c) The Mediaeval Environment of the Gospel
The author of the Gospel of Barnabas claims to have been with Jesus throughout his ministry and accordingly must have walked with him throughout the land of Palestine during those three years that Jesus served the people of Israel. In the circumstances we would expect to find a first-century, Palestinian environment in his book - such as we find in the four true Gospels of the Christian Bible. But we are astonished to find many incidents which betray a mediaeval, western-European background in the Gospel of Barnabas. Firstly we read:
This is a fair description of Spain or Italy in summer but most certainly not of Palestine where the rain falls in winter and where the fields are parched in summer. In any event Palestine has always been a part of the world where cultivation of the land has required much effort and where much of the countryside is barren and grassless. We find it surprising that this land should be appealed to as one which in summer-time is a good example of the delightful environment of Paradise. Indeed Jesus is alleged to have delivered this discourse to his disciples in the wilderness beyond the Jordan (page 211) where they were hardly likely to have any evidence of the glories of the lush gardens of Paradise.
Again we read in the Gospel of Barnabas that Martha, her sister Mary, and her brother Lazarus were the overlords of two towns, Magdala and Bethany (page 242). This proprietorship of villages and towns belongs to the Middle Ages when the system of feudalism was rooted in European society. Certainly no such practice was known at the time of Jesus when the occupying Roman forces controlled most of the land of Palestine.
These anachronisms rule out any possibility that the Gospel of Barnabas is genuinely what it claims to be. It does well appear to be a forgery of the Middle Ages written by a Muslim who, probably frustrated at being unable to prove that the true Gospels in the Bible are corrupted, wrote a false Gospel and proclaimed that his corruption was the truth! A similar example of the mediaeval environment of this Gospel is the reference in it to wine casks (page 196), for wine was stored in skins in Palestine (Matthew 9:17) while wooden casks were used in Europe in the Middle Ages.
In conclusion, however, it must be pointed out that whereas the author of the Gospel of Barnabas reveals in his book that he has an accurate knowledge of the structure of mediaeval society, he simultaneously exposes his ignorance of the land of Palestine which he is supposed to have traversed as a disciple of Jesus for at least three years! He says:
In this passage Nazareth is represented as a coastal city, a harbor on the lake of Galilee. After this we read that Jesus “went up to Capernaum” (page 23) from Nazareth, as though Capernaum was in the hillside near the sea of Galilee. Here the author really has his facts incorrect, for Capernaum was the coastal city and Nazareth was up in the hills (where it is to this day). Jesus would have gone up from Capernaum to Nazareth, not the other way around as the author of the Gospel of Barnabas has it. This evidence also shows that the author of the Gospel of Barnabas lived in Europe in the Middle Ages rather than in Palestine at the time of Jesus.