What do we know about the “Gospel of Barnabas”?

Ever so often, Muslims mention the “Gospel of Barnabas”. What are the reasons that nearly everybody, who has studied it (including many Islamic scholars), believe that the is a forgery from the Middle ages? The below references should give you enough material to ponder if you donít believe it.


The Muslim scholar Cyril Glassť states:

As regards the "Gospel of Barnabas" itself, there is no question that it is a medieval forgery. A complete Italian manuscript exists which appears to be a translation from a Spanish original (which exists in part), written to curry favor with Muslims of the time. It contains anachronisms which can date only from the Middle Ages and not before, and shows a garbled comprehension of Islamic doctrines, calling the Prophet "the Messiah", which Islam does not claim for him. Besides its farcical notion of sacred history, stylistically it is a mediocre parody of the Gospels, as the writings of Baha'Allah are of the Koran.

The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Harper & Row, 1989, p. 64


A concise discussion of the main issues is Samuel Green's article The Gospel of Barnabas

Often there is confusion between the "Gospel" of Barnabas and the "Epistle" of Barnabas in writings of Muslim authors.
The Epistle of Barnabas (the text).

Is "Barnabas" genuine? (various aspects)

Further books or articles on the "Gospel of Barnabas":

  • The Gospel of Barnabas (by Norman L. Geisler & Abdul Saleeb)
  • The Gospel of Barnabas: Why Muslims Shouldn't Use It examines the common assumptions Muslims make about the GoB
  • The Gospel of Barnabas: The Spurious Gospel in Islamic Apologetics (by John Gilchrist)
  • The Claim that the "Gospel of Barnabas" is the True Gospel
  • Contradictions between the Qur'an and the "Gospel of Barnabas"
  • Contradictions of the GoB with itself
  • Origins and Sources of the Gospel of Barnabas by John Gilchrist
  • The Gospel of Barnabas by Gerhard Nehls
  • The Gospel of Barnabas (by Rafique)
  • The Gospel of Barnabas (off site)
  • The Forgery of the Gospel of Barnabas (off site)
  • Dr. William F. Campbell
    The Gospel of Barnabas: Its True Value
    112 pages
    Published in Pakistan and in the USA only available from

    Middle East Resources
    P.O. Box 96
    Upper Darby PA 19082
    for the price of $4.50 + $2.00 shipping

    (Contact Dr. Campbell)

    A Muslim started to write another list of contradictions between "Barnabas" and the Qur'an in a series of articles: [Part 1], [but], [he], [never], [even], [got], [to], [part], [2].

  • The "Gospel of Barnabas" in recent research (Jan Slomp)
    gives a thorough discussion on the various possibilities of authorship
  • Has the True Gospel of Jesus Been Found? [HTML, PDF] (Dr. Christine Schirrmacher)
  • Postings from the Christian newsgroup on the Gospel of Barnabas
  • Excerpts of a discussion on the Islamic newsgroup
  • The following is an excerpt from another newsgroup posting:

    Sox, David
    The Gospel of Barnabas
    London; Boston: George Allen & Unwin, 198, 152 pages
    ISBN 0-04-200044-0
    LC call number: BS2860.B4 S6

    The 'Gospel of Barnabas' was translated into English by Lonsdale and Laura Ragg from Italian scripts a long time ago and it is widely available.

    Ragg, Lonsdale, 1866-1945
    Ragg, Laura Marie (Roberts)
    The Gospel of Barnabas
    LC call number: BS2860.B4 A3

    The Gospel of Barnabas document is not accepted as being authentic by reputable historians. The critical introduction of the Ragg book and the acutely perceptive book by Sox identify many of the inaccuracies. Sox, who has also written books about the Shroud of Turin, religious relics, and art forgeries, presents a particularly well done analysis. These two books are available through the inter-library loan service.


    For those who read German:

      Heinz-Lothar Barth: Christus und Mohammed. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit 
      dem Islam aus christlicher Sicht. - Teil I, Stuttgart (Germany) 1995.
    
    A detailed insight into muslim propaganda using the "Gospel of Barnabas" 
    is given to German readers in the book:
    
      Christine Schirrmacher: Mit den Waffen des Gegners. 
      Christlich-muslimische Kontroversen im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. - 
      Berlin 1992  
    
    Especially one may consult the chapter "Muslimische Stellungnahmen zur 
    Verteidigung des Barnabas-Evangeliums" (pages 329-352). The book ends 
    with an ample list of literature.
    
    Schirrmacher points to a number of evidences for a fake in the late 
    middle ages, as at least partly does Abdul Saleeb in his above linked to 
    chapter: Erroneous geographic conceptions (Jesus sailes from Kapharnaum 
    to Nazareth and from lake Genezareth to Jeruslam by ship), striking 
    parallels to Dante's Divina Comedia etc.
    

    Part of the above is mentioned in her English web article The influence of German Biblical criticism on Muslim apologetics in the 19th century (about the middle of the article you will find the GoB discussion)

    The main issue in the Muslim-Christian controversy is the question whether the GoB is an authentic document from the first century by an actual disciple of Jesus. Since it is clearly not, we can learn little from the document about the actual person and teaching of Jesus and the GoB loses all propaganda value for Muslims. However, it is an interesting document about history of the Muslim-Christian interaction in the Middle Ages. Rodney Blackhirst's studies The Medieval Gospel of Barnabas might be of interest to some in this regard. Moreover, he is now convinced to have solved the mystery of when, why and by whom the GoB was composed.


    Of related interest: The Gospel of Barnabas and the Book of Mormon (comparative analysis of reasons speaking against their authenticity)


    Muslim pages about the Gospel of Barnabas (pro GoB):

  • Gospel of Barnabas: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18]
  • A Muslim Foundation invests to vigorously propagate the GoB giving it even a own web site
  • GoB in Arabic, English, and French

  • Answering Islam Home Page