The Gospel of Barnabas: Secret Bible?

Does a “secret Bible” discovered in a Turkish smuggling sting contain the real truth about the identity of Jesus Christ? According to a Turkish official, a 1,500-year-old ancient leather-bound text, secretly hidden for 12 years, could be an authentic version of the Gospel of Barnabas.

Muslim blogs are going ballistic with the news of this discovery. According to some Islamic scholars, the Gospel of Barnabas was “suppressed by the Christian Church for its strong parallels with the Islamic view of Jesus.”[1] Reflecting this Muslim belief, an Islamic website survey reveals that over half of its readers believe the Gospel of Barnabas is the true Gospel of Jesus.[2] Muslim author Muhammad Ata ur-Rahim, claims, “The Gospel of Barnabas is the only known surviving Gospel written by a disciple of Jesus … “[3] Rahim claims the Gospel was widely circulated in the early church until A.D. 325.

According to this “secret Bible,” Barnabas was one of Jesus’ original twelve apostles. However, in the book of Acts, Luke introduces Barnabas as an apostle who came after the original twelve, and was a fellow missionary with the apostle Paul. In their travels, Paul and Barnabas boldly declared Jesus’ death, resurrection and lordship in the first century.[4]

A Different Jesus?

Although the document entitled the Gospel of Barnabas contains much of the same information as the four New Testament Gospels, it differs greatly with regard to the identity of Jesus Christ. A few of the significant differences are that the Gospel of Barnabas:

  • Denies Jesus’ deity
  • Rejects the Trinity
  • Denies Jesus’ crucifixion

Denies Jesus as Messiah (this view disagrees with the Qur’an)
The ancient Turkish manuscript departs from the teaching of the Qur’an by calling Muhammad the Messiah rather than Jesus.[5] However, like the Qur’an, the Gospel of Barnabas presents Jesus as a mere mortal. In it, Jesus supposedly says,

“I confess before heaven, and call to witness everything that dwells upon the earth, that I am a stranger to all that men have said of me, to wit, that I am more than man. For I am a man, born of a woman, subject to the judgment of God; that live here like as other men, subject to the common miseries.”[6]

Clearly the Gospel of Barnabas depicts Jesus denying his deity, whereas the apostle John clearly writes of Jesus as God the Son, Creator of the world:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been madeā€¦.The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory…[7]

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