth

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Re:The Gospel of Barnabas
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2004, 08:36:56 PM »
The work seems to be a nonsensical medieval forgery.

Hope that is a useful link.


Offline JohnCassian

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Re:The Gospel of Barnabas
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2004, 08:41:44 PM »

As it said on the aforementioned page, the people who claim an earlier history for the Gospel of Barnabas are confusing it with the Epistle of Barnabas.  The Epistle of Barnabas is found in most collections of the Apostolic Fathers, and is not heretical.  It was considered by many to be canonical before the Ecumenical Councils settled the 27 book New Testament Canon.

The Gospel, as that page details, is a much later forgery, and not the same document at all.

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Offline Ebor

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Re:The Gospel of Barnabas
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2004, 12:10:15 AM »
I had read about this "gospel" in "Strange Tales About Jesus" by Per Beshow some years ago (and my copy of STAJ is somewhere in the basement) so the list from set off some bells.

A cursory bit of on-line research reveals a couple of points that the muslim site conveniently failed to mention.

1.) The "translation from latin by "Mr and Mrs. Ragg"  CCEL has an entry for Mr Lonsdale Ragg, a priest in the Church of England, and notes amoung his various writings: "The Mohammedan Gospel of Barnabas (1907; jointly with Laura M. Ragg)"  So the Rev. Canon Ragg was quite clear that it was not a *Christian* gospel. Modern re-prints, starting in 1973,  that I have found listed leave off the word "Mohammedan" and are from publishers whose names indicate a, shall we say, interest in it being used to support Islam such as "Begum Aisha Bawany Wakf" in Karachi.

For those who would care to read it, I have found a secular site from Australia with the text:

and btw, the manuscript is in Italian not latin.  It may not seem like much, but little errors can add up to big ones.

As to a book printed in 1907 mysteriously disappearing:  I've been "book-ing" for over 30 years and I've learnt a few things.  Books on obscure topics tend to not get big printing runs and this one was meant as a scholarly work so it wasn't up there in the best seller list.  It wouldn't leave as many copies as say Tennyson or Dickens.  And it didn't show as being reprinted until the above mentioned with additional material from a "M. A. Rahim" So I doubt severely that it "disappeared mysterously" which would suggest some kind of plot to remove it from the haunts of ordinary people.  There could be odd copies here and there in an attic or old house that haven't come to light.  Others may have just been chucked out as "another old dirty book that's falling apart".  

Note, btw the "Toland" mentioned did exist.  He was called a "Freethinker" by Bishop Berkley and held to a form of pantheism and/or deism and wrote a number of works of a religious nature according to the wikipedia

In 383 C.E., the Pope secured a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas and kept it in his private library.

I would guess tha this is supposed to suggest that the Pope was hiding it or keeping it safe or something like that.  Well, I've got a copy of "The Book of Mormon" and other assorted non-standard religious works for reference purposes, not because I hold to their tenets.

Just a few oddments

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