Gospel of Barnabas: FACT or FAKE?

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What is the "Gospel of Barnabas"?
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Is it a real "gospel" or fabrication?
Dear Mr. Yusuf,
I keep hearing Muslims talking about the "Gospel of Barnabas", but even while studying deeply into Christianity I have never come across something even close to this. As a former Christian missionary, can you shed any light on this topic?
A serious Christian brother


Actually, this is a sad joke on many Muslims. Some have been tricked into believing this has something to do with the New Testament and it is more or less the "Lost Gospel" that will solve all the problems related to the difference between Christianity of today and Islam. But that is all  nonsense, because the so-called "Gospel of Barnabas" is "Bogabas" (fake). The translators of this old  manuscript were not convinced of any authenticity within it.
Active Image Let me start at the beginning. I first heard of this "gospel" just after entering Islam. The topic was thrust on me as though I was supposed to know all about it. And when I claimed ignorance to ever hearing about the "Gospel of Barnabas" I was treated as an outsider or a possible "mole" or "spy". They actually thought I was covering up a secret that all preachers and priests are hiding from the public. No joke.
Anyway, here is what I have learned over the last 17 years about the subject of this topic.
The "Gospel of Barnabas" is taken from a manuscript in the Italian language, although it is said it also had been written in Spanish, both of these would be about 500 years old. The actual surviving manuscript is from the 1700's.
The size is approximately equal to that of all four gospels put together, which in itself makes it very doubtful. The Italian manuscript contained 222 chapters. Fabrications are usually larger, not smaller than originals.
The text within declares it to be written by one of the twelve apostles of Jesus.
Most of the content deals with the mission of Jesus and his message and is quite compatible with all four gospels, another reason to doubt authenticity. Although the synoptic gospels are quite similar in many aspects, scholars have always insisted on Mark being the oldest, and most likely more authentic, and even then Mark is said to have been taken from another, much older document referred to only as "Q". The gospel of St. John is nothing like the others and is held to be in a class by itself by scholars. So, this begs the question; "How did a document all of a sudden surface 1500 years later, in Spanish (just after the time of the Catholic conquest of Muslim Spain in January of 1492) that brings together a melding together of all the gospels and the Quran and offers the same Islamic interpretation of Christian origins, all at the same time?"
Some scholars and academics from both Christians and Muslims have considered this gospel to be late and pseud epigraphical - But, others say it may contain remnants of earlier apocryphal (hidden from the public) work that was likely edited to conform to Islamic teachings, maybe from Gnostic or Ebionite or perhaps Diatessaronic sources. Some Muslim scholars have thought it to be a surviving version of a hidden apostolic original. Some Muslim academics have referred to it in support of their view of Jesus.
There are other works, not related but with similar names and are associated with apocryphal writings. These include the surviving Epistle of Baranabas and Acts of Barabas and even an earlier (unrelated) "Gospel" of Barnabas.
Although there are many "theories" being offered about this document, I seriously doubt it has the necessary credentials to be considered anything more than a very old manuscript that was translated by two people, Lon and Laura Ragg, along with their comments about 100 years ago.
For me, it is not worth the headache to deal with a translation of an old document that no longer exists. This would be similar to trying to "find" an original of the Bible. My mind asks, "Why would Muslims waste their time with this nonsense, when they have the Quran and it is still in the original language, no changes and without human corruption?"
I leave it to you to decide.
Peace brother - and I ask Allah to Guide us all, ameen.
Yusuf Estes


#6 Walid 2013-04-09 22:21
@Mr. ANWAR, I totally AGREE WITH YOU 100%. To dismiss the Gospel of Barnabas is to dismiss the Holy Bible and Taurat and Zabur. I'm actually getting a copy of it to read and where it coordinates with he Holy Qur'an I will take it as the word of God, and where it does not, then we can leave that open as debatable. And what really gets me upset is why Brother Yusuf denies it when he has never read it, and why does he say IT'S NOT REAL, when an entire Gospel was written?? He even dared to say that whomever wrote it was drunk because they drank a lot in those days and fabricated an ENTIRE GOSPEL. That makes ZERO SENSE.
#5 wawin 2012-05-27 22:57
EDITOR: Yusuf Estes says scholars confirmed the so-called Gosple of Barnabas was nothing more than just another of the Hidden Gospels that were not really authentic to start with. Our reader says:
Gospel Of barnabas has being translated many year ago in year 1907 By Lonsdale and Laura Ragg [London, 1907] But why Does't Delivered to christian community something not right there
#4 Anwar 2012-04-14 22:43
We must be concerned with Tauheed mentioned in this Gospel, Rest Wallahu Alam. I always have Christian brothers around me, now if they believe Quran to be the book of GOD than the problem is solved. But this is not the case, so if you say entire Gospel of Barnabas is fake based on no concrete evidence so u r committing the same mistake which is being committed by over enthusiastic Muslims. One side is over excitement and other side denial in such a way that corrupts the mind of the reader to think it is fabricated by Muslims. Further Mr. Yusuf knows that all the teachings of the prophet were in clear alignment with the teachings of our Holy Quran or vice versa, so just because the Gospel of Barnabas is matching to the teachings of Quran YOU HAVE A DOUBT IN YOUR MIND? SubhanALLAH. Of course all the books sent by GOD is not in its original form except QURAN, but this does not give the right to any Muslim to completely deny the book. Believers of Monotheistic ism has never fabricated anything to prove their point. So how can the Muslim fabricate to prove oneness of GOD. I take few of the above statements as hidden allegations.
#3 Luke Montgomery 2012-02-27 10:48
An explosive and courageous novel - a first of its kind - addresses this very issue and the Muslim, especially Turkish, obsession with the Gospel of Barnabas. (sorry Mr. Luke - no links are to be posted here)
#2 Mumtaz Wasif 2011-01-28 01:09
As a revert to Islam, I agree entirely with the views expressed above. An enthusiatic Muslim friend gave me a copy to read. I only had a brief look and it left me completely 'cold'. Whereas the TRINITARIAN school of thought has corrupted the synoptic text one way, the 'opposite' side seem to have done the same with 'Barnabas'.

Let us just stick to the message of Islam from Qur'an & Sunnah. We need no other props or 'Drama'.

Any attempt to prove the veracity of Islam through 'Barnabas' will only backfire very badly.

... as Caliph Umar said, 'Hasbuna Kitab Allah'

#1 Zaka Haq 2010-11-17 07:48
Dear Brother Yousuf,__First of all I would like to thank Allah, Ta'la Who Has been extremely Merciful Most Gracious Who guided HIS people those who seek guidance. You have have been blessed in the right direction. I agree with you that we Muslims should only depend upon the FINAL TRUTH (Arabic) Qur'an and authentic sayings of the Last Messenger (and Prophet) Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah, the Almighty be upon him). Your thinking is correct, precise and in the right direction. If we use Gospel of Barnabas in Dawah, it does not make sense particularly if its not completely in consonance with the Holy Qur'an. Thus Gospel of Barnabas will neither satisfy a Muslim nor a Christian. Allah Ta'ala repeatedly reminds the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) by delivering clear messages in Holy Qur'an. We should make best use of those Ayahs (verses) as these are excellent for Dawah' originated by the Creator - Allah. However, Bible references (Not Gospel of Barnabas) are also great for quoting since Christians believe in Bible and not in Qur'an. I would say the one of the best verses along with other verses to quote is that needs to be explained to Christians, is 5:14 of Holy Qur'an, so they may be convinced that Original INJEEL is lost or missing

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