A STUDY OF THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS
Although the Gospel of Barnabas has in recent years been distributed fairly widely throughout the Muslim world in many languages, most Muslims have not as yet seen a copy of this book. Nevertheless the knowledge of its existence is fairly widespread in the Muslim community.
Since 1973 the English translation of the Gospel of Barnabas by Lonsdale and Laura Ragg has been reprinted in large numbers by the Begum Aisha Bawany Wakf in Pakistan and a number of these reprints have come into worldwide circulation. The general position, however, is that most Muslims remain largely ignorant of the book and its contents as a whole.
It has been a blissful ignorance. For too long many Muslims have been persuaded that this book tells the ultimate truth about the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. It alleges that Jesus was not the Son of God, that he was not crucified, and that he foretold the coming of Muhammad. As a result some Muslims believe that this is the true Injil that was given to Jesus. The Gospel of Barnabas, however, does not claim to be the Injil but actually distinguishes itself from the book allegedly given to Jesus. In the following passage we find this distinction very clearly brought out:
Other Muslims believe that the Gospel of Barnabas is the “original testament” and that the Christians have substituted it with the “New Testament”. Such an attitude betrays a woeful ignorance, not only of the Gospel of Barnabas, but also of the structure of the Christian Bible as a whole.
Because we are persuaded, however, that ignorance is a great evil - no matter how blissful it may be - and because ignorance is the handmaid of error, we deem it necessary to set out the true facts about the Gospel of Barnabas so that it may be clear to Muslim peoples everywhere that this book is a patent forgery of the Middle Ages and that the Muslims will be doing the cause of truth a great service by admitting once and for all that the Gospel of Barnabas is of no historical value at all and that it is to be rejected as a genuine account of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.
This booklet does not purport to be a contribution to the ongoing scholarly study that is being conducted in the Christian world into the background and origins of the Gospel of Barnabas. For this we are chiefly indebted to the Raggs, who first translated the Gospel into English, and to men like Gairdner, Jomier and Slomp who have gone to great lengths in the cause of truth to provide substantial evidence of the falsehood of the Gospel of Barnabas. Rather we have endeavored to produce here in summary form some of the clear proofs which have come from these studies so that our Muslim friends may see that the Gospel of Barnabas is a forgery which has become a lamentable red-herring across the trail of Christian-Muslim apologetics in the modern world.
It has been our purpose in some small measure to convey to the Muslim community worldwide some of the fruits of these studies. We have done this purely because we believe that it is deeply regrettable that men should believe that this book is a true account of the life of Jesus Christ.
Because we believe that no lover of truth will wish to be deluded by a counterfeit for long, we have elected to reveal briefly to our Muslim readers some of the origins and sources of the Gospel of Barnabas. We trust that our readers will peruse this booklet with a genuine desire to know where the Gospel of Barnabas really came from and when it was really written - and that they will draw a fair conclusion from the evidence set forth in the following pages of this booklet.