Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Submitted to a Medieval Forgery, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1

Seventh, the medieval Gospel of Barnabas is much better than the Islamic scripture with regard to the prediction of Mohammad’s prophetic ministry. In the entire Qur’an, there is only one verse in which Jesus allegedly predicts Mohammad’s advent:

And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the PraisedOne. Yet when he hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic. (Surah 61:6 Pickthall)

This verse, which belongs to the late Medina period of the Qur’an, seems a bit troublesome for a few reasons. Although the adjective occurring in this verse corresponds to the name Ahmad in Arabic and thus links the supposed prophecy with Mohammad due to the similarities between the Arabic names Ahmad and Mohammad, the statement supposedly uttered by Jesus addresses the Jewish community. Accordingly, the reader may get the impression that Ahmad will be sent to Israel because Jesus appeals primarily to the Israelites. However, Mohammad claimed to be a prophet primarily sent to Mecca in Arabia. Further, Jesus’ alleged prediction seems to draw a parallelism between the Torah and Ahmad, for Jesus claims to stand between the Torah and Ahmad and represent present time whilst Torah represents the past and Ahmad the future. Consequently, Ahmad is expected to come to Israel in the same way as the Torah and Jesus.

Keeping this problem aside, Muslim scholars rushed to search for some verses in the New Testament that could possibly confirm Jesus’ prediction in the Qur’an verse. The only Gospel they could abuse for the sake of verifying the Islamic allegations was the one written by John the Apostle. Jesus’ farewell discourse in John 14-16 became the subject of a lackluster controversy between Islamic scholars and Christian apologists since the former focused on Jesus’ promise of a Comforter and astonishingly concluded that the promised Comforter was Mohammad:

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you
another Advocate to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17)

Even though the description of the Advocate (Comforter/Counselor) in the above verse as an eternal spirit rather than a human being brings the Islamic assertions to naught, Muslim scholars argue that the Greek word for “advocate” is Parakletos, which is very similar to Periklytos, the Greek equivalent of the name “Ahmad”. The supposition that the writers of the Qur’an insisted on identifying Mohammad as Ahmad because they were aware of the similarities between the Greek word for advocate and for “the praised one” and thus aimed to raise doubts concerning the promise in John’s Gospel cannot be dismissed altogether. However, the context of the verse in the 61st chapter of the Islamic scripture denies any such affiliation and reduces the issue to coincidence. In John’s Gospel Jesus promises the Comforter only to His followers in return for their faith in and love for Him whereas in the Qur’an Jesus promises Ahmad to all the Israelites during His prophetic ministry, disregarding the condition of belief in Him for Ahmad’s advent. This difference turns the Islamic assertions into a legend having no basis in the New Testament.

The writer of the medieval Gospel of Barnabas, on the other hand, is not pleased with the cryptic and vague prediction of Mohammad’s name in the Qur’an verse. Therefore, he repeats his basic strategy with regard to Mohammad’s prediction by overtly distorting the Gospels and implicitly correcting and ameliorating the Islamic scripture. The outcome of this habitual perversion is the new teaching that Jesus is not the Messiah, but His forerunner. Pseudo Barnabas attributes all the statements originally uttered by John the Baptist in John’s Gospel to Jesus in his forgery, replacing John the Forerunner with Jesus in the canonical writings. For instance, the account below is the altered version of John’s Gospel 1:19-27:

Then the disciples wept after this discourse, and Jesus was weeping, when they saw many who came to find him, for the chiefs of the priests took counsel among themselves to catch him in his talk. Wherefore they sent the Levites and some of the scribes to question him, saying: "Who are you? Jesus confessed, and said the truth: "I am not the Messiah." They said: "Are you Elijah or Jeremiah, or any of the ancient prophets?" Jesus answered: "No." Then said they: "Who are you? Say, in order that we may give testimony to those who sent us." Then Jesus said: "I am a voice that cries through all Judea, and cries: "Prepare you the way for the messenger of the Lord," even as it is written in Esaias." They said: "If you be not the Messiah nor Elijah, or any prophet, wherefore do you preach new doctrine, and make yourself of more account than the Messiah?" Jesus answered: "The miracles which God works by my hands show that I speak that which God wills; nor indeed do I make myself to be accounted as him of whom you speak. For I am not worthy to unloose the ties of the hosen or the ratchets of the shoes of the Messenger of God whom you call "Messiah," who was made before me, and shall come after me, and shall bring the words of truth, so that his faith shall have no end." (Gospel of Barnabas 42:1-3)

Fake Barnabas’ manipulation of the original narrative necessitates the deletion of John the Baptist from his own history and gospel. The Gospel of Barnabas seemingly corrects the Qur’an too and saves it from the problems caused by the occurrence of John’s name in it as Jesus the Messiah’s forerunner:

Then Zachariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer. And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous. (Surah 3:38-39 Pickthall)

And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). (Surah 3:45 Pickthall)

The fact that the Qur’an says nothing about John’s prophetic ministry and does not relate the fulfillment of the divine promise that he will confirm Jesus is a big problem for Muslim scholars.
10. More to the point, Jesus’ alleged prediction in the 6th verse of the 61st chapter would perfectly solve this problem if Jesus’ name were simply changed to John’s. This was because John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah and predicted His coming to Israel. More interestingly, the structure of the Qur’an verse looks like the perversion of the Baptist’s testimony to Jesus in John’s Gospel:

On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is greater than I am, because he existed before me. (John 1:29-30)

In the canonical account John the Forerunner says that Jesus was before him and came after him. This is similar to Jesus’ defining Himself in the Qur’an verse as a man between the Torah and Ahmad. Last of all, the statement in the Qur’an verse following Jesus’ prediction is more applicable to Jesus than to Mohammad:

And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the Praised One. Yet when he hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic. (Surah 61:6)

In another Qur’an verse Jesus’ miracles are enumerated and the Israelites are accused of considering Jesus’ work mere magic:

When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity; and how I taught thee the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and how thou didst shape of clay as it were the likeness of a bird by My permission, and didst blow upon it and it was a bird by My permission, and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead by My permission; and how I restrained the Children of Israel from (harming) thee when thou camest unto them with clear proofs, and those of them who disbelieved exclaimed: This is naught else than mere magic. (Surah 5:110 Pickthall)

In the light of this verse it is more reasonable to think that the person predicted as a prophet in Surah 61:6 was Jesus rather than Ahmad because Jesus went to the Israelites and performed many miracles, all of which were called mere magic by the Israelites. Mohammad neither went to Israel nor performed any miracles. This supports the idea that the writers of the Qur’an started a chain of mistakes when they transformed John the Baptist into Jesus while trying to claim that Mohammad was prophesied by Jesus. The result of this mistake is not only a verse with an awkward structure, but also the sudden disappearance of John’s ministry and testimony from the Qur’an.

Pseudo Barnabas does not repeat the mistakes of the authors of the Qur’an, but goes ahead to correct and improve the Islamic scripture by simply turning Jesus into John the Forerunner and Mohammad into the promised Messiah.

Additionally, Pseudo Barnabas objects to the cryptic presentation of Mohammad’s name as Ahmad in the Qur’an. In order to clear all the doubts and convince Christians that Jesus uttered the name Mohammad, fake Barnabas refers to the Islamic messenger’s personal name. For instance:

Then said the priest: "How shall the Messiah be called, and what sign shall reveal his coming?” Jesus answered: "The name of the Messiah is admirable, for God himself gave him the name when he had created his soul, and placed it in a celestial splendour. God said: "Wait Muhammad; for your sake I will to create paradise, the world, and a great multitude of creatures, whereof I make you a present, insomuch that whoever shall bless you shall be blessed, and whoever shall curse you shall be accursed. When I shall send you into the world I shall send you as my Messenger of salvation, and your word shall be true, insomuch that heaven and earth shall fail, but your faith shall never fail." Muhammad is his blessed name." Then the crowd lifted up their voices, saying: "O God send us your Messenger: O Muhammad, come quickly for the salvation of the world!" (Gospel of Barnabas 97:6)

Finally, some Muslim scholars love and praise the Gospel of Barnabas because they know that its writer forged it to save Islam from the trouble and burden of looking for a ghost-like book that was supposedly revealed by Allah to Jesus. Being aware of the fact that such a book never existed in history, Pseudo Barnabas decided to write that kind of a book himself and gave hope and joy to the Muslims who had become desperate after seeing that their prayers and implorations to Allah for the discovery of Jesus’ original Gospel had fallen on deaf ears. When fake Barnabas witnessed this Islamic despair, he decided to interfere and help Muslims by forging a Gospel and ascribing it to Jesus. Relevantly, fake Barnabas named his forgery the “true Gospel of Jesus” right in its first sentence:

True Gospel of Jesus, called Christ, a new prophet sent by God to the world: according to the description of Barnabas his apostle. (Prologue to the Italian manuscript)

In order to present his writing as the true Gospel of Jesus, pseudo Barnabas did not forget to consolidate the supposed authenticity of his forgery by putting the following words into Jesus’ mouth just before His ascension:

Jesus turned himself to him who writes, and said: "Barnabas, see that by all means you write my gospel concerning all that has happened through my dwelling in the world. And write in a similar manner that which has befallen Judas, in order that the faithful may be undeceived, and every one may believe the truth." (Gospel of Barnabas 221:1)

Clearly, spurious Barnabas preferred adapting the Islamic concept of the Gospel to the purely Christian understanding when he endorsed the idea that Gospel (Injil in Arabic) is not the name of a book given to Jesus from above, but the good news written by Jesus’ disciples who wanted to give testimony to His words and acts. This he did by being sure of the fact that the Islamic definition of the word “Gospel” would add nothing good to Islam and the Qur’an.


Submission to the medieval forgery named the Gospel of Barnabas is still common among Muslims no matter how many books are published to prove that the medieval forgery ascribed to Apostle Barnabas has several discrepancies with the Qur’an and contains gross examples of anachronism. In this paper I have tried to reckon the major reasons for the Islamic submission to the medieval Gospel of Barnabas and compared this forgery with both the Qur’an and the canonical Christian scripture.

The answer to the question WHY Muslims submit themselves to the Gospel of Pseudo Barnabas reveals the mistakes and deficiencies of the Qur’an on the basis of the perversion of the Christian scripture for its adaptation to Mohammad’s teachings. Of the two scriptures that aim to distort the Holy Bible, the Gospel of Barnabas is much better in form and content than the Qur’an as it serves to correct the mistakes of the Islamic scripture with the help of the traditional Islamic teachings and commentaries unknown to Mohammad. In short, the medieval Gospel of Barnabas can be considered a corrected and improved version of the Qur’an.

Fake Barnabas’ zeal to replace Jesus the Messiah, an Israelite, with Mohammad, an Arab, is manifested in his forgery in the form of a supposed enmity and conflict between the Israelites and Ishmaelites. Since spurious Barnabas believes that Mohammad is a descendant of Ishmael (an Ishmaelite), he modifies some of the canonical accounts as a result of his will to present Ishmael’s descendants as the counterpart of the Samaritans in the original Gospels. For example:

Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten men with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance, raised their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went along, they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He fell with his face to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. (Now he was a Samaritan.) Then Jesus said, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to turn back and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to the man, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-18)

Having finished his devotions Jesus came down from the mountain with his disciples, and met ten lepers, who from afar off cried out: "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us!" Jesus called them near to him, and said to them: "What will you of me, O brethren?" They all cried out: "Give us health!" Jesus answered: "Ah, wretched that you are, have you so lost your reason for that you say: "Give us health?" See you not me to be a man like yourselves. Call to our God that has created you: and he that is almighty and merciful will heal you. With tears the lepers answered: "We know that you are man like us, but yet an holy one of God and a prophet of the Lord; wherefore pray you to God, and he will heal us. Thereupon the disciples prayed Jesus, saying: "Lord, have mercy upon them." Then groaned Jesus and prayed to God, saying: "Lord God almighty and merciful, have mercy and hearken to the words of your servant: and for love of Abraham our father and for your holy covenant have mercy on the request of these men, and grant them health." Whereupon Jesus, having said this, turned himself to the lepers and said: "Go and show yourselves to the priests according to the Law of God." The lepers departed, and on the way were cleansed. Whereupon one of them, seeing that he was healed, returned to find Jesus, and he was an Ishmaelite. And having found Jesus he bowed himself, doing reverence to him, and saying: "Truly you are an holy one of God" and with thanks he prayed him that he would receive him for servant. Jesus answered: "Ten have been cleansed; where are the nine?" And he said to him that was cleansed: "I am not come to be served, but to serve; O wherefore go to your home, and recount how much God has done in you, in order that they may know that the promises made to Abraham and his son, with the kingdom of God, are drawing nigh." The cleansed leper departed, and having arrived in his own neighbourhood recounted how much God through Jesus had wrought in him. (Gospel of Barnabas 19:3-5)

Obviously, spurious Barnabas does not only change the Samaritan in Luke’s Gospel into an Ishmaelite in his, but also binds this modification to his basic argument concerning the identity of Abraham’s son to whom the promises were made. The Qur’an, however, never makes the claim that God’s promises were made in Ishmael or that God tested Abraham through Ishmael. This is mainly because the writers of the Qur’an found another way of making an association between Ishmael and Mohammad. Instead of basing his theories on a racial affinity, Mohammad asserted that Abraham and Ishmael had been to Mecca and constructed the Cube. The insertion of this allegation into the Islamic scripture illustrates Mohammad’s desire to narrate the so-called construction of the Cube by Abraham and Ishmael as hard evidence not only for the sanctity of the cube and the rituals of pilgrimage, but also for the veracity of his prophetic ministry:

And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower. Our Lord! And make us submissive unto Thee and of our seed a nation submissive unto Thee, and show us our ways of worship, and relent toward us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Relenting, the Merciful. Our Lord! And raise up in their midst a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Thy revelations, and shall instruct them in the Scripture and in wisdom and shall make them grow. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Mighty, Wise. And who forsaketh the religion of Abrahamsave him who befooleth himself? Verily We chose him in the world, and lo! in the Hereafter he is among the righteous.
(Surah 2:127-130 Pickthall)

Since spurious Barnabas was unaware of these Qur’an verses, he talked of neither Mecca nor the Cube in his forgery.


1 Several articles analyzing the forgery named "Gospel of Barnabas" can be found here.
2 All the references come from the Gospel of Barnabas on R. Blackhirst's website (*), the English translation having been made by Canon L. Ragg in 1907.
3 The high priest's statements here remind Jesus of His previous confession and revelation of His identity, which is narrated in chapters 92-93.
4 Surah 2, 4, 5, 21, 23, 43, 57 and 61. Most of these references appear in the form of repetitions and pairs.
5 This summary recurs in the 5th Surah with slight variations, forming another pair with the verse in Surah 3.
6 For example, this article discusses at length how the Quranic narratives about Jesus and His mother in Surah 19 came into existence.
7 This article examines the errors of the Qur'an concerning the Christian Trinity.
8 This is one of the several articles that discuss and respond to the Islamic claims on the identity of Abraham's son.
9 This topic is further discussed in the Appendix.
10 On this problem, see the article here.
11 It is highly disputable if the content of the medieval Gospel of Barnabas is compatible with the Christian definition of the word “Gospel” - good news - though. This is primarily because fake Barnabas’ assertions concerning the distortion of Jesus’ teachings have nothing to do with the concepts of joy and glad tidings.



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