THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS:
A Scholarly Investigation
Kerem Özyazıcıgil (1985)
English translation by Doug Clark (2014)
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
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 … . Text …
 Inline note at end of paragraph.
Text continues …
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
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 .
 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
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
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
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
The purpose of the booklet you are now reading is to put
the Gospel of Barnabas “under a microscope” . Our
examination will tend to focus on two questions: Who
wrote the Gospel of Barnabas, and when was it written?
 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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!  ‘
 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
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
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
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).
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.
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
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) .
In chapter 119 of the Gospel of Barnabas, these words
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
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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] 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
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
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
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)
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
As they [the righteous] pass through the
valley of Baca, they make it a place of
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
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
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
Mine eye is a thief that robbeth my soul.
Vulgate (Latin), Lamentations of Jeremiah 3:51
Oculus meus depraedatus est animam me
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
Barnabas again shows that he is merely quoting from the
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
 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
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has
conceived what God has prepared for those who
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
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
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. 
 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
Yet ye will not, unless Allah willeth! Lo!
Allah is Knower, Wise.
The asceticism which Barnabas praises is also totally at
variance with 1st century thought. In chapter 91,
Apresso alia quadrigessima tutta la iudea
hera in arma.
…nigh upon the Forty days all Judea was up
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The virgin…brought forth her son without
According to the Qur’an, however, (Sura 19:23); Mary
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.
 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
…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
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
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
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.
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
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”.
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 .
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
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.
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 .
 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
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
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
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
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 .
 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.
example, the title of chapter 25 (Sura Zabt ul-nafs) reads
سورة ألزبطل ألنفس
But, as anyone who reads Arabic knows, it should have
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
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) , 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 
and began to teach the Jews.”
 This work too was not really written by Barnabas.
 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
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
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 . 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.
 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
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
disagreement broke out between Paul and Barnabas (Acts
15:36-39). But this disagreement was in no sense a
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 .
 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.
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
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 , 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.
 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.
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
(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
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
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
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
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  of Islam developed.
 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
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
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 .
 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 .
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.
 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,”  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.
 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
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 . Moreover, “Fra
Marino” lived in the 16th century, not in the 5th century when
injils were supposedly being gathered up “with great alacrity”.
 See footnote  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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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 , Barnabas follows interpretations produced much
later than the Qur’an, rather than following the Qur’an itself.
 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 , 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.
 In other words, a Muslim who was living in Christian society and
kept his beliefs secret because of the persecution by the Roman
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  —
which Muslims rightly condemn — were as nothing to
him. That the person who committed these sins was a
Muslim is a sad fact.
 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
now, however, this has not happened .
 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”  in the Injil.
 Qur’an, Sura 5:46-47.
May Allah purify us all from error and grant us an open
mind toward this True Injil.
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,
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,
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
Paul and Rabbinic Judaism, W.D. Davies, London: S.P.C.K.
Paul and Jesus, H.N. Ridderbos, Philadelphia: Reformed
and Presbyterian Publ, (1958).
St. James in Spain, T.D. Kendrick, chapter 5, London:
Islam unter der Inquisition: Die Morisco-Prozesse in
Toledo (1575-1610), Peter Dressendoerfer, Wiesbaden:
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,
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).
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!!