Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"
6.3 Other Gospels
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The Gospel of Jesus
The Gospel of Barnabas
Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Jesus
Prophets of great missions, like Jesus, always have a revelation from God. And their followers usually keep this revelation. That happened with the Books of Moses. If Jesus did not have a Gospel, can we extend the argument of J. B. Phillips, mentioned above, that Jesus, God forbid, could not handle both his Light and writing or dictating a Gospel! This is what some scholars may conclude regarding the nonexistence of the Gospel of Jesus. However, there are evidences from the Bible that Jesus had a Gospel:
Matthew 4:23 "Jesus went everywhere in the country of Galilee. Jesus taught in the synagogues and preached the Good News about the kingdom of heaven."
Mark 1:14-15 "After this, John was put into prison. Jesus went into Galilee and preached the Good News from God, Jesus said, "The right time is now here. The kingdom of God is near. Change your hearts and lives and believe the Good News"
Romans 1:9 "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of his son". It is interesting to note that "of his son" was changed to the easy phrase "about his son" in the Easy-to-Read version. And what a difference between of and about! This is a clear evidence of what changing the original texts is all about. This is a translation from English to English in a few decades. Imagine what could happen to the translation of Aramaic narratives to Greek text to classical English to Modern English to Easy-To- Read English in two thousand years!
The Good News is the Gospel. There is no doubt that the Good News that Jesus was preaching is not one of the known four Gospels. It is also illogical to assume that Jesus was preaching the Bible according to Luke or John. And the above statements of Jesus clearly mean that Jesus was preaching "his own Gospel," and not a Gospel "according to Jesus." What is interesting is that Paul mentioned the Gospel of Jesus, and he did not refer to any of the four other Gospels, because these Gospels were written after Paul. It is obvious that Jesus had a Gospel, and now that Gospel is not known to anyone. This, of course, raises some serious questions:
Is the Gospel of Jesus the original text that he preached, and everyone else used according to his perception and motive?
Is "Q" the Gospel of Jesus?
Where is this Gospel?
Who destroyed that Gospel and why?
Mental Hospitals and clinics frequently encounter someone claiming to be Jesus Christ. Also, in the West, people claim that they are the promised Messiah, and they get believers, and in most cases the story ends in a tragedy of killing of believers and their alleged Messiah. Sometimes I wonder when the real Jesus comes, looking for his Gospel, how is the world going to receive him? Will he recognize any book in the New Testament? Is he going to be a subject for the psychoanalysts and the TV talk shows? How will the Churches receive him? Will Jesus agree with TV Evangelists that he has the same substance as that of God? What would he say about their wealth, their singing and screaming, and their collecting money from old people to build their own mansions? Will the Churches reject the message of the real Jesus and go back to the Gospels according to the Evangelists? Will the Christians reject him as the Jews rejected him before? Most likely he would be captured and accused of being a terrorist. This is an idea for a successful Hollywood movie.
The Gospel of Barnabas
Barnabas was one of the members of the early Christian church in Jerusalem, and introduced in the New Testament as the "son of consolation" (Acts 4:36). A Levite and a native of Cyprus, Barnabas is credited for having founded the Cypriot church. He was a successful preacher with a charismatic personality. Anyone tormented by the clash of creeds found comfort and peace in his company. His eminence as a man, who had been close to Jesus, had made him a prominent member of the small group of disciples in Jerusalem who had gathered together after Jesus. They observed the Law of the Prophets: Jesus has come, "not to destroy but to fulfill", (Matthew 5:17). They continued to live as Jews, and practiced what Jesus had taught them. The disciples never regarded Christianity as a new religion. They were devout and practicing Jews, and they were distinguished from their neighbors only by accepting the message of Jesus. In the beginning they did not organize themselves as a separate sect and did not have a synagogue of their own. There was nothing in the message of Jesus, as understood by them, to require a break with Judaism. However, they incurred the hostility of the vested interests among the Jewish Rabbis. The conflict started by the Rabbis because they felt that the Christians would undermine their authority and power.
Barnabas introduced Saul of Tarsus, later St. Paul, to the other apostles in Jerusalem. But the disciples "were all afraid of Paul and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the Apostles," (Act 9:26-27). Barnabas accompanied Paul to Antioch, Cyprus, and Asia Minor. At the council held in Jerusalem, Barnabas agreed with Paul's views that the church had a mission for the Gentiles. In Lystra, Paul was said to have performed spiritual healing, so the people coined the terms "Jupiter" for Barnabas, and "Mercurius" for Paul, (Acts 14:12). In the Roman State religion, Jupiter was the supreme god and Mercury was a god that served as a messenger to other gods and was himself the god of commerce, travel, and thievery. He and Paul later separated, however, when Barnabas insisted that his cousin Mark, who had deserted them on a previous journey, should accompany them again. Barnabas and Mark together continued missionary work in Cyprus (Acts 15:39).
The writings attributed to Barnabas have been the source of dispute among biblical scholars. The early Christian writer Tertullian assigned to him the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in accordance with second century church tradition. The apocryphal Acts of Barnabas, a work of late date, recounted his missionary tours and his death by martyrdom in Cyprus. The existing Epistle of Barnabas, found in a New Testament manuscript (part of the Codex Sinaiticus), is morally instructive work.
Some biblical scholars believe that the Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a canonical Gospel in the churches of Alexandria until 325 AD. Irenaeus (130-200) wrote a work against paganism known as "Against the Heresies." He had quoted extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas in support of his views. This proves that the Gospel of Barnabas was in circulation in the first and second centuries of Christianity. In 325 AD, the Nicene Council was held, where it was ordered that all original Gospels in Hebrew script should be destroyed. A decree was issued that anyone in possession of these Gospels would be executed. In 383, the Pope secured a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas and kept it in his private library. In the fourth year of the emperor Zeno (478 AD), the remains of Barnabas were discovered and there was found, on his chest, a copy of the Gospel written with his own hand, (Acia Sanctorum Boland Junii Tom II, pages 422 and 450, Antwerp 1698.) The Vulgate Bible appears to include some sayings from this Gospel. Pope Sixtus (1585-1590) had a friend called Fra Marino. He found the Gospel of Barnabas in the private library of the Pope. Fra Marino was interested in the Gospel because he had read the writings of Irenaeus where Barnabas had been respectfully quoted many times. This Italian manuscript passed through many hands until it came to the possession of Cramer, a Councilor of the King of Prussia. In 1713 Cramer gave it to Prince Eugene in Savoy. In 1738 along with the library of the prince, the Gospel found its way to Vienna, where it now exists. An English translation of this Gospel exists in USA and Europe.
Some Christian Scholars claim that this Gospel has Arabic comments, and was written originally in Arabic. Some even claim that it has an Islamic origin, or was used by Muhammad in writing the Quran. All historical accounts establish that Muhammad was unlettered; that is to say that he could read or write. After Islam, there were debates between Muslims and Christians, and no Muslim ever referred to that Gospel. Therefore, this Gospel was not known in Islamic history. Unless that some scholars claim that Islamic history was corrupted and the usage of this Gospel was concealed! Anyone who studies Islamic history will immediately know that this is one of the many stereotype claims against Islam.
The Gospel of Barnabas differs from the Biblical Gospels in the following basics of the Christian religion:
Jesus is not the Son of God. He was a great prophet.
The sacrifice that Abraham offered to God was Ismael and not Isaac.
The Gospel made clear prophecy about the coming of Muhammad.
Jesus was not crucified. The one that was crucified in Jesus’ place was Judas by another miracle of God.
Gospel of Thomas
Thomas was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. Although much has been written about his life, biblical accounts refer to him three times only in the Gospel of John. The first reference (John 11:15-16) implies Thomas' devotion to Jesus; when Jesus set out for Judea, where Jews have threatened to stone him, Thomas suggests, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." The second reference (John 14:1-7) occurs at the Last Supper, during which Jesus says, "And you know the way where I am going." Thomas asks, "… how can we know the way?" Jesus responds, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." In John (20:19-29), Thomas, absent when Jesus first appears to the apostles after the Resurrection, doubts the others' account of the event. When Jesus appears again and invites Thomas to touch his wounds, the apostle exclaims, "My Lord and my God!" Thus Thomas was the first to explicitly recognize Christ's divinity. The phrase "doubting Thomas" stems from this account.
The Gospel of Thomas was recovered from Naj Hammadi, Egypt. This compilation, written in Coptic, has been translated and published. Major scholarly attention has been focused on the Gospel of Thomas, which suggests that 114 of Jesus’ sayings were delivered privately to Thomas. This Gospel was accepted until late in the second century and rejected at the first ecumenical council of Church.