Muslims who claim that the New Testament of the Bible is not the original Gospel have searched in vain to find the "real one"! The best that some Muslims could do was to offer a book entitled "Gospel of Barnabas." This work is supposedly the true Gospel written by Barnabas, an early believer, who accompanied the apostle Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-4). Modern scholarship, however, has this to say about the so-called "Gospel of Barnabas":
There was also a "Gospel of Barnabas," referred to by several ancient authors, especially in the "Decree of Galasius" (500 AD); but there is no mention of its contents or character. However, there is in existence a long Italian manuscript under this title written from the Muslim standpoint and containing a strong element of Gnosticism. It was edited in 1907 by Lonsdale and Laura (M Roberts) Ragg, who held it to be the work of an apostate from Christianity, sometime between the 13th and 16th century. Like most of the patristic and medieval apocrypha, the work is highly imaginative, a work of fiction rather than of historical tradition, but it has a strongly marked ethical emphasis. Encyclopedia Americana 1976 edition, page 247
Because of the suspicious nature of this book "Gospel of Barnabas," only a few Muslims have taken it seriously. These are the ones bent on attacking Christianity and the Bible. The more educated Muslims who are well versed in the Qur'an and are familiar with Palestinian history and geography realize that to claim divine origin for such a book is an outright embarrassment to the cause of Islam. The "Gospel of Barnabas" both contradicts the Qur'an and the historical background of
1. The Identity of the Messiah
One of the main objectives of this book, "Gospel of Barnabas" is to remove the title "Messiah" from Jesus to the prophet Muhammad. This attempt, however, is contradicted by both internal and external evidence.
The following references confirm the author's attempt to remove the title "Messiah" from Jesus:
Jesus says he is not the Messiah ( page 121, chap. 96); Muhammad is claimed to be the Messiah (page 123, chap. 97); The Messiah is not of the seed of David or Isaac (pace 182, chap. 142)
Despite the above references from the "Gospel of Barnabas, the Qur'an is very clear in attributing the title Al-Masih (the Messiah) to none other than Jesus, son of Mary. This distinct title is used nowhere in all the Qur'an for any other prophet, including the prophet Muhammad. Notice the following Qur'anic references:
... Christ Jesus (Al-Masih Isa) the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him. -- Surat-un Nisaa (4):171
Behold! the angel said: 0 Mary, God giveth thee glad tidings of a Wordftoni Him; his tiame will be Christ Jesus (Al-Masih Isa), the son of Afary, held in honor in this world and the hereafter. -- Surat-u Ali Imran (3):45
It must also be noted that Muslims agree with the Bible that Jesus was of Jewish descent, from of the lineage of the prophet David, who descended from the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Since the Qur'an identifies Jesus as "the Messiah", then the statement in the "Gospel of Barnabas" that the Messiah is not of the seed of David or Isaac is clearly contradictory to Muslim belief!
Throughout the book, "Gospel of Barnabas," the author uses for Jesus the name Jesus Christ. He thus contradicts himself internally since the word "Christ" from the Greek language is the same title as the Arabic word "Masih." They are both translated "Messiah"! And so the author uses for Jesus the title Christ which means Messiah, and at the same time contends that Jesus is not the Messiah!
2. Scriptural and Traditional Inaccuracies
*page 5, chap. 3: Mention is made that Mary bore Jesus without any pain. The Qur'an, however, clearly says otherwise:
So she conceived him (Jesus), and she retired with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: She cried (in her anguish): "Ah! would that I had been a thing forgottn and out of sight!" -- Surat-u Maryam (19):22-23
*page 26, chap. 23: It is said that circumcision started with Adam. However, both Muslim tradition and the Bible say that this rite began with the community of Abraham and Ishmael.
*page 46, chap. 35: It is alleged that man's navel was made from the spittle of Satan. Yet on page 50, chap. 39, the author says that the dog was created from Satan's spittle. Neither the Qur'an or the Bible indicate that Satan had any part in the creation of man's body, including his navel. Furthermore, most Muslims would agree that the Mighty Creator God certainly did not need Satan's help in creating any part of man
*pagee 51, chap. 39: Adam and Eve were supposedly forbidden to eat of the apples and the corn. However, the Qur'an relates the following:
0 Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will: but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression. -- Surat-ul Baqara (2):35
It is quite possible that "apples" may have been on the forbidden tree, but it is quite commonly known that "corn" does not grow in trees!
*page 57, chap. 44: The idea of the Promise or Covenant being made to the seed of Isaac is refuted. However, nowhere in the Qur'an is mention made of a "covenant" with Ishmael and his descendants. References of such a "Promise" or "Covenant" are in regard to the seed of Isaac which means Israel (Jacob) and his descendants. Thus we read the Qur'anic verse as follows:
0 Children of Israel! call to mind the (special) favor which I bestowed upon you, and fulfill your Covenant with Me as fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me. -- Surat-ul Baqara (2):40
*Page 132, chap. 105: Mention is made of "nine heavens." The Qur'an speaks of only seven:
... Moreover His design comprehended the heavens, for He gave order and perfection to the seven firmaments; -- Surat-ul Baqara (2):29
*page 134, chap. 106: Hell is spoken of as a place of intolerable snow and ice. Many of the Qur'anic references, however, speak of hell as a place of burning flames and boiling water.
*Page 141, chap. 112: Jesus is stated as saying that he would not be raised into heaven until the Day of Judgment. The following references of the Qur'an indicate otherwise:
Behold! God said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself ..." -- Surat-u Ali-Imran (3):55
Nay, God raised him up unto Himself: and God is exalted in Power, Wise. -- Surat-un Nisaa (4):158
*page 156, chap. 124: It is stated that the Zabur (Book of Psalms) was given because of the corruption of the Taurat (Books of Moses), and that the Injil (New Testament) was given because of the subsequent corruption of the Zabur.
However, this line of reasoning is nowhere to be found in the scriptures of Al-Qur'an. To the contrary, the Holy Books of the Bible are spoken of as light and guidance to mankind. Had the Books of the Bible been corrupted, the Qur'an would not have contained the following admonitions:
If only they had stoodfast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have ejoyed happiness from every side. Surat-ul Maida (5):66
0 ye who believe! Believe in God and His apostle, and the scripture which He hath sent to His apostle and the scripture which He sent to them before him. And who denieth God, His angels, His Books, His Apostles, and the Day of Judgment hath gone far, far astray. Surat-un Nisaa (4):136
*page 273, chap. 221: Jesus is quoted as saying, "I died not." Though most Muslims deny the death of Jesus, the Qur'an is not clear on this issue and even gives stronger evidence for the belief that Jesus did die, before being raised up to God. Notice the following Qur'anic verse:
Behold! God said, "O Jesus, I will take thee and raise thee to Myself..." -- Surat-u Ali-Imran (3):55
The Arabic expression for "I will take thee" is "tawaffika" meaning "I will cause you to die." This expression is used again in verse Surat-ul Maida (5):117 where Jesus says to God, "...when Thou didst take me up." Here again the Arabic literally means "when you caused me to die."
There is another verse which indicates that Jesus died before being raised to God. Jesus is quoted as saying:
So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)! -- Surat-u Maryam (19):33
In "The Holy Qur'an / Translation and Commentary," Yusuf Ali in his footnote No. 2485 says, "...those who believe that he (Jesus) never died should ponder over this verse." To get around this issue many Muslims teach that when Jesus returns to the earth, he will die at that time. However, such teaching is nowhere to be found in the Qur'an!
*It is important to note that nowhere in the "Gospel of Barnabas" is any mention made of John the Baptist whom Muslims call "Yahya." However, in both the Qur'an and the Bible, John the Baptist (Yahya) is a very prominent figure. He was the one commissioned to be the forerunner or the witness of the advent of Jesus. John's primary mission was to confirm that Jesus was the Messiah, the "Anointed One" of God. It is clear now why the author of the "Gospel of Barnabas" completely omitted any reference to John the Baptist. In his attempt to make Muhammad the Messiah, he made the witness of the Messiah to be Jesus, thus eliminating any need for the mission of John the Baptist. By now it should be clear that all of this is contradictory to the teaching of the Qur'an!
3. Geographical and Historical Inaccuracies
*page 22, chap. 20: "... sailed to Nazareth on the Sea of Galilee." Nazareth is located inland and is not a seaport as indicated.
*Pap-e 23, chap. 21: "... went up to Capernaum." However, Capernaum is not inland, but is a port city on the Sea of Galilee.
*page 116, chap. 92: It is stated that Jesus went to Mt. Sinai, then drew nigh to the Jordan River. However, Mt. Sinai is located on the Egyptian side of Israel, and the Jordan River on the Jordan side of Israel. These two locations are extremely far apart, not near!
*page 217, chap. 169: "How beautiful is the world in summertime, when all things bear fruit." This description may be true for places like Europe, but not so of Palestinian summers, where the ground is left dry and barren by the hot scorching sun!
*page 4, chap. 3: "... and Pilate was governor in the priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas when Jesus was born." However, history records that Pilate did not become governor until 26-27 A.D.
*page 11, chap. 12: The words "ascend to the pinnacle" are more indicative of medieval 15-16th century Europe when speeches were delivered from lofty balconies. This particular expression does not reflect the method of Palestinian Jews giving sermons from their synagogues.
*page 19, chap. 18: Mention is made of the slaying of ten thousand prophets by the woman Jezebel. However, no such event is recorded either by the scriptures of the Holy Books or the pages of history.
*page 41, chap. 32: Mention is made of the idol of Baal spreading throughout all the world. However, there has been no archeological evidence to substantiate such a claim.
*page 82, chap. 65: The word "Probatica" is used in reference to a pool. However, this was a Greek name used for one of the entrances into Jerusalem called the "Sheep Gate."
*page 115, chap. 91: Reference is made to 600,000 Roman soldiers assembling in the small town of Mizpeh. Such an event is nowhere recorded in the annals of Rome, and appears to be sheer exaggeration!
*page 130, chap. 103: The words "mariner" and "ship" are not typical for Palestine during the time of Jesus and in the area he ministered. They are more indicative of places such as Spain or Italy of Medieval Europe.
*page 185, chap. 145: Mention is made of 17,000 Pharisees in the time of Elijah the Prophet. However, the Pharisee sect did not come into being until 200 B.C. during the Jewish Macabean Era. Elijah lived long before in 900 B.C., seven hundred years earlier
*page 196, chap. 152: Reference is made to soldiers being rolled out like casks of wood when washed to refill with wine. However, wooden casks were not typical of the times of Jesus' ministry. In that time and still today, wine skins were used, made of animal hides, not wood. Wooden wine casks reflect Medieval Europe from where they were exported to other parts of the world.
*page 262, chap. 214: Mention is made of thirty pieces of gold. However, during the times of Jesus, Palestinian currency tended to be in silver pieces.
Conclusion: From the many examples given, it should be clear to both Muslims and Christians that this so-called "Gospel of Barnabas" can not be regarded as of divine origin. All evidence indicates that it is a forgery composed by someone most likely during the Middle Ages of Europe as an attack on Christianity. Some researchers think the "Gospel of Barnabas" may have been written by someone of Spanish or Italian background who resented the removal of Islam from Spain by the Christians, and thus attempted to present Muhammad superior to Jesus. It is evident that this devious work has been exposed by the seekers of truth; and Truth shall forever prevail!