How authentic the gospel of Barnabas is
The "Gospel of Barnabas"
Why the so-called "Gospel of Barnabas" is a fake
and no document from the 1st century
Muslims consider the four canonical gospels to be a forgery. Instead, they consider the so-called "Gospel of Barnabas" to be authentic. Islam regards it as the message that Jesus - one of the prophets - is said to have received from God in order to preach it to the people.
The "Gospel of Barnabas" ...
- ... pretends to have been written by the apostle Barnabas.
- ... supposedly comes from the 1st century.
- ... claims to be the only true gospel.
- ... contains prophecies about the coming of the Messiah and about Mohammed.
- ... is an attack against the apostle Paul and his teaching.
- ... turns against the divinity of Jesus Christ and denies his crucifixion.
The original of the book is written in Italian.
It was translated into English in 1973 by Lonsdale and Laura Ragg and reprinted by the "Begum Aisha Bawany Wakf" from Pakistan.
- The first German translation appeared in 1994.
- The title of the German edition is: "The Gospel of Barnabas. True gospel of Jesus, called Christ, a new prophet from God, sent to the world according to the record of Barnabas, his apostle."
- The German edition gives the impression that an original source of early Christianity has finally reappeared after many centuries.
The book has found widespread use in Islam.
Much evidence against the Bible comes from him.
Muslims firmly believe that Christianity is holding back this gospel.
Muslims have been convinced that this book contains the ultimate truth about the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
Towards the end of the 5th century Pope Gelasius I mentions a "Gospel of Barnabas": Christians should not read it because it is heretical. The book is of Gnostic origin.
However, this gospel has nothing to do with the "Barnabas gospel", which the Muslims cherish.
In the 18th century a copy of another "Gospel of Barnabas" was found. It's written in Italian.
This "Gospel of Barnabas" refers, among other things, to the Koran: It contains quotations from the Koran and also sayings by Dante Alighieri (13th century)
In 1874 it was mentioned that there was also a Spanish translation.
However, an Arabic original was never mentioned or seen.
Dating the "Gospel of Barnabas"
The "Gospel of Barnabas" probably dates from the 14th century. It mentions the Jubilee year, which is celebrated every 100 years. However, this can only have been true at the time of Pope Boniface VIII, because he had stipulated that the Jobel year was to be celebrated every 100 years. After his death in 1343 this decree was reversed: The Jobel year was to be celebrated every 50 years - as in biblical times.
The author of the "Gospel of Barnabas"
It is striking how often the Vulgate is quoted.
Presumably the "Gospel of Barnabas" was written by an author with a Spanish background.
Perhaps it came from a former Spanish Christian who converted to Islam.
Why the "Gospel of Barnabas" is a fake.
Although the "Gospel of Barnabas" states that it was written by the Apostle Barnabas, it cannot be the Barnabas from the New Testament. This is made clear, for example, by the following facts:
- The "Gospel of Barnabas" considers circumcision to be necessary for salvation. (Barnabas 2)
- The biblical Barnabas never taught this.
- The "Barnabas Gospel" polemicizes against the gospel that Paul preaches.
- The biblical Barnabas was a loyal collaborator with Paul who preached the same gospel with him. The New Testament does not recognize theological tensions between these two apostles.
- The "Gospel of Barnabas" denies that Jesus is the Messiah. At the same time it calls him the Christ. Yet Christ is the Greek name for the Messiah. The Greek-speaking Barnabas of the New Testament would not have afforded this contradiction.
The so-called "Gospel of Barnabas" is a fake from the Middle Ages. Here is a summary of the most important arguments against its authenticity:
- There is no text transmission of the "Gospel of Barnabas" before the 16th century.
- In contrast to the canonical texts, there is no evidence of a quotation from a Christian church father or church teacher.
- It is also not mentioned by any Islamic author before the 16th century.
- There are historical and geographical errors in the "Gospel of Barnabas".
- There are contradictions to early non-Christian sources in the "Gospel of Barnabas".
Here are a few main points of criticism against the authenticity of the "Barnabas Gospel", which Dr. Schirrmacher (The Gospel of Barnabas) mentions:
The "Gospel of Barnabas" itself indicates that the original gospel has been falsified. If Barnabas had actually been a contemporary of Jesus, the New Testament would not have been concluded at all. With that, the "Gospel of Barnabas" would have predicted its own fate.
In addition, the author of the "Gospel of Barnabas" makes it clear through geographical and historical mistakes that he could neither have visited Palestine nor lived in the first century AD:
Geographical and historical mistakes:
- In the "Gospel of Barnabas" Nazareth is a place on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth, however, is on a hill. (Barnabas 20)
- According to the report of the "Gospel of Barnabas", Jesus ascends from the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. However, Capernaum is right on the Sea of Galilee.
- The "Gospel of Barnabas" reports that Jesus got into a ship and sailed to Jerusalem. However, Jerusalem is inland and cannot be reached by ship.
- According to the description of the "Gospel of Barnabas", Nineveh is near the Mediterranean coast. However, it is located on the Tigris inland. (Barnabas 63)
- The dates of the birth of Jesus in the "Gospel of Barnabas" do not correspond to the historical tradition in relation to the terms of office of Herod, Pilate, Ananias and Caiaphas. (Barnabas 3)
- The "Gospel of Barnabas" reports about 600,000 Roman soldiers in Palestine. In the first century AD, however, there were so many soldiers possibly only in the entire Roman Empire, but by no means in Palestine.
- The "Gospel of Barnabas" reports on 17,000 Pharisees at the time of the prophet Elijah, in the 8th century BC. However, the party of the Pharisees did not emerge until the second century BC. (Barnabas 145)
- The "Gospel of Barnabas" describes a European summer: "Everything bears fruit". In Palestine, however, it rains in winter and in summer the land is dry.
- The "Gospel of Barnabas" claims that at the time of Jesus the Romans left the province of Judea forever. The Romans (Byzantines) were only expelled from the Levant by Islam in the 7th century. (Barnabas 152)
Literature and sources
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Copyright (C) 2005 by EFG Berlin Hohenstaufenstrasse. All rights reserved.
This paper is intended for personal use only.
Posted on March 21, 2005; last change: 16.08.2016
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