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The “Gospel” of Barnabas
The Gospel of Barnabas is a medieval forgery, of unknown origin.
The book seems to have been written in Europe sometime during the 14th–16th centuries. It includes geographical and historical inaccuracies as well as errors about Christian and Islamic beliefs. In the Gospel of Barnabas Mohammed is called the Messiah which means “anointed one” (Christ) while in normal Islamic belief Jesus is understood as being the Messiah. In several places the Qur’an itself proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah (see our article for day 22). In the Gospel of Barnabas Jesus is called the Christ (chapter 6). The author did not realize that The word Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah. This is a significant error.
Here are quotes from chapters 96 and 97: Jesus answered: “As God lives, in whose presence my soul stands, I am not the Messiah whom all the tribes of the earth expect, even as God promised to our father Abraham, saying: ‘In your seed will I bless all the tribes of the earth.’ But when God shall take me away from the world, Satan will raise again … making the impious believe that I am God and son of God, whence my words and my doctrine shall be contaminated … God will send his messenger …. who shall come from the south with power, and shall destroy the idols with the idolaters … The name of the Messiah is admirable … Mohammed is his blessed name.”
It is an interesting distortion that Satan is portrayed as the one to claim Jesus as God. The author of the “Gospel of Barnabas” has attempted to rewrite the Biblical Gospel to make it agree with the Qur’an. The aim of the book is to try to convince people that Jesus was a Muslim and predict the coming of Muhammad. And, as such, it is both a weak attempt to distort scripture and an effort to mislead Muslims.
In recent years many Muslims have cited the book in order to show that Jesus was a good Muslim. Jesus is portrayed in the book as a prophet who prays, speaks and acts exactly like traditional Muslims.
- The Gospel is cross-cultural. Pray that this truth be believed and acted upon by Christian’s throughout the Muslim world.
- Pray that believers will accurately be able to show that Jesus was always submitted to the Father but He was more than simply a good prophet.
- May God give Muslims insights into the errors of the Gospel of Barnabas.