Barnabas– Disciple of Jesus & Role:
Barnabas was born in a Jewish family from the tribe of Levi, settled in Cyprus. His actual name was Joses (Joseph). He sold his possessions and land (Acts;4:36-37), and placed the money at the disposal of apostles. His personal appearance is supposed to have been dignified and commanding (Acts;14:11-12). Due to his devotion to the cause of Jesus, the other apostles had given him the surname of Barnabas; this term is variously translated as “Son of Consolation” or “Son of Exhortation”.
He was a successful preacher with a magnetic personality. Any one tormented by the clash of creeds found solace and peace in his company. His eminence as a man who had been close to Jesus Christ had made him a prominent member of the small group of disciples in Jerusalem who had gathered together after the disappearance of Jesus. They observed the Law of the Prophets, which Jesus had come, “not to destroy but, to fulfill” (Matthew;5:17). When Paul returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas took him and introduced him to the apostles (Acts;9:27). They had probably been companions as students in the school of Gamaliel. However later they got separated due to doctrinal differences. The followers of Paul no more wrote about him.
Barnabas Mentioned in The New Testament:
Barnabas is mentioned with great respect in New Testament, as evident from following:
- “And Joseph, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, the son of encouragement) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,”(Acts;4:36).
- “And Saul (Paul), having come to Jerusalem, did try to join himself to the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he is a disciple, and Barnabas having taken him, brought him unto the apostles,” (Acts;9:26-27)
- “… Barnabas, touching whom ye received commandments; if he comes unto you, receive him.” (Colossians;4:10). Here Paul refers to commandments of Jesus Christ.
- “And when James, Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go lo the heathen and they unto the circumcision.” (Galatians;2:9).
- “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cling unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith: and many people were added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, to seek Saul (Paul): And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that for a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught many people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great famine throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren who dwelt in Judea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.”(Acts;11:22-30 )
- “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.”(Acts;12:25).
- “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them”.(Acts;13:1-2 )
- “And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercury, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, being before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they tore their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that you should turn from these vanities unto the living God, who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them:”(Acts;14:11-15)
The Gospel of Jesus- Short History:
After departure of Jesus Christ the rivalry between the various factions of followers of Jesus (called as Christians) continued for centuries and resulted in great loss of lives. In 325 C.E the followers of Paul gained control at the council of Nicea and immediately ordered great changes. They canonized the four Greek Gospels. The only Gospel written in Aramaic, the language that Prophet Jesus spoke, was destroyed.
The council of Nicea established ‘Trinity’ as the cardinal doctrine of Christianity. The council also changed the birthday of Prophet Jesus to 25 December to match the birthday of Sun-God Mithras, and shifted the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Most of the Bible experts of today agree that the true identities of the authors of the four canonized Gospels are not known. These Gospels were written by followers of Paul and names of famous people were put as authors to give credit and authenticity to these Gospels. Barnabas being a loyal and sincere disciple of Prophet Jesus wrote the ‘Gospel of Jesus Christ’ to counter the negative effects of wrong teachings and doctrines of Paul. In the ‘Opening’, Barnabas writes:-
True Gospel of Jesus, called Christ, a new prophet sent by God to the world: according to the description of Barnabas his apostle.
“Barnabas, apostle of Jesus the Nazarene, called Christ, to all them that dwell upon the earth desireth peace and consolation. Dearly beloved the great and wonderful God hath during these past days visited us by his prophet Jesus Christ in great mercy of teaching and miracles, by reason whereof many, being deceived of Satan, under presence of piety, are preaching most impious doctrine, calling Jesus son of God, repudiating the circumcision ordained of God for ever, and permitting every unclean meat: among whom also Paul hath been deceived, whereof I speak not without grief; for which cause I am writing that truth which I have seen and heard, in the intercourse that I have had with Jesus, in order that ye may be saved, and not be deceived of Satan and perish in the judgment of God. Therefore beware of every one that preacheth unto you new doctrine contrary to that which I write, that ye may be saved eternally. The great God be with you and guard you from Satan and from every evil. Amen”.
The Gospel of Jesus’ according to Barnabas, though banned by the Paulian Christians (Trinitarians) since 325 C.E, still survives and is considered by the scholars and historians as the most authentic Gospel available today. [The references form the Gospel according to Barnabas are being mentioned here just for the information of reader to arrive at their own unbiased judgment. However the pragmatic discussion on doctrines of Christianity in this book are primarily based upon the canonized Bible].It contains most of the teachings of Jesus Christ. The brief history of survival of ‘Gospel of Barnabas’ is enumerated below:-
- The ‘Gospel of Jesus According to Barnabas’ was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria till 325 C.E.
- Iranaeus (130-200 C.E.) wrote in support of pure monotheism and opposed Paul for injecting into Christianity doctrines of the pagan Roman religion and Platonic philosophy. He had quoted extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas in support of his views. This shows that the Gospel of Barnabas was in circulation in the first and second centuries of Christianity.
- In 325 C.E, the Nicene Council was held, where it was ordered that all original Gospels in Hebrew script should be destroyed. An Edict was issued that anyone in possession of these Gospels will be put to death.
- In 383 C.E, the Pope secured a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas and kept it in his private library.
- In the fourth year of Emperor Zeno (478 C.E.), the remains of Barnabas were discovered and his own hand written copy of the Gospel of Barnabas was found on his breast. (Acia Sanctorum Boland Junii Tom II, Pages 422 and 450. Antwerp 1698). The famous ‘Vulgate Bible’ appears to be based on this Gospel.
- Pope Sixtus (1585-90 C.E) had a friend, Fra Marino. He found the Gospel of Barnabas in the private library of the Pope. Fra Marino was interested because he had read the writings of Iranaeus where Barnabas had been profusely quoted. The Italian manuscript passed through different hands till it reached “a person of great name and authority” in Amsterdam, “who during his life time was often heard to put a high value to this piece”. After his death it came in the possession of J. E. Cramer, a Councillor of the King of Prussia.
- In 1713 C.E Cramer presented this manuscript to the famous connoisseur of books, Prince Eugene of Savoy. In 1738 C.E along with the library of the Prince it found its way into Hofbibliothek in Vienna. There it now rests.
- Toland, in his “Miscellaneous Works” (published posthumously in 1747 C.E), in Vol. I, page 380, mention that the Gospel of Barnabas was still extant. In Chapter XV he refers to the Glasian Decree of 496 C.E where “Evangelium Barnabe” is included in the list of forbidden books. Prior to that it had been forbidden by Pope Innocent in 465 C.E and by the Decree of the Western Churches in 382 C.E.
- Barnabas is also mentioned in the Stichometry of Nice-phorus Serial No. 3, Epistle of Barnabas . . . Lines 1, 300. Then again in the list of Sixty Books Serial No. 17: Travels and teaching of the Apostles, Serial No. 18: Epistle of Barnabas, Serial No. 24: Gospel According to Barnabas.
- 10. A Greek version of the Gospel of Barnabas is also found in a solitary fragment. The rest is burnt.
- 11. The Latin text was translated into English by Mr. and Mrs. Ragg and was printed at the Clarendon Press in Oxford. It was published by the Oxford University Press in 1907. This English translation mysteriously disappeared from the market. Two copies of this translation are known to exist, one in the British Museum and the other in the Library of the Congress, Washington, which forms the source of most of authentic copies available in the market.
- 1. Exhort Monotheism & Differs to Qur’an:
Analysis of Criticism on ‘Gospel of Jesus’
The ‘Gospel of Jesus’ according to Barnabas contradicts the Qur’an, the allegation that a Muslim wrote it and sneaked it into the Vatican where it was found on the Pope’s book shelf, are false accusations because no Muslim would write a Gospel that contradicts the Qur’an, some are explained below:
a. It is wrong to say that most of narratives in Gospel of Jesus are exactly as mentioned in Qur’an. What appears to be similar it differs in detailed description or not mentioned in Qur’an or Hadith. For example the narrative of Abraham in childhood and his discussion with his father (Chapter:26-29) is totally new to Islam. Similarly the story of two Pharisees (Chapter:148-150) minor book of Prophet Elijah (Chapter:145), Haggai and Hosea stories (Chapter:185-188) are neither in Qur’an or Hadith but the old scriptures also are devoid of it.
b. Three concrete evidence indicate that the writer of ‘Gospel of Jesus’ was totally unaware of Qur’an. These three are the miracles of Jesus mentioned in Qur’an (Qur’an;19:30-33, 5:110) but they are neither mentioned in the four gospels nor in the ‘Gospel of Jesus’ by Barnabas. The third miracle of Jesus of having made the sun still for twelve hours (Chapter:189) is neither mentioned in Qur’an nor in four Gospels. In the Old Testament (Joshua;10:12-14) this miracle is related with Prophet Joshua. It is obvious that if the sun remained still for whole day by Jesus, it would have been well known all over the world and the destruction which would have occurred on earth would have been catastrophic. A Similar story has also been narrated about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Islamic circles, but the analytical Islamic scholars have always denied it, because Islam encourages its followers to use their reason and logic instead of believing mythological stories. Hence had the author of ‘Gospel of Jesus’ been a Muslim, he wouldn’t have written such a baseless story.
c. These three arguments are sufficient to prove that the ‘Gospel of Jesus’ according to Barnabas was not authored by any newly converted Muslim of thirteen century. It is obvious that it was written by Barnabas, the close disciple of Jesus Christ. This Gospel was very much in existence and read till 5th century C.E till Pope Gelasius I, decreed to ban its possession in 496 C.E. (obviously due to the monotheistic teaching opposed to Trinity and other doctrines based on teachings of Paul and his followers). Thus this ‘Gospel of Jesus’ was not available till end of 16th century, so for 1100 years it was not available to the world. However this absence ensured that there was no chance of corruption of script, what ever variation intentional or unintentional possibly would have occurred during first five centuries while copying and rewriting by the scribes. The above mentioned could belong to that period.
2: Jesus The Prophet of God:
The differences with Qur’anic narratives should encourage Christian theologians to validate the “Gospel of Jesus” according to Barnabas. However the Christian clergy discredit it because: The Gospel of Barnabas declares Jesus to be the Prophet of God, and not His Son as evident form following:
- “Jesus, having received this vision, and knowing that he was a prophet sent to the house of Israel, revealed to Mary his mother, telling her that he needs must suffer great persecution for the honor of God, and that he couldn’t any longer abide with her to serve her.” (Barnabas:10).
- b. In reply to a question by Philip, Prophet Jesus said: “God alone hath no equal. He hath had no beginning, nor will he ever have a end, … He hath no sons, nor brethern, nor companions.”( Barnabas:17).
- c. “And when he had said this, the crowed drew high, and when they knew him they began to cry out: ‘ Welcome to thee, O our God !’ and they began to do him reverence, as unto God. Whereupon Jesus gave a great groan and said: ‘ Get ye from before me, O mad men, for I fear lest the earth should open and devour me with you for your abominable words!’ Whereupon the people were filled with terror and began to weep.”(Barnabas:92).
d. “Then Jesus, having lifted his hand in token of silence, said: ‘ Verily ye have erred greatly, O Israelites, in calling me, a man, your God. And I fear that God may for this give heavy plague upon the holy city…..I confess before heaven, ….that I am stranger to all that ye have said; seeing that I am man, born of a mortal woman, subject to the judgment of God, suffering the miseries of eating and sleeping, of cold and heat, like other men,..Whereupon when God shall come to judge, my words like a sword shall pierce each one (of them) that believe me to be more than a man,” (Barnabas:93).
3. Jesus was not Crucified, but Raised Up:
Following explain the contradictions in the crucifiction and resurrection claims.
- “..Then God seeing danger of his servant, commanded Gabriel, Michael, Rafael and Uriel, his ministers, to take Jesus out of the world. The holy angels came and took Jesus out by the window that looketh toward the South…” (Barnabas:215).
- “Judas truly did nothing else but cry out: ‘God, why hast thou forsaken me, seeing the malefactor hath escaped and I die unjustly?’ Verily I say that the voice, the face, and the person of Judas were so alike to Jesus, that his disciples and believers entirely believed that he was Jesus; wherefore some departed from the doctrine of Jesus; believing that Jesus had been a false prophet, and that by art magic he had done the miracles which he did: for Jesus had said that he should not die till near the end of the world; for that at that time he should be taken away from the world.” (Barnabas:217)
4. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Foretold:
Similar to Old and New Testament, ‘Gospel of Jesus’ according to Branbas also foretold advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):
- “…And though I have been innocent in the world, since men have called me “God,” and “Son of God,” God, in order that I be not mocked of the demons on the day of judgment, hath willed that I be mocked of men in this world by the death of Judas, making all men to believe that I died upon the cross. And this mocking shall continue until the advent of Mohammed, the messenger of God, who, when he shall come, shall reveal this deception to those who believe in God’s law.”( Barnabas:220).
- ” …After those years shall the angel Gabriel come into hell, and shall hear them say: “O Mohammed, where are thy promises made to us, saying that those who have thy faith shall not abide in hell for evermore?” ‘Then the angel of God shall return to paradise, and having approached with reverence the messenger of God shall narrate him what he hath heard.’ ‘Then shall his messenger speak to God and say: “Lord my God, remember the promise made to me thy servant, concerning them that have received my faith, that they shall not abide for evermore in hell.” ‘God shall answer: “Ask what thou wilt, O my friend, for I will give thee all that thou askest.” (Gospel of Jesus; Chapter: 136).”….Wherefore, when the messenger of God shall come, he shall come to cleanse away all wherewith the ungodly have contaminated my book.” (Barnabas:124)
Here in this Gospel the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been mentioned by actual name ‘Muhammad’, but traditionally the prophets do not mention the exact names in their prophesies about the prophets to follow. Although in the Italian translation of ‘Gospel of Jesus’ according to Barnabas ‘Muhammad’ is written but it is not known that through how many languages this translation has ended up in Italian? Obviously the original ‘Gospel of Jesus’ would have been written Syriac, the language of Jesus Christ and his disciples. If the original text would have been available it could only be verified from there. It could only be assumed the Jesus might have used word ‘Manhamna’ [equivalent of ‘Muhammad’ in Syriac, translated in Greek as ‘Periclytos’], then different translators might have translated it in to their languages and finally some translator might have noticed that the name of prophesied prophet is synonymous with word ‘Muhammad’, hence penned it down. Therefore use of name ‘Muhammad’ in translation is not sufficient to conclude that the entire ‘Gospel of Jesus’ is a forgery by some Muslim.[Prior existence of this Gospel is proved once Pope Gelasius I, decreed to ban its possession in 496 C.E, whereas Prophet Muhammad lived much later (570-632 C.E) and preached Islam from 610-632 C.E]. In fact Qur’an uses word “Ahmad” having been prophesied as name of Prophet in Bible: “And remember when Jesus the son of Mary said: “O children of Israel! I am the Messenger of God towards you, confirming the Torah which came before me, and to give you good news of a Messenger that will come after me whose name shall be Ahmed (another name of Muhammad, meaning ‘The praised one’).” But when he (Muhammad) came to them with clear signs, they said “This is plain magic.”(Qur’an;61:6). A Muslim should have used the exact name “Ahmad” as mentioned in Qur’an, but obviously the translator does not seems to be aware of Qur’an. [Ahmed” or “Muhammad” meaning “the one who praises” or “the praised one” is almost the translation of the Greek word PERICLYTOS. In the Gospel of John;14:16, 15:26, and 16:7, Jesus (peace be upon him) actually prophesized “Ahmed” by name, word ‘Comforter’ in Greek:paraklhtoV; par-ak’-lay-tos; Paracletos, refers to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)].
It should be kept in view that the prophesies by the Prophets are based upon the knowledge (Revelations) from God, hence if God Wills to specify the name of last prophet, it can not be disputed.
5. Ishmael Offered for Sacrifice:
Following explain contradictions with Genesis:
a. “And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of.”(Genesis;22:2). It is historic fact that Ishmael was the eldest son of Abraham and Isaac was many years younger to him. Hence if any one can be called the ‘only son’ of Abraham, it was Ishmael not Isaac, which is evidently here is a later insertion.
b. ” The angel Gabriel answered: ‘ Arise Jesus, and remember Abraham, who being willing to make sacrifice to God of his only – begotten Ishmael, to fulfill the word of God, and the knife not being able to cut his son, at my word offered in sacrifice a sheep….” (Barnabas:13).
c. “Abraham loved his son Ishmael a little more than was right, wherefore God commanded, in order to kill that evil love out of the heart of Abraham, that he should slay his son: which he would have done had the knife cut. ” (Barnabas:99).
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