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The Gospel of Barnabas? A Scholarly Investigation

 

 

THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS:

A Scholarly Investigation

Written by

Kerem Özyazıcıgil (1985)

English translation by Doug Clark (2014)

 

Translator’s Note

The Gospel of Barnabas is a spurious work dating from

approximately AD 1585. For workers in the Muslim

world, and especially those in the country of Turkey,

understanding this fraudulent work is vital: To a man,

woman or child, Turks believe it to be the only authentic

gospel still in existence today.

The original of this book was written by an English

translator and biblical scholar directly into Turkish. This

English language edition is my back-translation from his

Turkish edition, and is an attempt to make the invaluable

material in this book available to readers whose Turkish

may be limited. Any errors are entirely mine. Since the author’s work in Turkey continues, I leave it up to him to decide when to make his real name public.

Due to the frequency with which they occur, the titles

Injil, Qur’an, and Gospel of Barnabas (and its shortened

form Barnabas [no quotes]) will only be capitalized. Other

literary works and important terminology will be italicized

as appropriate.

Barnabas — (no quotes) referring to the unknown,

fictitious author of the so-called Gospel of Barnabas —

will usually be apparent from the context.

Finally, the footnotes in the Turkish original are here rendered as inline notes, in order to display them properly in the .EPUB format used by most digital devices (smaller screen cell phones and tablets in particular). An example:

Text … [1]. Text …

[1] Inline note at end of paragraph.

Text continues …

dfc

INTRODUCTION

For the Muslim, an investigation of the data provided by

the Qur’an on the subject of the Injil can be most

profitable. For this reason, and before entering into my

real subject, I have thought it proper to list below the most

important Qur’anic verses about the Injil:

Sura 3:3 — nezzele ‘aleyk el-Kitab bilhakkı

musaddıkan lima beyne yedeyh ve enzel et-Tevrate

vel-İncile.

He hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad)

the Scripture with truth, confirming that

which was (revealed) before it, even as He

revealed the Torah and the Gospel [1].

[1] Trans: The Arabic is as rendered in the Turkish edition of the Qur’an. See Bibliography for details.

Sura 5:46-47 — Ve kaffeyna ala âsârihim bi-‘İsa

ibni-Meryeme musaddıkan lima beyne yedeyh min

et-Tevrati ve ateynahül-İncile fihi hüda ve nur ve

musaddıkan lima beyne yedeyh min et-Tevrati ve

hüda ve mev’iza li-mütakkıyn. Vel-yahküm ehl ül-İncil

bima enzel Allah fihi.

And we caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow

in their footsteps, confirming that which

 

 

 

was (revealed) before him, and We

bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is

guidance and a light, confirming that which

was (revealed) before it in the Torah — a

guidance and an admonition unto those

who ward off (evil). Let the People of the

Gospel judge by that which Allah hath

revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that

which Allah hath revealed; such are evil-livers.

Sura 5:68 — Kul ya ehl el-Kitabi lestüm ‘ala

şey’en hattâ tuktimut-Tevrate vel-İncile ve ma

ünzile ileykummin Rabbiküm.

 

Say: O People of the Scripture! Ye have

naught (of guidance) till ye observe the

Torah and the Gospel and that which was

revealed unto you from your Lord.

Sura 57:27 — Ve kaffeyna bi-‘İsa ibni-Meryeme

ve ateynahül-İncile ve ce’alna fi kulûbi elleziynettebe’uhû

re’fetan ve rahmeten.

Then We caused Our messengers to follow

in their footsteps; and We caused Jesus, son

of Mary, to follow, and gave him the

Gospel, and placed compassion and mercy

in the hearts of those wo followed him.”

Sura 10:94 — Fe’in künte fi şekkin mimma

enzelna ileyke fes’el illeziyne yakre’un el-Kitabe

min kablike.

And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt

concerning that which We reveal unto thee,

then question those who read the Scripture

(that was) before thee.

A careful reader will immediately recognize that these

verses from the Qur’an are in flagrant contradiction to the

thinking of many Muslims about the Tevrat and the Injil.

In the Qur’an there is not one verse about the Injil

having been changed or corrupted. According to the Qur’an, the Injil,

rather than setting aside the Tevrat actually certifies its

authenticity. In the same way, the purpose of the Qur’an is

not to set aside the Injil, but to certify its validity.

According to the Qur’an, the man who does not put the

Tevrat and Injil into practice cannot be considered a true

believer.

One more point in the Qur’an (e.g. Sura 7:157) is worthy

of our attention: the Tevrat and Injil in the possession of

the People of the Book (the Ehl-i Kitab, i.e. Jews and Christians) around the 7th

century are considered true and in force. When the

Prophet of Islam wanted to prove his own statements

true, he made his appeal to the Tevrat and Injil which

were in existence at that time. Had the Tevrat and Injil

been corrupted, would he not have warned everyone to

reject them?

Perhaps someone will say, “The Prophet Muhammed was

referring to the Gospel of Barnabas or some other gospel,

and not to the Injil used by Christians today.” Let’s not

forget, though, that the true Injil was in existence at the

birth of Islam, and had never been “lost“. In fact, it was

widely circulated. Because the Prophet of Islam, in order

to prove the truthfulness of the Qur’an, tells Christians to

consult the Injil which they have in their own hands

(Sura 7:157). It is common knowledge that in

Muhammad’s time a number of forged writings were in

circulation which bore the title “injil“. (Most of these

works are still in existence.) But neither the Prophet of

Islam, nor the Christians he addressed, had the slightest

hesitation over which was the true Injil.

We ought not to be surprised that false injils existed

alongside the true Injil. It’s axiomatic in our world that

only that which is valuable is counterfeited. No one

counterfeits garbage! But there can be deception in the

gold we buy from the jeweler, honey we get from the

corner store, or meat from the butcher. Forgers can even

deceive us into believing that counterfeit money is the real

thing. But when we realize we’ve been “taken”, do we say,

“I’ll never buy gold again! I’ll never eat meat or honey

again! I’ll never again use money!” Of course not! What

we say is, “OK, I made the mistake of accepting fraudulent

merchandise. I’m sorry. But this won’t stop me from

buying things. I’ll just not make the same mistake again.

I’m going to learn how to tell the real from the fake!”

For the sincere follower of God, there are few things so

priceless as the Scriptures that God causes to be written for Man’s

benefit. So it would be astonishing if God had not given us

a method by which we can distinguish inspired scripture

from human fakery. Literary criticism, particularly in the

West, is a well-developed science. We see a good example

of this in the year 1983:

Great interest was awakened that year when news broke

in the German press that the personal war diaries of

Adolf Hitler had been found. Shortly afterward, however,

experts revealed that these so-called “diaries” were actually

fakes. They proved beyond doubt that the paper and ink

used were manufactured after the time of Hitler, and that

the facts given in the “diaries” were at variance with one

another. Today, no one pays any attention to these

fraudulent works. In other words, by employing

contemporary critical methodology, we can with great

accuracy determine the authenticity of a literary work. And

since the Gospel of Barnabas is a book like any other, it

too can be — and has been — held subject to those same

methods.

The purpose of the booklet you are now reading is to put

the Gospel of Barnabas “under a microscope” [2]. Our

examination will tend to focus on two questions: Who

wrote the Gospel of Barnabas, and when was it written?

[2] For those wishing to study the Injil accepted by Christians, we

recommend the booklet How the New Testament was Written, by

the famous English professor F.F. Bruce.

 

CHAPTER 1

 

INTERNAL EVIDENCES

FOR THE DATE OF AUTHORSHIP

OF THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS

The question of when and by whom a book was written

can be unravelled by examining both the external and the

internal evidence.

Internal evidences are proofs taken from the contents of

a literary work. Whether intended or not, the contents of a

literary work exude the atmosphere of a particular age.

The date of authorship of a literary work can often be

determined by its divergent subject matter and literary

style.

External evidence, however, means the evidence taken

from other works written either at the same time or at a later

date which quote from or mention the work in question.

The external evidences for the Qur’an, for example, would

be the vast number of quotes in Arabic literature from the

time the Qur’an was written and onward.

Like any other book, it is important to analyze the

Gospel of Barnabas too according to internal and external

evidence. Simply accepting this work because it bears the

title “Gospel of Barnabas,” or particularly because it

 

conveniently accords with one’s own religious beliefs,

simply doesn’t meet the requirements of an objective and

scientific approach.

First of all, then, let’s look at the internal evidence for

the Gospel of Barnabas. Let’s see how the internal

evidences for this work shed light on its source and its

date of composition.

A. ERRORS OF GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY

IN THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS.

The author of the Gospel of Barnabas commits one error

after the other when dealing with the geography and

history of Palestine. The real Barnabas was an educated

Jew, intimately acquainted with the geography of the land

in which he lived, and with the 1st century world of which

he was a part. The writer of the Gospel of Barnabas also

claims to be familiar with these things. Let the reader

judge for himself whether or not this claim is valid.

1) The “ports” of Nazareth and Jerusalem(!), Nineveh

and Tyre

The first incredible error Barnabas commits is to suppose

that the cities of Nazareth and Jerusalem were located on

the shores of a lake or at the seaside. It is common

knowledge that Nazareth is 600 meters above the

nearest lake (Galilee or Tiberias), and 25 kilometers

distant (a half-day’s journey). Jerusalem, on the other

hand, is at 811 metersaltıtude, and 23 kilometers from

the nearest body of water, the Dead Sea,

In the Gospel of Barnabas, however, we read these mind-boggling

words:

Andosi iessu al mare di gallilea. He monte

in naue nauigo in nazaret sua cita.

Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee, and having

embarked in a ship, sailed to his city of

Nazareth. (Barnabas, chapter 20)

After describing how Jesus stilled the tempest on the

lake, Barnabas continues:

Arriuati alla cita di nazaret li mariari

empirno la citta di quanto hausua iessu

operato.

Having arrived at the city of Nazareth, the

seamen spread throughout the city all that

Jesus had wrought.

From these two verses, it is obvious that Barnabas

believes Jesus travelled to Nazareth without the aid of any

transportation other than a boat!

In the following chapter (21), Barnabas says that after

Jesus left Nazareth:

Axcexe iessu in chafarnau.

Jesus went UP to Capernaum.

Jesus, however, would have had to do exactly the

opposite! The boat he entered in chapter 20 would have

come ashore, not at Nazareth, but at Capernaum which

was located on the shores of a lake. When he left

Capernaum, he would have had to go uphill to Nazareth,

and after leaving Nazareth would again have had to go

downhill to Capernaum.

Barnabas repeats the same error in a later chapter. On a

certain Sabbath, he says, Jesus went to Nazareth (chapter

143). After describing Jesus’ preaching there (chapters

144-151), he says:

Asscese adonque iessu in naue.

Jesus then embarked on a ship.

So we have another proof that, in the mind of

“Barnabas,” Nazareth was located on the shore of a lake.

There’s more! In chapter 151, the boat on which Jesus

embarks leaves the “port” of Nazareth, and drops anchor

where? In Jerusalem!! The chapter immediately following

(chapter 152) says:

Peruenuo iessu in ierussalem…

Jesus, having come to Jesusalem…

According to Barnabas, one can sail from Nazareth to

Jerusalem! Now if I were to say to you, “I boarded a ship

in Ankara (the capital of Turkey) and went to Adana”,

what further proof would you need of my mental

condition?

According to the Gospel of Barnabas (chapter 63), the

large fish that swallowed the prophet Jonah

he getarlo ha presso niniue

threw him up on the shore in the vicinity of Nineveh

In reality, Nineveh, the ancient capital of the Assyrian

Empire, is near the Iraqi city of Mosul, thousands of

kilometers from the sea.

Just the opposite of this example, according to Barnabas

chapter 99 the city of Tyre is near the Jordan River. Tyre,

however, is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, in

other words hundreds of kilometers from the Jordan.

Had the author of the Gospel of Barnabas really been a

Jew living in the 1st century (as was the real Apostle

Barnabas), he would never have committed such

ridiculous errors.

2) The three-year-old vizier(!)

Let’s now look at a few of the historical errors Barnabas

tumbles into. Barnabas chapter 80 tells us that the

prophet Daniel was two years old when taken captive by

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. In actual fact,

Daniel was a young man at that time. Barnabas has

misunderstood Daniel 1:1-7. According to these verses,

Daniel, along with many other high-born Israeli youths,

was required to submit to the special training and diet of

King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace.

If the reader gives these verses only a cursory look and

doesn’t pay close attention to the word “youths” in verse 4,

one might assume that Daniel was a baby needing feeding

and potty training. From Daniel 2, however, it is obvious

that King Nebuchadnezzar saw his famous dream during

the second year of his own reign, and not during the

second year of Daniel’s life. Daniel 2:48 says that because

Daniel correctly interpreted the king’s dream, he was

made “ruler over all the province of Babylon.” If we

accept Barnabas’ explanation, Daniel was was only three,

or at the most four, years of age when he was elevated to

this position of great authority.

3) Imaginary armies and battles

Barnabas (chapter 91) maintains that, as a reaction to

Jesus’ ministry, the whole land of Judea rose up in revolt:

Some said that Jesus was God come to the

world; others said: ‘Nay, but he is a son of

God’; and others said: ‘Nay, for God hath no

human similitude, and begetteth not sons;

but Jesus of Nazareth is a prophet of God’.

These arguments, says Barnabas, climaxed in a great

battle. Because, at a place called Mizpah:

…assembled three armies, each one of two

hundred thousand men that bare sword.

Herod spoke to them, but they were not

quieted. Then spoke the governor and high

priest, saying: ‘Brethren (!?), this war is

aroused by the works of Satan, for Jesus is

alive, and to him ought we to resort, and

 

ask him that he give testimony of himself,

and then believe in him according to his

word.’

So at this they were quieted every one; and

having laid down their arms, they all

embraced one another, saying one to the

other: ‘Forgive me, brother! [3]

[3] Jews and Romans would never have addressed each other as “brother!”

Neither ancient nor modern historical works record any

such event. The 20-volume history of the Jewish nation,

prepared by the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus,

records no such event! Famous first-century Roman

historians such as Tacitus say nothing about this event, either.

“Barnabas’” assertion that three armies totalling 600,000

men could assemble and disperse with such rapidity is

beyond belief. Is it conceivable too that the assembling of

600,000 warriors for battle would be an event of so little

importance that it wouldn’t attract the attention of firstrate

historians such as Josephus and Tacitus? In his

highly-detailed history, Josephus describes many far less

noteworthy events.

History records that Herod was Jesus’ mortal enemy. Is

it even remotely conceivable that Herod would have lifted

a finger to calm an uprising that would have implicated

Jesus as an insurrectionist? More likely, Herod would have

done all in his power to encourage such an uprising as an

excuse to condemn Jesus to death.

Furthermore, historical records are clear that, in Jesus’

day, the total number of soldiers in the Roman army of

occupation in Israel and the surrounding countries never

reached anything like 600,000 men. The Roman Empire’s

military strength in Jesus’ day totaled 25 legions (150,000

soldiers). Of these, only 2-4 legions (12,000-24,000

soldiers) served in Palestine.

The Roman governor of Judea — Pilate — could never,

as Barnabas supposes, have dismissed a 600,000-man

force with a mere word. Had any such event taken place,

some respected historian would have recorded the pre-battle

preparations in detail. But the Gospel of Barnabas

says not a word about such preparations. The story of the

three armies at Mizpah resembles a fairy tale.

4) Jesus’ great admirer…the Jewish high priest(!)

Even more amazing than the tale of the Three Armies is

the following one: The Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 93,

says that the Jewish high priest, together with King Herod

and the governor. Pontius Pilate, desired to bow himself

down and worship Jesus…!

The reader will remember that the high priest,and the

19

other Jewish religious leaders, were Jesus’ sworn

enemies. They sought to arrest and sentence him to death

because he had exposed their hypocrisy. They would

never have worshipped him.

Most important of all, for

Palestine’s two greatest political men of that age, Herod

and Pilate, Jesus was just an unimportant preacher. Only

Jesus’ followers understood his worth and true identity.

All this clearly proves just how far Barnabas was from

Palestine of the 1st century.

5) The Governorship of Pontius Pilate

According to the Gospel of Barnabas (chapters 3 and

217), Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor of the

province of Judea (Palestine) both at the birth and at the

death of Jesus. The Injil (Luke 3:1), however, and the

Jewish historian Josephus who lived in the first century AD, both

record that Pilate was appointed governor in AD 26 by the

Roman emperor Tiberius.

In 1961, archaeologists working

in Palestine discovered a stone tablet that recorded Pilate’s

appointment during the reign of Tiberius (AD 14-37). Had

the author of Barnabas really lived during the time of

Jesus, he would never have been mistaken about the date

of Pilate’s appointment as governor.

6) The high priesthood of Hanna and Caiaphas

According chapter 3 of Barnabas, the high priests serving

 

at the time of Jesus’ birth were Hanna and Caiaphas.

But according to historical records, Hanna became high

priest in AD 6, while Caiaphas served as high priest from

AD 8-36. (Cf. Injil, Luke 3:1).

B. THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS

REEKS OF THE ATMOSPHERE

OF MEDIEVAL EUROPE.

1. Cultural details peculiar to the Middle Ages.

Anyone who reads the Gospel of Barnabas quickly

realizes that it is a description of European society in the

Middle Ages, and not of Palestine in the 1st century.

Despite all precautions to the contrary, any such forgery

soon betrays itself. The Gospel of Barnabas is no

exception.

Money

Chapter 54 of the Gospel of Barnabas mentions a gold

dinar made up of 60 minuti:

For he who would get in change a piece of

gold (dinar) must have sixty mites (minuti).

The dinar in use in the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day,

however, was made of silver, not gold. And every dinar was

 

divided into 16 as, each of which in turn were subdivided

into 4 quadrans. There was no monetary unit

called the minuti in use during Jesus’ day. Archaeological

discoveries make clear, on the other hand, that the gold

dinar and the minuti mentioned in the Gospel of Barnabas

were used as monetary units only in Spain during the

Visigoth period (AD 400-800).

Court procedures

Barnabas also refers to a legal proceedure in use only

during the Middle Ages. Chapter 121 says:

When the governor hath arrested a prisoner

whom he examineth while the notary

writeth down (the case), tell me, how doth

such a man talk?

In the 1st century when Jesus lived, it was unknown

during the interrogation of a suspect by a judge for the

testimony to be recorded by a notary public.

Dueling

In chapter 99, Barnabas even mentions a slaying of a

suitor by his rival:

Ye know that when a youth loveth a lady,

and she love not him, but another, he is

moved to indignation and slayeth his rival.

Such an illustration fits the picture of chivalry which

prevailed everywhere in Europe of the Middle Ages. No

such tradition of murder to settle affairs of the heart even

existed among people of the Middle East in the 1st

century.

Casks

In chapter 152 of the Gospel of Barnabas, Jesus

miraculously drives away the soldiers sent to arrest him.

The soldiers, says “Barnabas,” were “rolled out of the

Temple as one rolleth casks of wood when they are

washed to refill them with wine.” In 1st century Middle

Eastern countries, wineskins — not wooden casks —

made from animal hides were used to preserve wine (see

Injil, Matthew 9:17) .

Sugar

In chapter 119 of the Gospel of Barnabas, these words

are found:

If man could change dung into gold and

clay into sugar, what would he do?

 

Both the Encyclopedia Britannica and Chamber’s

Encyclopedia agree that sugar arrived in the Mediterranean

world only in the 7th century A.D., thanks to Arab

Muslim traders. The Arabs learned sugar refining from

the Iranians, who had learned it in the 6th century from

the people of India. Europeans learned it from Muslim

Arabs.

Until the 16th century, Europe’s largest sugar refiner was

the city of Venice. (Incidentally, the Italian dialect in

which the Gospel of Barnabas is written, as well as the

watermark on the paper on which it was printed, suggest

that the author may have visited Venice.) Until the 18th

century, sugar was an extremely expensive commodity.

As an example, sugar is listed among the precious “jewels”

given as part of the wedding trousseau of Hungarian

crown princess Maria Theresa in 1736. Thanks to the

production of beet sugar beginning in 1747, sugar was no

longer a luxury product.

Sugar was an unknown substance in Palestine of the 1st

century. The reader needs to understand that for Jesus to

mention sugar is as ridiculous as if he had mentioned

automobiles. The mention of sugar in the Gospel of

Barnabas exposes the author as complete fraud.

Green summers

Barnabas’ descriptions of the summer beauty of Israel’s

fields and valleys are reminiscent, not of the sun-scorched

and bone-dry Palestine of Jesus’ day, but of the lush

greenery of Italy (Barnabas chapter 169).

Stone quarries

In the Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 109, workers in the

stone quarries are described. Though there certainly were

stone quarries here and there in 1st century Palestine, it

was the quarries and stoneworkers of Italy who were

world-famous. The quarries of Palestine go unmentioned

in the literature of any nation. Barnabas’ mention of

quarries proves that he is thinking of Italy in the Middle

Ages.

Soldiers at drill

Barnabas writes about soldiers in peacetime undergoing

training and tactical maneuvers (chapter 110). Italy of the

Middle Ages overflowed with mercenaries. It was

common to see them drilling. In 1st century literature,

however, the daily life of soldiers in peacetime was never

considered a subject worthy of being recorded. Moreover,

the only army in 1st century Palestine was the Roman

army of occupation, passionately hated by every Jew. Had

the Lord Jesus used the Roman army as an example, as

Barnabas supposes, he would have been torn to shreds

by his Jewish hearers.

Feudal system

The system known as feudalism — at

the height of its power in the Middle Ages but completely

unknown in the 1st century — shows up in the Gospel of

Barnabas. Under the feudal system, the land was shared

among various lords, who in turn subdivided it and rented

it out to their serfs. The serfs were bound in perpetuity to

their masters, all the more so in times of war.

The author of the Gospel of Barnabas describes Mary,

Martha and Lazarus as though each of them were feudal

lords, with all the land of the village where they lived

being under their control (Barnabas, chapter 194). In fact,

no such system existed among 1st century Jews.

Later, in

chapter 122, a vassal is described who owes one portion of

the annual produce to his lord. This fits the social

situation that prevailed in the Middle Ages. The vassal in

the 1st century, however, was not a tenant but merely a

common laborer, and was obliged to surrender to the

master the entirety of the annual yield of the land.

The Physical Dimensions of the Gospel of Barnabas

Even the physical dimensions of the Gospel of Barnabas

are worthy of our attention. The Italian copy of Barnabas,

 

consisting of 222 chapters, draws heavily from the

Tuscan diatessaron and the Venetian diatessaron. These two

diatessara (works that summarize and harmonize the four

Gospel accounts into one continuous narrative), were

composed during the 13th and 14th centuries, and were

extremely popular in Italy. Since these diasessara were

written in the 13th century, the Gospel of Barnabas too

must have been written in the Middle Ages.

2. The Hundred-Year Jubilee

The author of the Gospel of Barnabas places in Jesus’

mouth the following answer to a question by the Woman

of Samaria (Injil, John chapter 4):

Io son ueramente mandato da DIO alla

chassa de issdraele im proffeta di sallute.

Ma dapai di me uenira il messia…per il

quale DIO ha fato il monddo. Onde per

tutto il monddo si addorera DIO he

riceuera misserichordia talmente che lo

hanno del iubileo il quale hora ulene ogni

cento hani per il messia sara ridoto in oggni

hanno in ogni locho. (Gospel of Barnabas,

chapter 82. See also chapter 83.)

 

(I am indeed sent to the house of Israel as a

prophet of salvation; but after me shall

come the Messiah, sent of God to all the

world; for whom God hath made the world.

And then through all the world will God be

worshipped, and mercy received, insomuch

that the year of jubilee, which now cometh

every hundred years, shall by the Messiah

be reduced to every year in every place.)

According to the author of the Gospel of Barnabas, the

Year of Jubilee is an event celebrated once every hundred

years. The Jewish Year of Jubilee (Tevrat Leviticus

25.11), however, was celebrated once every fifty

years. The discrepancy can only be explained as follows.

In AD 1300 Pope Boniface VIII declared that a Jubilee

would be celebrated for the first time in the Christian

world. According to the papal proclamation, this Jubilee

would be held once every one hundred years. So much revenue

was generated by the first Jubilee, however, that in AD

1350 Pope Clement VI altered Boniface’s decision, and

declared that from then on the Jubilee would be celebrated

every fifty years.

From 1470 onward, the jubilee was celebrated every 25

years, and toward the end of the 16th century even more

 

frequently. For example, Pope Sixtus the Fifth

proclaimed a jubilee in 1585 to celebrate his own ascent to

the papal throne. This last event may have suggested to

the author of the Gospel of Barnabas that the pope could

proclaim a jubilee any time he so chose.

From the facts above, it is obvious that the Gospel of

Barnabas was, without any doubt, written sometime after

AD 1300 (and most probably in 1585). Quotes by the

author of the Gospel of Barnabas from the works of the

famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri (AD 1265-1321)

strengthen the evidence.

3. Quotations in Barnabas from the poetry of Dante

The presence in the Gospel of Barnabas of numerous

direct quotations from the poetry of Dante constitutes

additional evidence that this work was composed in the

Middle Ages. For example, Dante’s statement, “They go

and serve false, lying gods”, is quoted word-for-word in

the Gospel of Barnabas, chapters 78 and 217. The

expression “rabisa fame” (severe hunger) is also a phrase

quoted direct from Dante. One could give a whole series

of examples like these. [4]

[

4] These are presented in detail in the works of Lonsdale Ragg

and J. Slomp (see Bibliography).

 

The writings of Dante and the teachings of Barnabas

so closely resemble one another that we cannot but

conclude that Barnabas was an ardent reader of Dante.

The delights of Paradise and the tortures of Hell are both

described by Dante and Barnabas in virtually identical

language. (Compare the Gospel of Barnabas, chapters 59

and 60, with Dante’s “Inferno”, canto 3, lines 22 and 103).

According to the Gospel of Barnabas (chapter 135) Jesus

describes the “levels” of Hell to his disciple Peter in this

way:

Sapiate adonque che lo infferno he uno

sebene ha sette cetri luna piu infferiore

dello altre. Onda si chome di sette sorte

sono il pechato che chome sette porte dello

inferno lo ha generato satana chossi ui sono

hiuui sette pene.

(So know that Hell is a single place, but it

has seven levels, one under the other. So,

just as these are seven sins, so too has

Satan produced them in the same form as

the seven gates of Hell. In the same way,

there are seven types of punishment within.)

 

In cantos 5 and 6 of “Inferno”, Dante describes Hell in

nearly identical words.

Barnabas (chapter 106) says that God first created

human senses, then condemned them “…to hell and to

intolerable snow and ice.” The identical concept and words

can be found in Dante’s “Inferno”, canto 28 and 3:22.

In the Gospel of Barnabas, the explanation of human sin,

and how, in the end, it returns like a river to its source —

Satan — is an indirect quote from a section of Dante’s

“Inferno” which describes the rivers of Hell. Moreover,

Barnabas, in words reminiscent of Dante, describes the

way that believers go to Hell, not to be tormented, but to

view the unbelieving in their tortures.

According to chapter 36 of Barnabas, the sinner who, at

the very moment he repents, conceives seven new sins in

his heart, will forever remain beyond the forgiveness of

God. Canto 27 of “Inferno” puts forward the identical

thought. The idea in Barnabas that heaven is a place

where differences of rank and station exist unaccompanied

by worldly strife and jealousy is a concept based entirely

on a work of Dante entitled “Paradise Lost”. (Compare the

Gospel of Barnabas chapter 176 with “Paradise Lost”,

canto 3, line 70.)

 

Another powerful indication that Barnabas has

plagiarized Dante is his description of the “geography of

heaven.” On this subject, Barnabas agrees with Dante,

and flagrantly contradicts the Qur’an. According to the

Qur’an (Sura 2:29), there are seven heavens. Barnabas

agrees with Dante, however, that the number of heavens

is nine (Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 178).

Even though many additional quotations could be culled

from Dante, those cited above suffice to prove our point:

that Barnabas was either a contemporary of Dante, or

lived sometime after him.

4. Influences from the Vulgate translation of the

Tevrat Zebur and Injil in the Gospel of Barnabas

In the 4th century AD, the great Christian scholar

Jerome translated the Tevrat Zebur and Injil into Latin.

With the passage of time, this translation, called the

“Vulgate”, become the official translation of the Roman

Catholic church. The Vulgate, when compared with the

earliest manuscripts of the Tevrat Zebur and Injil,

emerges as a beautiful, carefully wrought translation. But,

like all translations, the Vulgate too has its peculiar flaws.

Certainly there is nothing suspicious about quotations in

the Gospel of Barnabas from the Hebrew originals of the

Tevrat and Zebur. These sacred writings were penned

32

centuries before the time of Christ. What does arouse

one’s suspicions, though, are obvious quotations in

Barnabas from the 4th century Vulgate translation, and

particularly from the Injil in popular Christian use. From

these, it is obvious that the author of the Gospel of

Barnabas lived at least 400 years after the time of Jesus

Christ.

Moreover, despite repeated condemnations of Christian

teaching about Jesus, Barnabas adds nothing to what

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John say on the life and

teachings of Jesus. Barnabas merely feeds back to us the

same information found in the Injil, slightly altered,

condensed or reworked to his own purposes. Yet the

Apostle John clearly states:

Jesus performed many other miracles in the

presence of his disciples, which are not

recorded in this book. (Injil, John 20:30)

and,

Jesus did many other things as well. If

every one of them were written down, I

suppose that even the whole world would

not have room for the books that would be

written. (Injil, John 21:25).

How can it be explained that the author of the Gospel of Barnabas, a purported contemporary of Jesus, is unable to add even one detail of new information about Jesus?

 

Lonsdale Ragg, publisher of the 1907 English translation

of the Gospel of Barnabas, cites in the introduction,

footnotes and index hundreds of examples where

Barnabas borrows from the Vulgate.

The following are only a few of those examples:

Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 74

Lo ascendere nello chor suo

disspone nella valle delle lachrime.

…to ascend in one’s heart setteth

one in the valley of tears.

Vulgate , (Latin) Psalm 84 :6

Ascensiones in corde suo disposuit

in valle lachrymarum.

Ascending in one’s heart setteth one

in the valley of tears.”

The preceeding verse is incorrectly translated in the

Vulgate. The meaning of the original Hebrew is as

follows: ‘’

 

As they [the righteous] pass through the

valley of Baca, they make it a place of

springs.”

The writer of the Gospel of Barnabas, unlike Jesus and

his disciples, didn’t know Hebrew. Without realizing his

error, he merely parrots the mistake of the Vulgate.

Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 12

…auanti lucifero…ti o chreato.

…before Lucifer…I created thee.

Vulgate (Latin), Psalm 110:3

…ante luciferum genui te.

…before Lucifer (or before the

morning star) I brought you into

being.

The Hebrew original of this verse, however, is:

Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of

the dawn you will receive the dew of your

youth.

The author of the Gospel of Barnabas has again fallen

into the same translation error as the Vulgate.

Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 118

Lo hochio mio he uno ladro il quale roba la

anima mia.

Mine eye is a thief that robbeth my soul.

Vulgate (Latin), Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:51

Oculus meus depraedatus est animam me

am.

My eye hath robbed my soul.

The Hebrew original says:

What I see brings grief to my soul.

Barnabas, in verse 12, however, quotes this verse exactly

as it is translated in the Vulgate.

Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 4

Uediamo la parola.

Let us…see the word…

Vulgate, Luke 2:15

Videamus hoc verbum.

Let us…see this word…

The original Greek of this verse in the Injil, however, is:

Let us…see this thing (or this event) which

has happened…

Barnabas again shows that he is merely quoting from the

Vulgate.

 

More examples would only reduce the reader to

boredom. Those who are interested will find dozens of

similar mistranslations and quotations listed in the

foreword, footnotes and index of Lonsdale Ragg’s work.

All of these examples prove that the Gospel of Barnabas

was written much later than the time of Jesus Christ. In

order to quote from the Vulgate translation of the Injil, a

person would have to live in the 4th century or later.

The strangest part of this business is this: The author of

the Gospel of Barnabas, while violently condemning the

Apostle Paul, nevertheless unwittingly quotes from his

epistles.[5]

[5] These letters constitute a portion of the Injil in use by Christians.

Two examples will suffice:

1) According to chapter 166 of the Gospel of

Barnabas, the Apostle Andrew says to Jesus:

“But how is it to be understood which God said to Moses,

that he will have mercy on whom he willeth to have mercy

and will harden whom he willeth to harden?”

 

God’s promise to “have mercy on whom I will have

mercy” is found in Exodus 33:19.

But the expression “God…hardens whom he wants to

harden” is Paul’s interpretation of Exodus

33:19, added on to his own quotation (compare

Injil, Romans 9:15 with 9:18) from the Tevrat.

2) According to chapter 199 of Barnabas, the

prophet Isaiah says:

Since the beginning of the world men have not

heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the

eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath

prepared for him that waiteth for him.

In actual fact, what Isaiah wrote was:

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has

perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you,

who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

Inspired by Isaiah’s words, the Apostle

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian

church, chapter 2, verse 9, penned the

following:

 

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has

conceived what God has prepared for those who

love him.

It’s obvious that Barnabas, while supposing that he is

quoting from Isaiah, actually quotes from the Apostle Paul

himself. Then, an even more interesting thing than this

occurs.

This same verse from the Apostle Paul — whom some

Muslim writers (including Barnabas) condemn so fiercely

— shows up in the following hadith as recounted by Abu

Hureyra:

The Apostle of God (Peace be upon him)

said: Almighty God says: No eye has seen,

no ear has heard, nor has the heart of man

conceived the things which I have prepared

for the one I have justified. [6]

[6] Mişkat ül-masabih, H.S. 1297 printing, page 487.

In this hadith, the prophet of Islam says that these words

— a quotation from a letter of the Apostle Paul — are the

personal words of Almighty God himself!

 

 

Even if we had no further proof, this hadith alone

would suffice to prove that the Prophet of Islam lived after

the time of Jesus. In the same way, “Barnabas,” by directly

quoting from a letter of the Apostle Paul, proves that he

too can only have lived at a time later than that of Jesus

and his apostles.

5. Traces of doctrines peculiar to the Middle Ages

Certain doctrines peculiar to the Middle Ages also make

obvious the date when the Gospel of Barnabas was really

written. The previously mentioned doctrine of the Seven

Deadly Sins, in chapter 135 of the Gospel of Barnabas, was

unknown prior to the 7th century. Mysticism,

predestination, the free will of Man, and similar subjects

were fiercely debated among scholars of the Middle Ages.

Barnabas’ views on these subjects sharply conflict with

even the Qur’an itself.

According to Barnabas, God has

given Man a free will. Everything that happens to Man is

the consequence of Man’s own activity. (See Barnabas,

chapters 163 and 164.) The Qur’an, though, says:

Lo! this is an Admonishment, that

whosoever will may choose a way unto his

Lord.

Yet ye will not, unless Allah willeth! Lo!

Allah is Knower, Wise.

(Sura 76:29-30)

 

The asceticism which Barnabas praises is also totally at

variance with 1st century thought. In chapter 91,

Barnabas says:

Apresso alia quadrigessima tutta la iudea

hera in arma.

…nigh upon the Forty days all Judea was up

in arms

“Quadrigessima” (Forty Days) is the Italian name for the

great forty-day period of fasting by both Orthodox and

Roman Catholics just before Easter. The Jews never

observed such a fast. The custom of fasting forty days as a

memorial of the time Jesus fasted in the wilderness (see

Matthew 4:2) was only adopted by the Christian church in

the 2nd century.

In chapter 125 of Gospel of Barnabas, Jesus says:

Mentre che lo homo he in stato di pechato

debe sempre pentirsi he farne penitenzza.

As long as a man is in a state of sin, he

ought always to repent and do penance for

it.

 

Penance is a punishment declared by a priest

in order to persuade God to forgive the sin in question.

Penance, however, is a purely Roman Catholic tradition,

and only came into practice centuries after the time of

Christ.

In various chapters of the Gospel of Barnabas, purgatory

(Araf) is mentioned also. Purgatory is an imaginary

intermediate place of fire, supposed to exist between

heaven and hell. Belief in purgatory did not develop until

the 4th century.

C. OTHER ILLOGICAL POINTS

IN THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS

In the view of this writer, it has been adequately proven

that the Gospel of Barnabas was written in the Middle

Ages. In fact, of the examples cited above, one or two

alone would have sufficed to prove that this work is a

forgery. In the following paragraphs, though, we would

like to draw the reader’s attention to some of the other

bits of foolishness in this so-called “gospel.” Our aim is to

demonstrate that our readers do themselves a disservice

when they resort to such a worthless work as the Gospel

of Barnabas

 

1) Made-up numbers

Barnabas relates several stories which are reminiscent of

the legends and tales of antiquity; Chapter 35 says:

God having created a mass of earth, and

having left it for twenty-five thousand years

without doing aught else; Satan, who was

as it were priest and head of the angels by

the great understanding that he possessed,

knew that God, of that mass of earth, was

to take one hundred and forty and four

thousand signed with the mark of

prophecy, and the messenger of God, the

soul of which he had created sixty thousand

years before aught else.

From where, from what source, did Barnabas take these

figures? Neither the Qur’an, nor the Tevrat Zebur or Injil

declare the age of the world and of humanity, the number

of prophets, or the date when the prophet of Islam was

created.

According to Barnabas, the number of prophets

is 144,000. What Muslim or Christian can name even 100

prophets? Why was the number 144,000 chosen, a

number without any importance whatsoever from the

viewpoint of the sacred? What is the point in revealing

that the prophet of God was created 60,000 years before

the rest of creation? Is anyone more important than

anyone else simply because they were created first? In

that case, Adam was more important than Moses, and

Moses more important than Jesus! It’s patently obvious

that Barnabas has made up off the top of his head these

numbers which he takes such great care to share with us.

[* Translator's note: 144,000 is the number cited in Revelation that is representative (in some way, opinions differ) of those who have come triumphant through the Great Tribulation. It is not unreasonable that the author of the Gospel of Barnabas might have seized on that number to enhance the Muslim tradition of prophets sent to the nations with the true religion of Islam. *]

In chapter 53, too, Barnabas liberally adorns his

description of the fifteen days preceeding the resurrection

with an assortment of similarly fabricated and ridiculous

numbers.

2) The Tale of the Serpent

Barnabas relates unbelievable tales of the creation of

Man and his fall into sin (chapters 40-41). Says he, once

upon a time a horrid serpent, which had legs like a camel,

stood guard at the gate of paradise. Satan approached him

and said:

Open thy mouth, and I will enter into thy

belly, and so thou entering into paradise

shalt place me near to those two lumps of

clay (Adam and Eve) that are newly walking

upon the earth. (chapter 40)

After the serpent acquiesced, Satan deceived Eve into

disobeying God by eating the “apples and corn” that he

had forbidden to be eaten. After Eve partook of the

fruit, she in turn deceived her husband Adam into eating.

As he was eating, however, Adam remembered the words

of God, and thrust his hand down his own throat. This is

why every man today has the mark of an apple in his

throat! Immediately, then, God commanded the angel

Michael to cut off the legs of the serpent, which explains

why serpents now must go about crawling on their bellies.

This is a summary of “Barnabas’” story. Some of the

details are also found in eastern folk tales. How far all of

them are, though, from the simple and straightforward

description of the Holy Bible. And how totally illogical! Is

it really because the first serpent’s legs were cut off that all

serpents today crawl upon the ground? As everyone knows,

nature’s law of physical inheritance only operates through

the genetic make-up of an organism, not through

accidents and injuries. In other words, if a man loses his

arm in an accident, his son will not be born with only one

arm! A child will not be born circumcised just because his

father was circumcised!

D. POINTS OF DISAGREEMENT

BETWEEN THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS

AND THE QUR’AN

Some of the teachings of the Gospel of Barnabas

contradict the Qur’an itself. As we mentioned before, the

Qur’an and Barnabas give conflicting information about

the topography of Paradise. The Qur’an says there are

seven heavens, Barnabas says there are nine (compare

Barnabas chapter 188 with Sura 2:29 of the Qur’an).

On the subject of the birth of Jesus, Barnabas — relying

on Catholic theory of the Middle Ages — says in chapter

3:

The virgin…brought forth her son without

pain

According to the Qur’an, however, (Sura 19:23); Mary

says:

And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto

the trunk of the date palm tree. She said:

Oh, would that I had died ere this and had

become a thing of naught, forgotten!

 

On the subject of marriage, Barnabas, in chapter,115,

attributes these words to Jesus:

Let a man content himself therefore with

the wife whom his creator hath given him,

and let him forget every other woman.

The Qur’an, however, permits a man to marry up to four

women, if he so wishes.

In chapter 44, Barnabas accuses the Jewish scribes of

corrupting the Tevrat. This accusation, no doubt, is

meant to be applied to the scribes of Jesus’ day or earlier.

But, in fact, there is not a shred of historical evidence to

support the idea that the scribes of that day altered their

copies of the Tevrat. Nor is such an accusation found

anywhere in the Qur’an . The prophet of Islam knew that

the Tevrat and Injil in use during his time were true.

[7] One should beware of a number of Turkish translations which

conflict with the Qur’an on this subject. These translations

slander the documents of the Tevrat and Injil by means of a host

of additions [supposed clarifications inside brackets] that are not

found in the original Qur’anic text. We say this most

emphatically: there is not a single verse in the original

Qur’anic text about the original texts of the Injil or the

Tevrat having been changed.

Sura 2:113, speaking of the Christians and the

Jews, says:

…All of them are readers of the Tevrat and

Injil which were sent down to them.

Muslims ought not to revere the Qur’an above other

sacred writings, for in Sura 2:136 it is written:

(O Muslims) say: We believe in Allah and

that which is revealed unto us (the Qur’an)

and that which was sent down unto

Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and

Jacob, and the tribes, and (those books)

which Moses and Jesus received, and (those

books) which the Prophets received from

their Lord. We make no distinction

between any of them… (See Sura 3:84)

The Prophet of Islam resorted to the Tevrat in order to

settle a dispute between two Jews (Sura 3:23). The

Qur’an repeatedly says that it was sent down not to set

aside the Injil, but to ratify it (e.g. Sura 3:3-4).

Had the Tevrat and Injil been altered, or had their true

copies been lost, it would have been impossible to

compare them with the Qur’an. As a result, it would have

 

been impossible for anyone ever to know whether the

Qur’an did or did not ratify them.

We know well from historical documents what great

lengths the Jewish scholars went to accurately copy the

Tevrat. The prophet of Islam, too, was well aware of this,

as has been recorded in Sura 5:44:

Lo! We (Allah) did reveal the Torah

(Tevrat), wherein is guidance and a light,

by which the Prophets who surrendered

(unto Allah) judged the Jews, and the

rabbis and the priests (judged) by such of

Allah’s Scripture as they were bidden to

observe, and thereunto were they

witnesses.

This quotation from the Qur’an has been verified by

archaeological findings. In 1947, a copy of the Pentateuch

(Tevrat) dating from the 2nd century B.C. was discovered

by a Muslim shepherd in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. The

oldest copy of the Pentateuch known before that time

dated from the 8th century A.D. When these two texts

were compared, it was obvious that there was virtually no

difference between them, despite the passage of a

thousand years.

 

Altering a copy of the Tevrat would, for all practical

purposes, be impossible. First, Christians and Jews, who

use the same Pentateuch but otherwise don’t cooperate

with one another, would never have agreed to change the

text.

Second, the Samaritans, a splinter group who left

mainstream Judaism in the 5th century B.C. and have

maintained their own separate cultural identity ever since,

have for 2500 years been totally independently copying

the Tevrat. Between their copies and those of the

Christians and Jews, there is virtually no difference.

The

accusation by Barnabas and various ill-informed Muslim

writers that “the Pentateuch and the Gospel (Tevrat and

Injil) have been changed,” is obviously totally contrary to

all logic and scientific knowledge, as well as to the Qur’an

itself.

According to “Barnabas,” God’s promise to Abraham was

for his son Ishmael, not for Isaac (see chapter 13). The

Qur’an, however, doesn’t make clear which son the

promise applied to, and early commentators on the Qur’an

confess that they don’t know where the

truth lies in the matter. The earliest and most respected

commentatators, however, say that the promise of God was

given to Isaac.

The renowned commentator Razi was unable to reach a

firm decision. But later interpreters, bowing to the

 

pressure of Arab nationalism, dogmatically assert that

the one to whom the promise was given was Ishmael,

father of the Arab race. What tragic conclusions this

dogmatism has dragged Barnabas and these later Qur’anic

commentators to! Just like the author of the Gospel of

Barnabas, many Muslims too — by claiming that the Jews

deceitfully substituted the name of Isaac in place of

Ishmael — have come to stand against both the Tevrat and

the Qur’an itself.

One of the most astounding aspects of the Gospel of

Barnabas is its failure to mention John the Baptist, the

contemporary and forerunner of Jesus. Barnabas

deliberately attempts to erase the name of John the Baptist

from the pages of history. For what reason? According to

the four Gospel accounts, John the Baptist, despite being

called the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, says of

Jesus: “I am not worthy to untie the thongs of his sandals”.

(John 1:27)

Barnabas, however, has a purpose in ignoring John the

Baptist: to present Jesus as simply an ordinary prophet

and the forerunner of the Prophet of Islam .

[8]

Yet according to the Qur’an (Sura 3:39), John the Baptist was

sent to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ who is the Word of

God (Kelime min-Allah).

 

The existence of John the Baptist is forgotten because

it flies in the face of Barnabas’s purpose. Because Barnabas

wants to recast Jesus in the role of John the Baptist, and

Muhammed in the role of Jesus. So he repeatedly denies

that Jesus is the Messiah — God’s chosen saviour of the

world. In chapter 96, for example, Barnabas puts these

words in Jesus’ mouth:

Truly I am not the Messiah, for he was

created before me and is coming after me.

The Qur’an, however, time and again states that Jesus is

the one and only Messiah. Sura 3:45 says:

The angels have said: “O Mary, Allah has

blessed you with a Word from Himself; his

name is Jesus the Messiah, the Son of Mary

(see also Sura 4:171-172).

It is obvious that Barnabas is not merely at odds with the

Injil; he even contradicts the Qur’an. The extent of his

confusion is shown in the opening words of his work:

“Barnabas, the apostle of Jesus of Nazareth, who is called

the Christ…!”

In another place (chapter 6) he writes:

Thus Herod gathered the priests and

scribes together and asked: Where is Christ

to be born? And they answered him: He

will be born in Bethlehem, for thus it has

been written in the prophets. (Compare

this with Matthew 2:5-6 and Micah 5:2.)

In other words, according to “Barnabas,” Jesus is called

“Christ,” but not “Messiah!” Barnabas may have been well

acquainted with the Latin translation of the Bible, but his

knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, the original languages in

which the Old and New Testaments were written, must

have been near zero.

The Hebrew word “Mashiyah”, the Arabic “Mesih”, the

Italian “Messia”, and the Greek “Christ” — all have exactly

the same meaning. (See John 1:41.) It was because the

Greek word for Messiah was “Christ” that early non-Jewish

followers of Jesus were called “Christians”. One of the

names given in Arabic to Christians today is “Mesihî”

(Followers of the Mesiah).

In summary, the Gospel of Barnabas is contrary to both

the Injil and the Qur’an, and should not be considered

authoritative by either Christians or Muslims. Christians

have long realized that it is a fraud. That is why it no

longer excites any interest in the West — just like the

forged diaries once attributed to Hitler. Muslims of real

integrity, too, will openly admit that the Gospel of

Barnabas is a forgery.

 

CHAPTER 2

EXTERNAL EVIDENCES

FOR THE DATE OF AUTHORSHIP

OF THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS

In the preceeding chapter, we examined the internal

evidence for the date when the Gospel of Barnabas was

written. In the light of these evidences, one can only

conclude that the Gospel of Barnabas was written in the

Middle Ages. In this chapter we will see how the external

evidences also lead us to the same conclusion.

a) Only two copies of the Gospel of Barnabas exist

One was written in Italian, the other in Spanish. In Jesus’

time, the languages Italian and Spanish did not exist.

Therefore, the copies we have cannot be original; they can

only be translations. The original Injil could only have

been written in a language spoken in Jesus’ time. What a

pity that even though the copies of the Gospel of Barnabas

in existence are only translations, they give us no clue

from what language they were translated.

The Italian copy of the Gospel of Barnabas came into the

possession of J.F. Cramer, a scholar in Amsterdam, the

capital of Holland, in 1709. After being shown to several

 

people, the manuscript was sold in 1713 to Austrian

Prince Eugene, an ardent collector of manuscripts. From

that day until now, it has been preserved in the

Hofbibliotek, the old Imperial Library in Vienna.

Although the Gospel of Barnabas is first mentioned in

1709, it is certain that the copy in the Hofbibliotek was

produced before that date. Experts who have examined the

manuscript (for example, Professor Luigi Cirillo) agree —

from the style of writing, the binding, and the watermark

on the paper — that it belongs to the second half of the

16th century. So, if we were to rely solely on the external

evidence, we would have to conclude that the Gospel of

Barnabas did not exist until the 16th century.

It is especially interesting that the Gospel of Barnabas

would first come to light in the city of Amsterdam. In the

16th century, many of those who fled the hated tribunals

of the Spanish Inquisition took refuge in Amsterdam. One

of these escapees may have taken the Gospel of Barnabas

there. It is a known fact that many counterfeit religious

works were penned in Spain. In March 1588, two Spanish

Muslims, Alonso de Castillo and Miguel de Luna, were

caught in Grenada (Spain) in the act of producing

counterfeit Arabic “gospels.”

 

In the Spain of that day, especially around Grenada,

there were multitudes of Muslims. Between 1575 and

1610, a fanatical Roman Catholic Church violently

persecuted these Muslims. Only a little earlier the Church

had exterminated all Protestants in Spain. Even Christians

who used the commonly-accepted true Injil (let alone

counterfeiters of false ones!) were being dealt the death

penalty. The cruelties of these vicious Inquisitors may

have incited Spanish Muslims to take revenge by writing a

false Injil. We have to be understanding toward Muslims

who did this.

According to the “Tale of Fra (Friar) Marino” as told

below, the Gospel of Barnabas was discovered during the

reign of Pope Sixtus the Fifth (AD 1585-90), the most

violent era of the Inquisition [9].

[9] According to Italian language experts, the Italian copy of the

Gospel of Barnabas was the work of someone whose mother

tongue was not Italian (for example, a Spaniard). The dialect

used is similar to the dialects spoken in two separate regions of

Italy: Tuscany and Venice. It is known that, in that era, Venice

had close relations with Spain. Between 1558 and 1568, Father

Felice Peretti de Montalto, the Chief Inquisitor in Venice,

severely persecuted Spanish background Muslims who fell into

his hands. Montalto became pope in 1585, took the title Sixtus

the Fifth, and (as stated on page 3) proclaimed a jubilee that

year. If the author of the Gospel of Barnabas was a Spanish Muslim,

he may have been one of those tortured by Montalto. It would therefore

have been perfectly natural for him to write a counterfeit Injil in order

to take revenge on Christians!

 

Those who take the position that the Gospel of Barnabas was written in

Spain also draw our attention to the fact that, during the

reign of King Phillip the Second (AD 1556-98) the last

Muslims to be driven from Spain were unable to preserve

their knowledge of Arabic. And, as we will see later, the

marginal notes of the Gospel of Barnabas were written in

very bad Arabic.

b) The first mention of an Italian copy of the Gospel

of Barnabas occurs in a Spanish book which comes

from Tunis in 1634.

George Sale, an 18th century English scholar, quoted a

large portion of this Italian copy in the introduction to his

English translation of the Qur’an. After Sale, however, this

Spanish copy of the Gospel of Barnabas was lost, and only

preserved in part in his introduction. A few years ago,

however, a complete manuscript of the Spanish copy again

found the light of day in Australia.

On the title page of the Spanish copy it is asserted that

the book was translated from Italian by a Spanish Muslim

named Mostafa de Aranda. It should be carefully noted

that neither the Spanish copy, nor the Italian, indicates

the language in which the Gospel of Barnabas was first

written. As we said earlier, the original Injil could not have been

written in either Italian or Spanish because these

languages did not exist in the time of Jesus.

In the introduction to the Spanish edition, there is a

story told from the viewpoint of the person who

supposedly discovered the Italian copy (from which the

Spanish was apparently translated). The person telling the

story introduces himself as an Italian monk named Fra

(Friar) Marino. He describes how he found the Gospel of

Barnabas during the time of Pope Sixtus the Fifth (AD

1585-1590):

Fra Marino, purely by accident, happened

on a work of Ireneus, in which Ireneus,

relying on the Gospel of Barnabas, was

condemning Paul. Fra Marino was seized

with a desire to find this Gospel of

Barnabas. With God’s help he was able to

win the friendship of Pope Sixtus the Fifth.

One day, while Fra Marino and the Pope

were in the papal library, the Pope nodded

off. Fra Marino put his hand on a bookshelf

to select a book to read. The first book he

touched was the very Gospel of Barnabas

that he had wanted so badly to read.

Overjoyed, and without the slightest

 

hesitation, he slipped the book under his

robes, and, when the Pope awakened, left

the room, taking with him this divine

treasure. After reading the work, he

converted to Islam.

There are many aspects of this amazing story that arouse

suspicion:

1) The story does not appear in the original Italian

edition from which the Muslim translator, Mostafa de

Aranda, made his Spanish copy. Moreover, there is no

other source against which this story can be checked. Who

knows whether or not Mostafa himself simply made up

the story?

2) Several aspects of the story border on the

ridiculous. The Pope’s nodding off, and the “accidental”

finding and theft of the Gospel of Barnabas, remind one

more of the product of someone’s imagination than of an

historical event.

3) Ireneus of Smyrna (AD 130-200), a widely respected

scholar in the Christian world, was a disciple of

Polycarp, who himself had been taught by the Apostle

John, one of Jesus’ disciples. In other words, between Jesus

and Ireneus only one generation had passed. Numerous

 

copies of Ireneus’ works are still extant. One of these is

a five-volume(!) work titled Against Heresies (Adversus

Haereses), which aims to refute the false beliefs of his day.

Neither in this work, nor in any of his other works, does

Ireneus condemn the Apostle Paul. On the contrary,

Ireneus believed that all of Paul’s writings had been

inspired by God. Nowhere in his writings does Ireneus

ever mention the Gospel of Barnabas. He repeatedly

affirms that the Gospel was recorded in four parts:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John [10].

[10] Irenius, _*Adversus Haereses,_ [*volume 3, chapter 1(i).]

If it was not Mostafa de Aranda who fabricated this

story, then it was certainly the individual who calls

himself “Fra Marino“. One of the two men is a liar, because

the internal and external evidence of the Gospel itself

disproves this story.

Some people have put forward the idea that the original

manuscript of the Gospel of Barnabas was written in

Arabic. There is, however, no evidence whatsoever to

support this. We must keep these facts before us:

1) No such assertion can be found in either the

Spanish or in the Italian editions of this work. Other than

that it was written by “Barnabas,” the work itself gives no

clues as to its origins. As we pointed out earlier, the

title of a work, taken by itself, proves absolutely nothing.

2) Linguistic experts agree that the Italian edition

of the Gospel of Barnabas was neither a translation from

Arabic, nor from any other language. It bears all the signs

of being an original work. Nor do the Arabic marginal

notes prove that there was an Arabic original. On the

contrary, these marginal notes are in the handwriting

typical of a European who possessed only a third-rate

knowledge of Arabic, and are rife with major errors.

For

example, the title of chapter 25 (Sura Zabt ul-nafs) reads

سورة ألزبطل ألنفس

 

But, as anyone who reads Arabic knows, it should have

been written

سورة ألضبط للنفس

 

The manuscript is full of mistakes like this one.

Obviously the Arabic notes are translations by a European

from the Italian edition.

3) Eighteenth century scholars who studied the

Spanish edition called on Muslims everywhere to search

for and locate the Arabic edition of the Gospel of

Barnabas. The so-called “Arabic original” of this work,

however, has never come to light, neither then nor now,

because no such edition ever existed.

Where did the idea come from that Barnabas wrote a

Gospel? The first mention of a work entitled The Gospel

of Barnabas was in the 6th century A.D. There, the

Evangelium Barnabe (Gospel of Barnabas) first appears in

chapter six of an official church proclamation (attributed

to Pope Gelasius who ruled from AD 492-496) of a list of

banned heretical books. This proclamation, though, was

never made by Gelasius! Western experts agree that it is

only part of a collection of forged documents — the so called

False Encyclicals of Gelasius — circulated during

various periods in church history. The collection was

actually assembled by an ordinary parish priest from

Southern France or Northern Italy at the beginning of the

6th century.

Just for the sake of argument, though, even if Pope

Gelasius had produced these encyclicals, he still could

have succeeded in banning heretical books in only a few

Roman Catholic strongholds. He had no authority

whatsoever to prohibit the reading of any particular book

 

in Armenian, Georgian, Coptic, or Indian churches.

Moreover, the Encyclicals of Gelasius recommended that

Christians not be allowed to read certain forbidden

writings. The encyclicals say nothing about penalties for

those caught reading such works. Finally, the political

strength of the popes during the 5th century was quite

limited, not even extending over all those Christians who

named themselves Catholic. Only in the Middle Ages, by

employing such cruel methods as the Inquisition, were

popes able to effectively silence their opposition.

 

Perhaps the reader is thinking, “OK, these documents

aren’t really the encyclicals of Gelasius. So what! They

were written during the 6th century, which means that

sometime in the 6th century there must have been a work

bearing the title the Gospel of Barnabas, right?” The

answer again is, No.

1) It cannot be proven that the Evangelium Barnaba

listed in the False Encyclicals of Gelasius is the same work as

the Gospel of Barnabas in existence today. As anyone who

has ever visited a library knows, two authors can easily, by

accident, give the same name to their two separate works.

2) There is a strong probability that the Evangelium

Barnaba never even existed. In a still extant work entitled

The Acts of Barnabas (written before 478 AD) [11], one

finds this sentence about the Gospel which the Apostle

Barnabas used in his home country of Cyprus:

“Barnabas opened his Gospel which he had

obtained from his co-laborer Matthew [12]

and began to teach the Jews.”

[11] This work too was not really written by Barnabas.

[12] Matthew was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles.

If one skips over the italicized words, the sentence

suggests that Barnabas used a Gospel he himself had

written! In AD 478, leaders of the Cypriot church

announced that they had discovered the remains of

Barnabas. According to the story, one of the church

leaders, as a result of a vision he had been given, said that

the bones definitely belonged to Barnabas. Why would the

Cypriot church leadership fabricate such a tale? To be

able to say, “Our church, too, was founded by one of the

apostles”, and so increase their respect in the Christian

world.

Still another legend was woven from the above quoted

sentence, and preserved in a work entitled Acta Sanctorum

(The Acts of the Saints), published in Belgium in 1698:

 

 

“The remains of Barnabas were discovered

in Cyprus in the year AD 478, during the

reign of the emperor Zeno. On the saint’s

breast lay the Gospel he himself had copied;

yes, the Gospel According to Matthew

was on his breast.”

Again, if the boldfaced words are omitted (whether with

wrong intention or not), a gospel is attributed to the

Apostle Barnabas! Those who opposed the fabrications of

the Cypriot church leaders no doubt believed

wholeheartedly that they were fighting against the Church

accepting a false gospel. But, in fact, they only succeeded

in keeping off of a list of banned works a book which

never even existed.

The intriguing part of this whole business is that in

Karachi (Pakistan) in 1973, the Begum Aisha Bawany

Foundation published an unauthorized English translation

of the Gospel of Barnabas (published in the U.S. by

Crescent Imports and Publications, P.O. Box 7827, Ann

Arbor, MI 48107), which deliberately omitting the words

“Gospel according to Matthew” from the above quotation”,

thereby “proving” that the Gospel of Barnabas was used by

the Early Church. In other words, in order to prove that a

fradulent work is genuine, they themselves fraudulently

altered the original document from which they were

quoting!

3) It is important that we repeat: the title “Gospel of

Barnabas” does not appear anywhere prior to the 17th

century except in the fraudulent False Encyclicals of

Gelasius. In light of this fact, some scholars have

explained the mention of the Gospel of Barnabas in this

document in the following way:

Because the False Encyclicals of Gelasius was not

considered an important document by the early

church, it was not printed until the end of the 16th

century. Until that time, it [the Gospel of

Barnabas] existed only in the form of a single

hand-written copy. Perhaps “Fra Marino” or some

other individual really did enter the papal library in

secret, and, in order to win respect for the newly

written “Gospel of Barnabas”, added the

name “Evangelium Barnabe.” When this little-known

document was delivered to the printer,

nobody caught on to the deception. What a shame

that the document’s original hand-written copy has

been lost. As a result, we cannot know if the title

“Evangelium Barnabe” was added to the document

at a later date or not.

 

Besides the Evangelium Barnabe referred to in the False

Encyclicals of Gelasius, two additional works were attributed

to the Apostle Barnabas: 1) The Acts of Barnabas, written

several centuries after the birth of Christ, but which

probably incorporates some accurate information

regarding the spread of Christianity on the island of

Cyprus, and, 2) a very ancient epistle. This epistle (still

extant) was highly regarded by second-century followers

of Christ, but it is questionable whether it was really

written by Barnabas himself. The earliest Christians,

recognizing this possibility, refused to include the epistle

in the New Testament.

It should be emphasized, though,

that neither in the Acts of Barnabas, nor in the Epistle of

Barnabas, is there anything which contradicts the New

Testament used by Christians today. In fact, these two

documents, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the

Gospel of Barnabas, may be the source of the idea that

attributes a false gospel to Barnabas.

The author of the Gospel of Barnabas asserts that

Christ’s original teachings were misinterpreted by the

Apostle Paul [13]. This accusation is totally at variance with

the known thinking of Early Church writers about Barnabas. Numerous works by these authors are still extant. Although they mention many topics which were fiercely debated by the first-century church, nowhere do they ever mention a fundamental difference of belief between Paul and Barnabas.

 

[13] Paul: According to the New Testament, the person who was appointed as apostle to present the gospel to the Gentiles after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Acts of Barnabas and the

Epistle of Barnabas may not have been written by Barnabas

himself, but at least they conform to what Jesus’ followers

knew about the Barnabas who was one of Jesus’ earliest

followers. Otherwise, these two works would never have

won such widespread popular approval. Neither work

mentions any doctrinal difference between Paul and

Barnabas.

Quite the opposite, in fact. The Epistle of

Barnabas, just like Paul’s letters in the New Testament,

sharply condemns those who would demand circumcision

as a way of forcing Gentile believers to become Jews. It is

true that the New Testament records that a personal

disagreement broke out between Paul and Barnabas (Acts

15:36-39). But this disagreement was in no sense a

doctrinal division.

Some anti-Christian Muslim authors, resting their case

on the Gospel of Barnabas, have resurrected the old

argument that Paul corrupted Christ’s original teachings

by making Him out to be God [14].

[14] Some 19th century Western scholars, and many Muslims who

base their own works on those western writings, make the same

accusation. Today, however, this view has virtually disappeared in the West. It has been proven to be a prejudiced and superficial reading of the New Testament. Nowhere does the Apostle Paul conflict on any subject with the writers of other portions of the New Testament. On the contrary, all of them write with amazing unity.

This accusation,

previously noted in the writings of Ibn Hazm (d. AD

1321), el-Karefi (d. AD 1285) and Abu Talib (d. AD

1321), has its source in a variety of Jewish circles, and,

along with other Jewish superstitions, has insinuated itself

into Muslim thinking. Contemporary Muslim thinkers

have rejected these superstitions as contrary to the

tenents of Islam. Logically, then, this concocted tale about

the Apostle Paul scheming to destroy the teachings of

Jesus ought also to be rejected along with the rest of

Jewish superstition.

Other ancient Muslim writers allege that they have

discovered numerous contradictions between the Qur’an

and the Bible (the Tevrat, Zebur and Injil). To explain the

existence of these contradictions, they began accusing

both Christians and Jews of having deliberately changed

their sacred writings. This accusation has never been able

to be proven, and, as we saw earlier, is completely

contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an itself. But stranger

still, not one of these ancient Muslim writers ever

mentions the Gospel of Barnabas! Doubtless had they

known of the existence of a Gospel of Barnabas, it would

have been an irresistable weapon in their hands against Christianity.

 

 

 

 

 

Today the Gospel of Barnabas has been joyously

welcomed in some Muslim circles. Yet how is it that

ancient Muslim writers — like Ibn Hazm [15], who so

mercilessly criticized the Injil of his day — how is is that

they never mention the one writing that would, more than

any other, prove their criticisms correct? Abu Fazl es-

Saudi and el-Jaferi, too, discuss the four gospels

(Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in their writings. These

two Muslim authors — in contrast to Ibn Hazm and

others — conclude that the Injil in use by Christians is

genuine and has only been misinterpreted by the Church.

In their writings, there is not a single mention of the

Gospel of Barnabas.

 

[15] See Ibn Hazm, “Fisal fil-milal vel-ehvâ vel-hihal”

Were all of these, too, ignorant of the existence of the Gospel of

Barnabas? How could a work that so lavishly praised

Islam be kept hidden?

The truth is that, until George Sale published in the

1800’s the first English translation of the Qur’an, Muslim

writers were completely unaware of the existence of the

Gospel of Barnabas.

c) Apart from the 6th century False Encyclicals of

Gelasius and a Spanish book written in 1634, the first

mention of a Gospel of Barnabas was in a work

published in 1709. Innumerable writings are still in

existence from Christian writers of the first five centuries.

Since these writers, representing widely-differing sects,

held opposing viewpoints on a wide range of subjects.

Nevertheless, not one of them mentions a work entitled

the Gospel of Barnabas.

From the external evidence of the Gospel of Barnabas,

then, we must accept the following conclusions:

1) No Arabic original of this work ever existed.

2) Apart from the False Encyclicals of Gelasius, this

work is unknown and unmentioned anywhere in Arabic or

European literature until the 18th century. Above all, the

 

title Gospel of Barnabas may have been intentionally

inserted into the 16th century False Encyclicals.

3) There is not the smallest shred of evidence to

link the Gospel of Barnabas with the work of a similar

name listed in the False Encyclicals of Gelasius. For the

benefit of our readers who may not be scholars, we would

like to emphasize again that two writings’ having the same

title proves nothing by itself. Anyone today could write a

novel and title it Joseph and Zuleyha. There are, in fact,

dozens of books in the world with this same title. But for

that person to identify the modern version with one of the

classical works bearing the same name, without basing that

identification on solid proof, would be absolute nonsense.

And suppose that same modern novel were to be written

in a biographical style, would one then attribute it to

Joseph the husband of Mary? Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Nevertheless, those who say “the Gospel of Barnabas is

the true Gospel” are guilty of drawing from a name just

such an illogical conclusion.

 

CHAPTER 3

Attempts to Hide the Contradictions

in the Gospel of Barnabas

The Pakistan-based Bequm Aisha Bawany Foundation,

from 1973 to the present has circulated an endless stream

of false assertions concerning the Gospel of Barnabas. The

great pity is that, in the process, they have also deceived

many Muslims too. In the third volume of the Turkish

periodical “Gerçeğe Doğru” (Towards the Truth), Dr. M.

Said Başaran, without any historical evidence to back up

his claim, says:

At the Council of Nicea, convened 300 years

after the death of Jesus (325 A.D.), a

committee prohibited, under threat of

severe punishment, the reading of a

number of gospels, and in particular the

Gospel of Barnabas.

As already proven in the booklet “What Happened at the

Council of Nicea”, however, the Council of Nicea met to

debate the question: In what sense is Jesus to be

considered God? The issue of which religious writings

were canonical was never even discussed. On the contrary,

Arius and Athanasius, even while fiercely condemning

one another’s theological positions, each attempted to

support their respective positions from the same Injil, the

same one in use by Christians today.

To all those like Dr. Başaran who say that the Injil was

changed at Nicea, we would like to ask: On what historical

evidence do you base your claims? The sole sources of

information about what was discussed at Nicea are the

historical documents written during and subsequent to

that time. These consist of:

(1) a work by the council president, Eustatius of

Antioch;

(2) a work entitled The Decisions of the Council of Nicea, written by Athanasius between AD 350

and 354, and a letter he wrote to North African

pastors in AD 369;

(3) and a letter written in 325 A.D. by Eusebius of

Caesarea.

Beyond these writings there is no other historical

evidence on the subject of the Council of Nicea. And in

these documents there is not a shred of evidence to

support Dr. Basaran’s claims.

 

The reader should be aware that the claims of those who

say “The priests at the Council of Nicea simply chose four

injils out of a pile of several hundred” and “The Injil was

changed at Iznik” do not rest on any historical proof.

Dr. Başaran says that the Council of Nicea:

…forbade the reading of 396 of the injils

which had been written up to that time. In

particular they concentrated on one of these

injils [ed.: obviously the Gospel of

Barnabas], and announced that anyone

found reading it would be severely

punished.

Extant historical sources, however, show that the council

did not ban the reading of any books. There is not a single

word regarding the existence of a Gospel of Barnabas.

From where, then, did the respected Dr. Basaran come up

with the figure of 396 injils? If one checks the works of

other authors who have written about the Council of Nicea

(again without carrying out any historical research), the

number of injils is variously given as 200, 500, and so on.

Each writer simply makes up his own figure! It should be

noted, too, that not one of these writers reveals where his

sources of information about the Council of Nicea come

 

from, thereby revealing just how devoid of scholarly

value their works really are.

“OK,” you say, “what is the truth about the number of

injils?” Let’s first define the word “injil” (gospel). “Injil” is a

word taken from the Greek word “evangelion” (good

news). For Jesus’ 1st century followers, this “good news”

was the proclamation that he was the Messiah, the one

who had come to save the world. They spread the news

everywhere: “Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us

from our sins. He rose from the dead to give us new life.

Turn from your evil ways, believe in him, and you too can

be saved.”

Jesus disciples believed that he had come, not

to bring a book or a new religion, but to bring spiritual life

and salvation. (As the Qur’an itself says, Jesus himself is the Word

of God, the Promise of God.) Those prophets who

preceded him were merely God’s instruments to

communicate his word to man. Jesus Christ was himself

the Word of God. There was no need to give Jesus a book

from heaven. He himself was God’s Book! And because he

was the perfect revelation of God, he could say, “He who

has seen me has seen the Father (Allah).”

During the thirty years following the death and

resurrection of Jesus, the Injil — the Good News about

Jesus — circulated in oral form. At first the apostles —

Jesus’ earthly representatives — saw no need to write

down this Good News. But in time it became essential

to safeguard for future generations the basic truths about

Jesus life and teachings.

So the Spirit of God chose four

godly men to put the Injil (this Good News) into written

form. Two of the four men (Matthew and John) were

members of the original group of twelve disciples, and the

other two (Mark and Luke) were contemporaries and close

friends of the apostles.

The historical accounts by these four men so closely

agree with one another as to constitute a genuine miracle.

It is because they gave such detailed eyewitness accounts

of the Good News that their writings have been dubbed

“The Gospel According to Matthew”, “The Gospel

According to Mark”, and so on. But this in no way means

that there are four gospels (injils). The Gospel (Injil) is a

single work, recorded as four individual historical

accounts.

From one point of view, there is great similarity between

the process by which the Injil as we know it today came

into being, and process by which the hadith-s [16] of Islam developed.

[16] hadith: the words and actions of the prophet of Islam, considered to

be general law. (Ed.: Accordingly, hadith are assigned to one of six

categories, depending on the reliability of the witness: eyewitness, one

who heard firsthand the testimony of an eyewitness, one who heard the testimony of someone who heard the testimony of an eyewitness, and so on.)

 

In order for a hadith to be considered sahih

(trustworthy), it must have been passed down either from

one of the original followers of Muhammed, or from

someone who personally knew such a person. The four

accounts that comprise the Injil (Matthew, Mark, Luke

and John), too, conform absolutely to the highest Islamic

standards for hadith. They were composed, within a very

short time after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,

either by his apostles or by those who knew the apostles

intimately.

Who in the Muslim world today would believe anyone

who said, “The hadith (traditions) passed down by Muslim

and Buhari are all fraudulent, because a few years ago I

discovered the true hadith "?? In just the same way, we too

must totally reject anyone who says, “I don’t accept the

testimony of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as the true

Injil. The true Injil is the Gospel of Barnabas which was

discovered in the 18th century.”

The Spirit of God also saw fit to record the beginnings of

the first communities of followers of Christ, and, assigned

this task to Luke, who wrote The Acts of the Apostles.

Under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, apostles such

as Paul, Peter, James and Jude, wrote a variety of letters so

that remote communities of believers, as well as

generations yet to come, would walk in the path of

righteousness. God’s Spirit also led the aging apostle John

to set down on paper the Revelation he had seen of the

end of the world. All these writings are found in today’s

Injil (the New Testament).

The apostles then trained the 1st century leaders (such

as Clement), whose own writings are still extant. It is

obvious that by the end of the 1st century “Matthew,”

“Mark,” “Luke” and “John” had been assembled into a

single book, and “The Acts of the Apostles” and Paul’s 13

letters had likewise been collected.

The vast majority of

early believers immediately accepted the authority and

uniqueness of these writings. The other portions of the

Injil were accepted a short time later. Several smaller 1st

century sects only accepted Matthew and Luke. But no one

in the 1st century ever attempted to substitute any other

“injil” for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Anyone

attempting such athing would immediately been

condemned by one of the surviving apostles.

John, the last of the apostles, died in about 100 A.D. The

1st century believers had learned about Jesus directly from

the apostles (eyewitnesses). Second century believers,

however, were only able to learn about Jesus through the

writings the apostles had left. None of them had seen

Jesus with their own eyes. In time they became curious

about those areas of Jesus’ life left untouched in the four

original accounts — for example, the childhood days of

Jesus and his mother, the Virgin Mary.

During the 2nd century, several enterprising individuals,

desirous of doing away with such “deficiencies”, authored

various works under the title “injil.” Many of these works,

usually attributed to one of the apostles or to one of the

1st century believers, are still extant. Although the

information in these works usually accords with the basic

New Testament teachings, they do sometimes reflect the

prejudices of certain well-known sects (e.g. strong

opposition to marriage). In spite of this, some of Jesus’

original sayings may be preserved in these works. But no

one can be certain because all these works were written

long after the time of Jesus. Above all, many of the tales

related in these works are infantile and devoid of reality.

Other “injils” of the 2nd century were written to “shed

light” on those places in the four original accounts which

believers decided needed further explanation, or which

were the subject of disagreement. One such “injil” is the

Gospel of Thomas, a collection of supposed sayings of the

Lord Jesus. This work, which has been translated into and

published in Turkish, while not contrary to the teachings

of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, nevertheless cannot be

considered in any way superior to them. In fact, like

other so-called “injils” of the 2nd century, it is in no way

the equal of the original accounts, because it was penned

by someone living long after the time of Jesus, someone

who never knew him personally.

None of these spurious works (including the Gospel of

Thomas) ever won popular support on the scale of

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Most 2nd century

believers knew that these works were not really the

product of the apostles. From the day they were founded,

most fellowships of believers kept a list of those books

which had the stamp of apostolic approval. Books not on

the list were viewed with great suspicion.

It is for these reasons that some parts of today’s Injil

(New Testament) were unable to win immediate

acceptance by the entire 1st century church (Hebrews,

Second Peter, Second and Third John, Jude, and the

Revelation). These portions of the Injil circulated only

within a narrow circle, and were not as well known as the

other parts. After long and careful investigation, however,

the value of these disputed portions too was proven, and

they were unanimously approved for inclusion in the Injil.

Fraudulent works such as the Gospel of Thomas had no

chance of winning widespread acceptance because their

names were not found on the book list of any group of

believers.

Here let us pause to make one point perfectly clear: at no

time did the number of fraudulent injils of the 2nd century

or later ever reach 396. Twenty or so would have been the

absolute maximum .

[17] In the New Bible Dictionary, London, Inter-Varsity Press, pages 879-884, the names of only ten fraudulent injils are mentioned.

In the 2nd century, biographies were also written of

several of the apostles. Though these are not considered very

reliable, they almost certainly do preserve some factual

information. Various letters (epistles), too, were made up in the

name of this or that apostle, and a number of works drawing

their inspiration from the Revelation of St. John were produced [18].

None of these proved able to win acceptance in Christian circles.

Believers were too well aware of the superiority of the original

Injil, written, as it was, before any of these other works. Nothing

remotely resembling a campaign to eradicate writings outside

today’s Injil ever took place. But neither was much effort

expended to keep in circulation these fraudulent literary efforts which, when placed side-by-side with the real Injil, were so obviously inferior. These secondary works were never considered true “injils” in any sense of the word.

 

[18] In the Qur’an itself too, there were those who wished to add sura-s

such as “Sura en-Nureyn,” considered by most Muslims to be a forgery.

In the same way that they (the forgers) were unsuccessful in doing this,

those who wished to add to the Injil were also unsuccessful. For it is

just as the Qur’an says, “The words of Allah cannot be changed” (See

Sura 6:34,115; 10:65; 18:26).

 

 

Dr. Başaran, however, in the journal “Toward the Truth”, shows

that he does not understand several key historical facts. He says:

Those banned injils were (from the 5th century

onward) confiscated with increasing alacrity. A

portion of them was destroyed by a populace

terrified by the heavy penalties. But about this

same time, a devout priest, in a bold and risky

move, succeeded in stealing a single copy of the

Gospel of Barnabas. This injil later found its way

to the Imperial Library in Vienna, where it was

translated into English.

Obviously, in the preceding paragraphs, Dr. Basharan has

forgotten several facts:

1) In the 5th century, no literary work could have been

confiscated “with great alacrity,” [19] simply because Christian

believers and churches existed everywhere from Ireland to India,

from Germany to Ethiopia. Communications and transportation

were so difficult in those days that, even if all these countries

had been under a unified rulership, confiscation of a single work

— let alone copies of 396 separate works — would have been

virtually impossible. To make matters worse, by the 5th century

Christians had split into dozens of quarreling, competing sects.

No one sect could have prevented members of a rival sect from

reading any banned writing.

[19] Nor could they be confiscated in our day.

2) Between the 1st and 4th centuries, various Roman

emperors carried out fierce persecutions against the followers of

Jesus. The penalty for anyone caught reading the Injil (the same

Injil used by Christians today) was death. Even the threat of

death, however, failed to prevent these early Christians from

reading the Injil in secret, because no sooner did persecution lift

than thousands of copies of the Injil instantly reappeared.

3) From the 7th century onward, half the Mediterranean

world was under Muslim domination. Thousands of Christians

lived in this region. Their Muslim rulers would never have

exposed them to the predations of a foreign religious leader such

as the Pope. Up until the 11th century, the pope was able only

with great difficulty to subject even Europe to his authority. The

truth is, no pope or any other religious leader has ever been in a

position to threaten all Christians everywhere. And they have

never been able at any time to prevent the reading of any

forbidden book.

4) The pope was able only from the 11th century onward

to persecute Western Europe. And even then, it was not those

 

who read fraudulent injils who were punished, but those who

read the true Injil (the one used by today’s Christians) and sought

to bring the Roman Catholic church back to Biblical standards.

5) The “devout priest” mentioned by Dr. Başaran was

most probably “Fra Marino.” We’ve already shown that the tale

told by Fra Marino was only a fabrication [20]. Moreover, “Fra

Marino” lived in the 16th century, not in the 5th century when

injils were supposedly being gathered up “with great alacrity”.

[20] See footnote [9] in chapter 2, section a.

6) When the Gospel of Barnabas first appeared in

1709, not one church forbade the reading of it. Scholars

such as John Toland, George Sale and LaMonnoye freely

published their scholarly articles about it. And why did

Prince Eugene of Austria, a devout Roman Catholic, not

seize the opportunity to destroy the lone surviving copy he

managed to obtain in 1713? Why has that same copy been

so carefully protected and preserved all these years in the

same royal library?

7) The English translation of the Gospel of Barnabas was

published in 1907(!), nearly 200 years after the original came to

light. This translation is sold everywhere and has never been

banned by any church. Quite the opposite, the intent of

Christians who made the original translation into English was to

prove that the Gospel of Barnabas was a fraud.

 

Dr. Başaran, apparently ignorant of these facts, continues

his story:

But the Church once again found the trail

of the Gospel of Barnabas. Within one

week(!) every (English?) manuscript of the

Gospel of Barnabas was confiscated to be

destroyed. All the efforts of the Church,

however, were for naught, because while

these Gospels were being destroyed, two

copies were again spirited away. One of

these was sent to the British Museum, the

other to the Library of Congress in the

United States. For some reason or other,

when they arrived they were kept from the

public, safeguarded like some great military

secret. A Muslim general, however, was

destined to play a part in bring this secret

to light. Pakistani General Abdurrahim,

serving as a military attache in the U.S.,

succeeded in microfilming this gospel and

smuggling it out to Pakistan.

This hair-raising adventure tale has no basis whatsoever

in fact. Dr. Başaran’s story ignores certain important

factors:

 

1) The political influence of the 20th century

church is very limited. In the West, Christianity has many

powerful and vicious enemies, such as the English atheist philosopher

Bertrand Russell (d. 1970). Were the Church

even to attempt to suppress publication of the Gospel of

Barnabas (or any other literary work), the press and other

public news media would immediately set up a howl of

protest.

2) No campaign has ever been mounted to destroy

copies of the Gospel of Barnabas. A diglott edition of

Barnabas, which included the Italian original side-by-side

with its English translation, was published by a Christian

couple, Lonsdale and Laura Ragg, and sold around the

world. All major Western libraries (not merely the British

Museum and the American Library of Congress) possess

copies of the Ragg translation.

3) The Gospel of Barnabas has never been “guarded

like a military secret”. The author of the booklet you now

hold in your hands has personally visited the world famous

Bodleian Library at England’s Oxford University to

gather information on the Gospel of Barnabas. The library

is open to the public, and by paying a token fee of a few

British pounds anyone may become a member of the

library. In the Bodleian can be found a copy of nearly every

 

book written to this day. If you wait an hour or two, the

librarians will enter the book storage areas underground

and bring up whatever work you wish to see.

When I

asked to see the Gospel of Barnabas, no one protested,

“This book is forbidden, you can’t read it!” With my own

eyes, I personally examined not only the 1907 edition, but

even the editions that were produced in the 19th and 18th

centuries. The card catalog shows that all these editions

have been in the library from the time they were first

produced. For 200 years, anyone who wished to do so has

been able to examine the Gospel of Barnabas. Nor is there

any need to secretly microfilm the book. The Bodleian’s

top-quality photocopy service staff will — for a

ridiculously low fee, which in 1983 was only 10 cents per

double page — copy any book in their possession.

In summary, whatever copy of the Gospel of Barnabas

came into the possession of “General Abdurrahim” and the

Begum Aisha Bawany Foundation in 1973, it was never, at

any time, hidden away “like a military secret.” What they

obtained was nothing more than a copy of the same

edition that the Raggs had freely published and

distributed in 1907.

Moreover, by re-publishing the Ragg

edition without obtaining permission from the original

publisher, the Bawany Foundation has violated

international copyright laws. It has even had the audacity

to reproduce the very same photograph found in the

foreward of the Ragg edition, and then claimed that the

photograph was a microfilm. The Ragg’s original foreword

and their footnotes and index, however, have been

intentionally omitted. This is most interesting and

thought-provoking. It is obvious that the only reason for

doing this is to deceive Muslim readers, and keep them ignorant

of the fraudulent nature of the Gospel of Barnabas.

Several translations (especially one in Arabic) have been

made that attempt to cover up the contradictions in the

Gospel of Barnabas. For example, according to the Gospel

of Barnabas chapter 3, Jesus was born in a shepherd’s

brush arbor, while according to chapter 7 he was born in

a han (a camel caravansaray). The Arabic translation,

however, uses the same word for both places.

According to Barnabas chapters 12 and 127, Jesus

climbed the tower (Italian pinacholo) of the

temple to preach. (Barnabas didn’t know the meaning of

the word pinacholo.) In order to cover up this ridiculous

mistake, the Arabic translation uses dikka (the kürsü or

pulpit from which an imam preaches) in place of kule

(tower).

According to Barnabas, Jesus went to Nazareth and to

Jerusalem by boat. In the Arabic translation, however, the

words “by boat” are skipped over. The intent of the

creators of this [Arabic] translation is, without doubt,

to distort the meaning of the original, and thus prevent

Muslims from seeing the contradictions in the Gospel of

Barnabas. This conduct speaks well of no one, and

deserves to be severely condemned.

Why is it that so many Muslims, without ever having

investigated for themselves, enthusiastically embrace the

Gospel of Barnabas? Dr. Başaran himself gives the answer:

“Because this injil [the Gospel of Barnabas]

prophesies far in advance the good news of

the coming of the Prophet Muhammed

(May His Name be Praised), our Master,

and proclaims that all creation was brought

into being by the mere utterance of his

blessed name.”

This last statement should cause us to ask: Is it

permitted to use a patently fraudulent work to

“prove” the validity of my religion? Does the mere fact that

this or that work apparently supports the correctness of

my own religion constitute sufficient proof of that book’s

own truthfulness?

Today, if I were to author a new injil, would you accept it

merely because it “proves” Islam to be correct? Why do

 

some people insist on using a patently fraudulent

work? Are they afraid that Islam will collapse without the

support of the Gospel of Barnabas? Let us all recognize

that shutting one’s eyes to an obvious deception brings no

honor to any religion or individual.

 

SUMMARY

The Gospel of Barnabas was not written during the time of the

apostles, nor even during the early centuries of the Christian era.

Those who know better but still defend the opposite are like

those who proclaim that the world is flat instead of round.

Who wrote the Gospel of Barnabas? Where? When? Though

this question cannot be answered with 100% certainty, we can,

as we’ve already proved, come very close to the absolute truth.

The Gospel of Barnabas, beyond any doubt whatsoever, was

written during the Middle Ages, sometime around the 14th to

16th centuries (most probably in 1585) in Italy or Spain, but

certainly not in the Palestine of the 1st century apostles. And,

finally, even though we may not know the name of the fraud who

is responsible for the Gospel of Barnabas, we know enough

about him to sketch a very accurate portrait:

1) This forger was very well acquainted with the

Christian religion and the Injil in use by the Christian world, and

well read in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The

events, conversations and miracles of Jesus’ life, from his birth to

the conclusion of his earthly ministry had been recorded in

orderly fashion. Most of the time, the author summarizes and

copies portions of Matthew and Luke, and alters them by making

whatever additions or deletions he sees fit.

2) The author knows the Injil far better than the

Qur’an. The raison d’etre of the Gospel of Barnabas is to exalt

Islam by casting aspersions on Christianity, a bias that one

senses throughout the work. The book is, however, the product

not of one who knows the Qur’an well, but of one who has gained

most of his knowledge of Islam through casual conversations

with others. The Islam he knows is the Islam of later

commentators, the Islam of the traditions (hadith) produced

centuries after the Flight (Hijra) of Muhammed. When treating

subjects on which the Qur’an does not give complete

information [21], Barnabas follows interpretations produced much

later than the Qur’an, rather than following the Qur’an itself.

[21] For example, as we saw earlier, the promise that God gave to Abraham’s son.

Everyone who is truly open-minded must conclude that

the author of the Gospel of Barnabas lived in the Middle

Ages, was converted from Christianity to Islam [22], and

wanted to glorify Islam by inflicting damage on

Christianity. Very likely he had been a monk (perhaps “Fra

Marino”). He possessed an excellent grasp of the Psalms,

quoting from them frequently. History tells us that those

monks who were part of monastic orders spent a major

portion of their day chanting selections from the Psalms.

 

[22] In other words, a Muslim who was living in Christian society and

kept his beliefs secret because of the persecution by the Roman

Catholic Church.

 

Regretfully, we must also accept that the author of the

Gospel of Barnabas, as a direct consequence of his

excessive zeal for Islam, undertook to alter and distort

God’s Holy Word. The great sins of tahrif and tabdil [23]

which Muslims rightly condemn — were as nothing to

him. That the person who committed these sins was a

Muslim is a sad fact.

[23] Tahrif: to deliberately change the original of a work. Tabdil[*To substitute for an original work another work bearing the same title.

We are not, however, accusing all our Muslim brothers

of involvement in the guilt of whoever forged the Gospel of

Barnabas. Nor do we wish to do so. We can also accept

that Muslims who have been deceived by forgers (for

example, members of the Bequm Aisha Bawany

Foundation), and who have learned secondhand

everything they know and then innocently accepted it

(such as Dr Başaran) may have used this fraudulent work

in the service of Islam with good intentions. The person,

however, who, in the face of all the evidence, says: “The

Gospel of Barnabas is genuine; it is higher and more

trustworthy than the Tevrat and Injil” must himself be

considered as guilty before God as the one who forged it in

the first place.

 

 

A few honest Muslim scholars have openly accepted

that the Gospel of Barnabas is a forgery. Dr. Gulam Jilani

Bark, a Pakistani, in the magazine “Al-Furkan” (Lucknow,

India: August ’75, p.48) writes:

Christians have rejected any idea that the

Gospel of Barnabas, as we presently possess

it, is genuine. In view of this, the assertion

that this book is authentic can only be

proven when a copy written before the time

of Muhammed is brought to light. Until

now, however, this has not happened [24].

[24] Other Muslim scholars, too, have accepted that the Gospel of Barnabas is a forgery: Abbas Mahmud el-Akkad (“News Bulletin of the Near East Christian Council,” Easter 1961, pp 9-11); Süleyman Şahid (Islamic periodical “Impact,” London, 1 January 1974); Prof. E.R. Hambye (“Islam and the Modern Age,” New Delhi, India, May 1975); Prof. Mahammed Yahya el-Hashimî (“Etudes Arabes,” no. 48).

We would recommend that those of our readers who can

read the Gospel of Barnabas in the original Italian, or its

English translation, carefully study that work and

objectively weigh the facts. It is our hope, first of all, that

our readers eventually will examine the true Injil — the

one accepted by Christians everywhere and attested to by

the Qur’an — and, secondly, that they will discover the

“divine light and True Faith” [25] in the Injil.

 

 

 

 

[25] Qur’an, Sura 5:46-47.

May Allah purify us all from error and grant us an open

mind toward this True Injil.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kur’an-ı Kerim ve Meal-i Alisi, A. Fikri Yavuz, Sönmez

Yayınevi, Istanbul, Turkey

Kitab-i Mukaddes (Tevrat, Zebur ve Incil-i Şerif), Kitab-ı

Mukaddes Şirketi, P.K. 186, Merkez, Istanbul.

The Gospel of Barnabas: An Essay and Inquiry, Selim

Abdul-Ahad and W. H. T. Gairdner, Henry Martyn

Institute of Islamic Studies, P.O. Box 153, Hyderabad,

India. (1975).

MIDEO (Melanges Institut Dominicain d’Etudes Orientales

du Caire), Vol 6, 1959-61, (L’Evangile selon Barnabe), Fr.

Dr. J. Jomier.

Havl ül-Incil ve Incil Barnabas, Elias Zehlevi, Paulist Press,

Lebanon (1971).

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, A. Roberts and J. Donaldson, Vol

8, pp 355, 493-6. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, (1951).

The Gospel of Barnabas, Laura and Lonsdale Ragg, Oxford:

Clarendon Press, (1907).

 

Interpreting the New Testament, A.M. Hunter, chapter

6, London: S.C.M. Press, (1951).

Jewish Christianity: Factional Disputes in the Early

Church, Hans-Joachim Schoeps, Philadelphia: Fortress

Press, (1969).

Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, W.D. Davies, London: S.P.C.K.

(1970)

Paul and Jesus, H.N. Ridderbos, Philadelphia: Reformed

and Presbyterian Publ, (1958).

St. James in Spain, T.D. Kendrick, chapter 5, London:

Methuen, (1960).

Islam unter der Inquisition: Die Morisco-Prozesse in

Toledo (1575-1610), Peter Dressendoerfer, Wiesbaden:

Steiner, (1971).

Sobre un Posible Autor Espanol Del Evangelio de Barnabe,

M. de Epalza, vol 28, pp 479-91, Andalus, Madrid, (1963).

Pseudo-Barnabas in the Context of Muslim-Christian

Apologetics, J. Slomp, Christian Study Centre, Series No. 9,

Rawalpindi, (1974).

 

Three Forgeries, Norman Cohn, “Encounter”, vol 44,

No. 1, pp 11-26, (1975).

The Qur’an: An English Translation by George Sale

Mizan ul-Hak (The Balance of Truth), C.G. Pfander, D.D.,

London: The Religious Tract Society, (1910).


The Gospel of Barnabas? A Scholarly Investigation

During the 1st century, the Christian community went through a time of rapid expansion, collection of first person accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and, before the apostles themselves passed from the scene, committing those accounts to what was called "gospels" (the "good news" of what Jesus' life, death, and resurrection meant). The quality of those gospels varied. Some -such as Matthew and John- were written by the apostles themselves. Others -the Gospel of Thomas, for example- possibly contain a small amount of genuine material. And others were out and out fraudulent works, created to "sell" a theological position (Gnosticism, for example) that were 180 degrees at variance with Christ's teachings, or (like stories of the Christ Child making clay birds fly) attempts to "fill in the blanks" of his childhood and youth. The Church went through a winnowing process, separating the factual and spiritual from the fanciful and fraudulent. Surprisingly, though, the Gospel of Barnabas was not one of those gospels. The early Church seems totally unaware that Barnabas -a close associate of the Apostle Paul for many years- even wrote one. And for very good reason. Because the Gospel of Barnabas was written hundreds of years after (!) the eye-witnesses and apostles had all passed from the scene. So where did the Gospel of Barnabas come from? Who wrote it? When? and, most important, why was it written? Kerem Özyazıcıgil -the Turkish pen name of a British-born, Oxford-educated expert on Islam– answers those questions. He has looked at the Gospel of Barnabas inside and out, and through the eyes of the best scholars -Christian and Muslim- to understand it. The truth lies at the intersection between the Christian and Muslim worlds at the time of the infamous Spanish Inquisition. It's a mystery in monks' robes, wrapped in a startling spiritual conversion!!

  • Author: Küresel Üniversite
  • Published: 2016-09-01 04:20:14
  • Words: 17981
The Gospel of Barnabas? A Scholarly Investigation The Gospel of Barnabas? A Scholarly Investigation