The Vatican is trying to get its hands on a 1500 year old Bible that is currently being held in Turkey according to media reports today. The Vatican has issued an official request to examine the 1500 year old Bible that Turkey has had in its custody for the past 12 years. This ancient Bible contains, reportedly, the early teachings of Jesus Christ written on animal hide in gold lettering. It is written in a language called “Syriac” which is a dialect of Aramaic. Aramaic was the native tongue spoke by Christ. The Bible was seized by Turkish officials from a gang of smugglers in an operation in the Mediterranean Sea 12 years ago. Turkish authorities charged the gang with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations, and possession of explosives then.
Reports out of Turkey say that the 1500 year old Bible is under tight security and it is being claimed that the Bible could be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas. This Gospel is a controversial gospel. Muslims claim that it is an additional original gospel along with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It has sometimes be called the “fourth gospel” and has been suppressed by the Church. Muslims claim that this gospel foretold of the coming of their Prophet, Mohammad. The 1500 year old Bible being held in Turkey is estimated to be worth $1.7 dollars.
The Gospel of Barnabas asserts that a man named Barnabas was a disciple of Christ and, in fact, that he was one of the 12 Apostles. Within it in some key respects it conforms to the Islamic interpretation of Christian origins and sometimes contradicts New Testament teachings. Some critics have claimed that it is a gospel that was edited to fit Islamic interpretation and to conform to Islamic teachings. Several Muslim scholars believe it to support the Islamic view of Jesus, in which, Jesus is not the son of God but is a prophet. There are also two other books using the same name. They are the Epistle of Barnabas and the Acts of Barnabas.
The Gospel of Barnabas relates the story of Christ in a very different way from the four canonical gospels. It corresponds to the traditions of Islam and the Koran. The general consensus among Christian scholars is that it is a renegade text and altered to serve the purposes of Islam. In the gospel the Holy Spirit, known as the Comforter, is replaced with the “famous” or the “illustrious.” And Muslims claim this is a reference foretelling of the coming of their founder and prophet Mohammad. Muslims also assert that Jesus foretold of Mohammad’s coming by another Islamic name and that is the name “Ahmed.” This name is derived from the root of the name Mohammad.
Christian scholars have been quick to point out that the Jesus presented in the Gospel of Barnabas differs greatly from the image presented in the canonical gospels and it also contradicts Jesus’ ministry. Yet, it shows strong parallels with Islam and Islamic belief about Jesus. The Gospel does mention a Ahmed (Mohammad) and includes the Shahadah in Chapter 39. The Shahada is the Islamic creed and Muslim declaration of belief. It is a very simple creed that says, “There is no god but Allah (God) and Mohammad is His Messenger.”
The Gospel itself is strongly and clearly anti-Pauline and anti-Trinitarian. St. Paul wrote most of the New Testament yet he was not one of the 12 Apostles and modern Christianity is, therefore, known as “Pauline Christianity.” It is anti-Trinitarian in tone because it does not support the Holy Trinity being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It presents Jesus as a prophet and not as the son of God. Paul is presented as being deceived and misled. In addition, the Gospel of Barnabas claims that Jesus escaped the Crucifixion by being ascended into Heaven while the traitor Judas Iscariot was really crucified in his place. This is very consistent with Islamic beliefs about Jesus and the Crucifixion.
To be fair, there are other passage within the Gospel of Barnabas that contradict teachings in the Koran, the Islamic scriptures. For example, in the account of the birth and nativity of Jesus, Mary his mother is said to have given birth to Jesus without pain of childbirth. In addition, the gospel claims that during his ministry Jesus permits the drinking of wine and monogamy in marriage. Further, the gospel claims that Hell is only for those who commit the seven deadly sins and for any male refusing to be circumcised. It also claims God has a soul and that there are 9 levels or realms of Heaven.
Some scholars believe that what the Gospel of Barnabas actually is is an attempt to harmonize and synthesis both Christianity and Islam and they may be right. Until recent times the gospel was mostly unknown outside of academic circles. Recently several Muslim scholars have began to publish the gospel in order to argue against the orthodox concept of Jesus as taught by mainstream Christianity today. The gospels does, in fact, resonate with Islamic teachings as a whole more than it does with current Christian teachings. The gospel also claims that Jesus’ mission was restricted to the “House of Israel” meaning the Jews.
In one part of Barnabas it has Jesus saying the words that we believe to have been spoken by John the Baptist when he met Christ. That is when John the Baptist says that he is not the messiah and that he is not worthy to clean Jesus’ feet. In Barnabas these words are attributed to Jesus speaking of Mohammad. The gospel also has Jesus saying that he is not the “Messiah” which means “anointed one” but that it is Mohammad. Ironically, Muslims do NOT believe Mohammad to be the Messiah. They believe he was a prophet, the final prophet or seal of the prophets. In the Koran, Mohammad is referred to as “the anointed one” and that is the meaning of the world “Messiah.: Any of the prophets of the Bible can be said to be anointed ones. It does not mean “savior” or “son of God” as some people today seem to think the word means.
Many in the West might be surprised by the fact that Muslims DO believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. They believe he will come to rid the world of the Antichrist in the End Days. The Islamic Mahdi will also come and Jesus will help him defeat the Antichrist in the Last Days. In one version of the Gospel of Barnabas it has Jesus claiming he is not the Messiah and that the coming Messiah will be a Ishmaelite, an Arab. It also claims that the sacrificed son of Abraham was Ishmael not Issac. Abraham ended up not killing his son as the Lord stopped him before he plunged the knife into his son laying on an altar according to the Old Testament. The Arab people trace their ancestry from Ishmael who was the firstborn son of Abraham but not related to his wife Sara. Sara could not have children at that time so she allowed Abraham to have sexual intercourse with her maidservant Hagar. Ishmael was born of Abraham and Hagar both of who were later driven off by Sara after Issac was born to them.
Some Islamic scholars like Hajj Sayed have argued that the account found in Galatians of the dispute between Paul and Barnabas supports the notion that the Gospel of Barnabas existed at the time of St Paul. This dispute between the two is found in Galatians 2 in the New Testament. The Gospel of Barnabas says Paul was misled by Satan and deceived by him. The dispute centered around Paul accusing Peter and Barnabas of trying to satisfy the Jews by following Jewish laws. What this does show is that Barnabas was indeed a follower of Peter the Apostle. Some biblical scholars believe that also at this time the Galatians were using a gospel or several gospels that did not agree with the teachings of Paul. The Gospel of Barnabas could have been one of those gospels Paul disagreed with that the Galatians were using. The Gospel of Peter could have been one of the texts used by the Galatians as well at this time. As a point of information if I’m not mistake I read once that the people of Galatia were primarily from Gaul. They were Celtic Gauls from northern France and southern Germany who had come to the region and formed a colony, thus the name “Galatia.”
According to the gospel Jesus spoke with Barnabas and gave his a secret to keep. In fact it was a great secret. Jesus was weeping at the time he was speaking to Barnabas. Jesus was upset because some men called him God. Jesus told Barnabas that he was but a mere “poor slave” to God. Jesus said that because men had called him God he would not go to Paradise but would not depart the world until the Judgment Day. That is why Jesus was weeping. He also told Barnabas that one of his apostles would betray him for 30 pieces of silver but that the traitor would be slain in his place. He said God would take him into heaven and change the appearance of the traitor so the world would think it was Jesus being slain. Jesus says he will abide in dishonor for a long time in the world after that. He then tells Barnabas that when Ahmed comes, the sacred Messenger of God, God will remove his plight because he will confess Ahmed to be the Messiah.
In the Gospel of Barnabas, Jesus charges him with writing a gospel. He tells him to do this so that the faithful will not become deceived by false teachers and false gospels but, instead, know the eternal truth. The gospel has Jesus being born during the rule of the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate which began in 26 AD. In one part of the gospel, Barnabas appears not to know that the titles “Messiah” and “Christ” are synonyms (mean the same thing). The Greek word “Khristos” is interpreted in English as “Christ” and it means the same thing as the word “Messiah,” that is, “anointed one.” Barnabas also has Adam and Eve eating the infamous apple in chapter 40 from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which God had forbidden them to eat from. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and translated into Latin. The Latin word interpreted as “apple” is “Malum.” In Latin, “Malum” means both “apple” and “evil.”
The gospel also tells of wine being stored in wooden casks in chapter 152. Wooden casks were normally used in Gaul and Northern Italy and were NOT commonly used for storing wine until 300 CE. Wine in 1st Century Palestine was typically stored in wineskins and jars. The English Oak does not grow in Palestine and wood native to that area is not good for storing wine in. These wooden casks had to have come from Gaul and/or Northern Italy. English Oak is airtight and perfect for storing wine.
Some Muslim scholars belief this gospel supports the Islamic view of Jesus. It is commonly cited by Muslims as a counter to the canonical Gospels of the New Testament. In Islam, Jesus’ name is Isa. Muslims consider the Gospel of Barnabas to be a Christian, not Islamic, work and gospel. In fact, the gospel differs on many points with orthodox Islamic belief and teachings. No Muslim scholar believes the Jesus (Isa) in the gospel is an accurate account of Jesus because it differs some with what is contained about Jesus in the Koran.