32 Reasons why the Gospel Of Barnabas is a 16th Century Forgery written by Muslims.
The Koran teaches that someone who looked like Jesus was crucified on the cross in a case of mistaken identity. Many Muslims appeal to the Gospel of Barnabas as proof that the unknown look alike was Judas Iscariot.
- "they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them" (Qur'an 4:156)
- "Verily I say that the voice, the face, and the person of Judas were so like to Jesus, that his disciples and believers entirely believed that be was Jesus" (Gospel of Barnabas)
Historical discovery of the Gospel of Barnabas in 1709 AD:
The "Gospel of Barnabas" (G.o.B.) first appeared in Holland in 1709. This manuscript was written in Italian and supplied with footnotes in poor Arabic. The sources of the "Gospel" are unknown. This document is now preserved in the Imperial Museum in Vienna.
George Sale translated the Qur'an from Arabic into English in 1734. In his preface, he mentions another copy of the same "Gospel" in Spanish. This document is lost and all we know about it is what Sale wrote down. It says in a statement on the title page that it was a translation from the Italian by a Spanish Muslim named Mostafa de Aranda (Aranda is a town in Spain). It further mentions that the Italian text had been stolen by a monk, Fra Marino, from the papal library, while Pope Sixtus V was having a little nap. After reading it Fra Marino became a Muslim. Since that time, Muslims have claimed that the "Gospel of Barnabas" is an authentic Gospel, perhaps even the "original" one. In 1907 the G.o.B. was translated into English by Laura and Lonsdale Ragg. In the introduction, they provide internal and external evidence to the effect that the G.o.B. was a Medieval forgery.
Since then Arabic and Urdu translations have been produced, all, however, without the introduction by the Raggs. Lt.-Col. M.A. Rahim (Pakistan) reprinted the G.o.B. in English in 1973, again omitting the introduction, but substituting another one written from the Islamic point of view.
The Gospel of Barnabas has been extensively used by Muslims to demonstrate that the Bible has been corrupted, when measured against a Gospel that was hidden away for nearly two millennia. Needless to say, the G.o.B. largely confirms the teaching of Islam concerning Jesus.
To believe that the Gospel of Barnabas is anything other than a 16th century fraud is an assault on common sense.
The content of the Gospel of Barnabas:
Above all, the entire G.o.B. endeavours to show the superiority of Muhammad over Jesus.
Of the G.o.B. presents another Gospel narrative, i.e. another record of the life and ministry of Christ. On most doctrinal points it differs widely from the accepted Gospel account and in such a way that the Islamic version of Jesus is emphasized.
Jesus Christ is neither the Son of God, nor divine. He is rather: "the voice crying in the wilderness" to prepare the way for the coming Messiah, Muhammad. In the G.o.B. Christ is not the Messiah, but assumes instead a role similar to that of John the Baptist in our Gospel account. John the Baptist is not mentioned in the G.o.B. Consequently, the emphasis in the G.o.B. is on the coming of Muhammad, the saviour of the world (Chapter 96b and 97b, etc.). As might be expected, Christ was not crucified (in agreement with Sura 4:156), but instead Judas was killed in His place. During the period of His supposed arrest, Christ was hiding in a house in the garden of Gethsemane from where He was taken out by four (!) archangels (a much later tradition or legend) through the window and ascended into the third of seven heavens.
32 reasons why the Gospel of Barnabas is a forgery written in 1585 AD:
"Internal Evidence is supplied by the content of the book itself. Any writing is sure to bear the mark of a particular age. The style, language and subject matter of the book will betray it." (Gairdner, page 9).
"If someone brought you a film which he claimed to have been made in 1905 and started to screen it and it looked every bit like an old film, with old clothes and fashions, you might believe him. If, however, in the middle of a scene ... you saw a Concorde going across the sky, you would say ... 'This film is a fabrication.'" (John Gilchrist).
A. Irrefutable proof the Gospel of Barnabas was written around 1585 AD:
- Most suspicious of course, is any mentioning of the name of Muhammad. (In Chapters 44, 54, 112, 97 and 163, etc.) It is particularly suspicious, since all the other evidence points to the fact that the whole of the G.o.B is a Medieval forgery. But other Islamic thought is also reflected in the G.o.B.
- In Chapter 54, the Italian text mentions a denarius, which is made up of 60 minuti. These gold coins were used only in Spain under Khalif Abdul Malik (in 685 A.D.).
- The Italian poet Dante lived about the time of the composition of the G.o.B. (1265-1321) and it is interesting to notice a number of quotations from Dante's works in the G.o.B. There are many and they can hardly be regarded as coincidences. The G.o.B. quotes Jesus as saying to Peter: "Know ye therefore, that hell is one, yet hath seven centres one below another. Hence, even as sin is of seven kinds, for as seven gates of hell has Satan generated it: So are seven punishments therein." (Chapter 135a). This is exactly what Dante says in Cantos V, VI, etc. of his "Inferno". Again "Barnabas" says that God, having created the human senses, condemned them "to hell and to intolerable snow and ice" (Chapter 106, which corresponds with Cantos XXVIII and III of the "Inferno"). The description of human sins and their returning at the end like a river to Satan, who is their source, is another indirect quotation from Dante's description of the rivers of hell. Similarly, the passages about the believers going to hell, not to be tortured, but to see the unbelievers in their torments, recalls to mind Dante's picture of the same. The differentiation between degrees of glory, and the absence of all feuds and jealousies in heaven, are taken entirely from Dante's "Paradise", Canto III. But still stronger evidence that "Barnabas" quotes directly or indirectly from Dante is his description of the "Geography of Heaven". There "Barnabas" agrees with Dante and contradicts even the Qur'an itself. The Qur'an (Sura 2:29) says that the heavens are seven in number, while "Barnabas" gives the number as nine (Chapter 178a) (Gairdner, pages 19-21). These few indications are sufficient evidence that the writer of the G.o.B. must have been acquainted with the writings of Dante and consequently must have I lived after Dante, or else been a contemporary of his.
- First we should like to observe that all quotations in the G.o.B. from Old and New Testament are taken from the Vulgate translation. (Approximately 380 A.D.) This Latin Bible has been used in the Catholic Church ever since. The above is an example of an anachronism because the G.o.B. is supposed to date from before the Vulgate was written.
- In Chapters 91-92 we are told that Jesus and His disciples kept "the 40 days". The context clearly shows that this refers to the period of Lent before Easter, celebrated by the church, but from a very much later period than the days of the early church. (The church meditates at this time on the suffering of Christ, which was obviously unknown when Christ was still alive). We find that Lent was celebrated only from the fourth century A.D. onwards. Jesus and His disciples are said to have gone for the 40 day fast to Mount Sinai. which is some 450 km away. There is no report in the New Testament to confirm this.
- In Chapter 3 of the G.o.B. the birth of Christ is described as having been painless. This belief was not current in the Church before Thomas Aquinas (died 1278) but is mentioned in Sura 19:23
- Not before the Fourth Century A.D. was the title "Virgin" given to Mary, yet it appears in the G.o.B.
- Origen A.D. 184-254 was the first scholar to assume that Mount Tabor was the Mount of Transfiguration. The Bible does not confirm this. The Christian tradition that it was Mount Moriah begins only in the Third Century, and yet the G.o.B. contains this information.
- The G.o.B. mentions four archangels, which is also a tradition of the church that dated from the early Medieval period.
- In Chapter 82 mention is made of the "Years of the Jubilee, which now cometh every 100 years." The Year of Jubilee, according to the Old Testament, was every 50th year (after seven times seven years). The origin of this faulty information is as follows: In the year A.D. 1300 Pope Boniface the VIII instituted the Jubilee as a centenary event. Owing to its financial success, however, Pope Clement VI reversed Boniface's decision and celebrated the next Jubilee in 1350. This was thus the only time that the Year of Jubilee was intended as a centenary occasion - it never was in practice. (Gairdner, page 19).
- Eve is said to have eaten an "apple" in Paradise (Chapters 40 and 41). We are well aware that Eve ate an unspecified fruit, but the belief that this was an apple dates from a very much later date.
- Another proof of the G.o.B. being Medieval in origin, is that we have a report (Chapter 99) of a duel between two rival lovers. This type of chivalry was a creation of Medieval society (Gairdner, page 24).
- In Chapter 39 Adam sees bright writing and the content is none other than the Kalimah. There is only one God" and "Muhammad is the Messenger of God." (The Kalimah is an Arabic word which has found its way to other languages of Muslim people. It refers to the declaration which brings a person into the fold of Islam. Anyone who wishes to be a Muslim must declare that he believes in the Oneness of Allah and in the Prophet as Allah's messenger.)
B. Factual errors of history, geography and violations of common sense:
- The surprised reader of the G.o.B. finds Nazareth on the shore of Lake Galilee (Chapter 20), whereas it is a town miles away from the Lake, surrounded by mountains.
- In the next chapter, we see Jesus going UP to Capernaum, whereas Capernaum is situated right on the shore of the Lake.
- In Chapter 151 we are told that Jesus embarked on a ship (from Nazareth?) and next we read that he arrived in Jerusalem. We might well ask whether this was also done by boat?
- We are further informed that a certain dispute would have ended in war, but the Romans assembled three armies each numbering 200,000 men at Mizpeh (Chapter 91). The entire Roman army at that time numbered only 300,000, however. (Encyclopedia Britannica).
- According to the G.o.B. Jesus was born when Pilate was governor, but in fact he only became governor between A.D. 26 and 27.
- In Chapter 145 of the G.o.B. Pharisees date back as far as the time of Elijah and there were supposed to have been 17,000. In fact, history first knows about Pharisees seven centuries later, in the period between 135-104 B.C.
- We find it highly suspicious and wrong to read that the Torah was written by an Ismaelite (Chapter 192).
- In Chapter 152 we are informed that soldiers were "rolled out of the temple as one rolleth casks of wood when they are washed to refill them with wine." Wooden barrels were invented 2000 years ago in Gaul but were not used in the East in New Testament times. Wine and other liquids were stored in skins.
C. Contradictions with the Bible:
- In Chapter 6 another interesting common error is found. It speaks here of the three Magi or wise men coming from the East. The New Testament does not specify the number, but gives a list of three gifts that were brought by the Magi, namely gold, myrrh and frankincense. This later led to the assumption that there were three wise men from the East. But this belief certainly does not derive or date from the New Testament.
- In the G.o.B. (Chapter 1) "Barnabas" is called an Apostle. This is not correct in its implication. Although Barnabas is referred to as an Apostle (Acts 14:4,14), the G.o.B. concept is quite different. The conversion of Barnabas took place after the Day of Pentecost and consequently he does not qualify for apostleship as outlined in Acts 1:21-22 (and bearing in mind I Corinthians 15:8, 9:1-2, 1:1, Romans 1:1 etc.).
- "Jesus drew near to the Priest (High Priest) with reverence, but he was wishful to bow himself down and worship Jesus, when Jesus cried out: 'Beware of that which thou doest, Priest of the Living God! Sin not against our God!" (Chapter 93). Jesus accepted worship many times in scripture because He is the creator.
- In "the true book of Moses ... (it) is written that Ishmael is the father of Messiah, and Isaac the father of the messenger of the Messiah" (Chapter 191).
- In Chapter 222, the last chapter of the G.o.B., we read: "After Jesus had departed (after having been raised from his hiding place through the window of the house in the Garden of Gethsemane) the disciples scattered through the different parts of Israel and of the world, and the truth, hated of Satan, was persecuted, as it always is, by falsehood. For certain evil men, pretending to be disciples, preached that Jesus died and rose not again. Others preached that he really died, but rose again. Others preached and yet preach that Jesus is the Son of God, among whom is Paul deceived." The G.o.B. herewith endeavours to correct preceding Gospels and Paul. We wish to ask the question when and how was the writer aware that the disciples had scattered throughout the different parts of the world? This question is left open, but easily answered by us, for we believe that it is yet another anachronism.
- In Chapter 97 Muhammad is clearly called the Messiah. The Qur'an, as well as the Bible confers this title on Jesus. It is somehow strange to realize that in the introduction of the G.o.B. Jesus is called Christ and in Chapters 42 and 82 "Barnabas" denies that Jesus is the Messiah. Only a theologically very ignorant person could have made such statements, because "Christos" is the Greek word for the Hebrew "Messiah".
- In Chapter 80 of the G.o.B. we find a story about Daniel, which has it that he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar while he was yet two years old. This statement, it will be observed, is incompatible with what may be inferred from the Bible narrative. According to the latter, it was in the second year of his reign that Nebuchadnezzar had his famous dream, which Daniel interpreted. "Then the King gave Daniel high honours and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief prefect over the all-wise men of Babylon." (Daniel 2:48). Now if we suppose that Nebuchadnezzar captured Daniel in the first year of his reign (the earliest possible date, which could be assigned to Daniel's captivity) and that, according to "Barnabas", Daniel was then two years old, it would follow then that in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, Daniel was only three years old (Gairdner, page 26). Daniel was in fact born in 621 B.C. and the captivity began in 605 B.C., so he was 16 years old when taken prisoner.
D. Islam and the Qur'an was the obvious source:
- Jesus prayed five times a day according to the G.o.B. and all the Muslim prayer times are mentioned. (Drs. J. Slomp, page 128).
- The Islamic concept of "the Book" is found in Chapter 10, where we read that the angel Gabriel presented to Jesus as it were a shining mirror, a book, which descended into the heart of Jesus. This corresponds very well with Suras 5:49 and 2:97.
- We read that Ishmael was offered on the altar by Abraham (Chapter 44). This is clearly an Islamic concept.
- God is said to be the God of Abraham, ISHMAEL and Isaac in Chapter 212. It should read, according to the O.T. the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.
"The Gospel of Barnabas" edited and translated by Lonsdale and Laura Ragg (1907), published by Begum Aisha Bawany Wakf Bank House No. 1 Habib Square M.A. Sinnah Road Karachi - Pakistan
"The Gospel of Barnabas, an Essay and Inquiry" by Selim 'Abdul-Ahad and W.H.T. Gairdner. (1975)
Publishers: "Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies". P.O. Box 153, Hyderabad, India.
"Pseudo-Barnabas in the context of Muslim-Christian Apologetics" by Dr. Jan Slomp. (1974) Published by: "Christian Study Centre" 126-B Murree Road, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
A paper by J.N.J. Kritzinger entitled "The Gospel of Barnabas Carefully Examined"
"Origins and Sources of the Gospel of Barnabas" by John Gilchrist
"Missing Documents from the Gospel of Barnabas" by Adam Peerbhai
Organized by Brother Andrew Who offers special thanks to Gerhard Nehls and his book, "Christians Answer Muslims", The gospel of Barnabas, which was adapted in the preparation of this outline.
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