How the Gospel of Barnabas Survived

 

The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria till 325 C.E.  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 any one in possession of these Gospels will be put to death. The article, How the Gospel Survived, gives a brief narrative on the text's survival.

    An Islamic perspective and commentary are added to each chapter of the Gospel. The commentary highlights any differences or commanlities which exist between the Gospel and the primary Islamic texts, especially the Holy Quran.

    It should be noted that while presenting the Gospel, chapter headings have been added by us and are not part of the Gospel's text.

The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria till 325 C.E. Iranaeus (130-200) 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 any one 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 there was found on his breast a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas written by his own hand. (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) 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 Cramer presented this manuscript to the famous connoisseur of books, Prince Eugene of Savoy. In 1738 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), in Vol. I, page 380, mentions 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 Nicephorus 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.
A Greek version of the Gospel of Barnabas is also found in a solitary fragment. The rest is burnt.

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, DC. The first edition was from a micro-film copy of the book in the Library of the Congress, Washington, DC.