Yeshu ha-Notsri as founder of Christianity–Pt. 7: Not of the world

Talmudic records relate, as we have seen, that the nasi Joshua ben Perachiah excommunicated Yeshu ha-Notsri (literally, “Jesus the Nazarene”) on their way back from exile in Alexandria, Egypt, probably in 76 BCE, the year that the anti-Pharisee King Janneus died and his pro-Pharisee wife Salome Alexandra ascended to the throne. If we combine Ibn Daud’s chronology with what we learn from Talmudic passages, it appears that Yeshu was twenty-four years old at the time. Yeshu would not have been able to return to Israel with impunity. After all, excommunication is not merely a ban from pharisaism—it is the final, complete, and irrevocable expulsion from Judaism. For a young man raised in the entourage of the Sanhedrin (his association with … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chp. 77

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         Jesus’ explanations related to The Parable of the Three Vinedressers 44a. [Jesus said] “Truly I say to you, that on the day of judgement many will say to God, ‘Lord, we have preached and taught according to Your law.’ Against them even the stones will cry out, saying ‘When you preached to others, with your own tongue you condemned yourselves, O workers of iniquity.’      “As God lives,” continued Jesus, “he who knows the truth and yet works the contrary will be punished with such grievous penalty that Satan himself will be moved with compassion for him. Tell me, now, has our God given us the law for knowing or for … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chp. 76

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         The Parable of the Three Vinedressers 43. [Jesus said] “I will give you an example. There was a man who had three vineyards which he let out to three vinedressers. Now, the first vinedresser did not even know how to cultivate a vineyard, and it brought forth nothing more than leaves.      “The second vinedresser taught the third how the vines ought to be cultivated. And the third vinedresser carefully listened and cultivated his vineyard as he was instructed, so that his vineyard bore much fruit.      “Now, though the second vinedresser instructed the third, he left his own vineyard uncultivated, spending his time solely in talking.      “When the time came to … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chps. 73–75

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         36. “The flesh of man loves sin as he who has fever loves water.”        [LXXIII:75a, p. 169] COMMENT: An encratite saying (< Gk. egkrates, “continence”). Encratism does not exist in noarmative Judaism, as defined by the writings in the Tanakh (the “Old Testament,” in which the enjoyment of all of God’s creation—including of the body and of sexuality—is celebrated). However, encratism came to the Levant about the turn of the era and, indeed, it arrived at about the same time as the origins of Christianity. To understand the roots of encratism is most instructive, for those roots are clearly in far distant Buddhism. After all, nothing in the Levant—neither Judaism nor … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chps. 65–72

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         30. [Jesus] said, “The flesh attracts sin and sucks up iniquity even as a sponge sucks up water.”        [LXVI:68b, p. 155] • No parallel. COMMENT: Because ‘the flesh’ is irretrievably sinful, the implications of this logion are the way of asceticism: denial, renunciation of pleasure, and mortification of the flesh. This religious view is known as encratism (< Gk. egkrateia, continence). It had a profound effect on early Christianity, as witnessed not only by the many encratite logia found even in the canonical gospels (Mt 5:28 etc), but by works such as the apocryphal acts of the apostles (Acts of Thomas, Paul, etc) and the many encratite tractates from the Nag … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chps. 43–64

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         21. [His disciples asked Jesus] “Who is a hypocrite? Tell us plainly.”         “Truly I say to you that he who does good in order that men may see him, he is a hypocrite. For his deed does not proceed from the heart that men cannot see, where exist every unclean thought and filthy lust.         “And do you know who is a hypocrite? He who with his tongue serves God but with his heart serves man… As God lives, and in whose presence I stand, the hypocrite is a thief who commits sacrilege, inasmuch as he makes use of the law to appear good, but steals the honor of God to … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chp. 42

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         The Transfiguration 20.        And having said this, Jesus departed and went to a Mount Tabor, and there ascended with him Peter and James and John his brother, with him who writes this. Whereupon there shone a great light above him, and his garments became white like snow and his face glistened as the sun, and lo! there came Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus b concerning all that needs must come upon our race and upon the holy city.         Peter spoke, saying “Lord, it is good to be here. Therefore, if you will, let us make here three booths, one for you and one for Moses and the other for Elijah.” And … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chps. 36–42

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         32.         Truly I say to you that very few make true prayer, and therefore Satan has power over them, because God does not seek those who honor him with their lips, who in the temple ask with their lips for mercy while their heart cries out for retribution. Even as He said to Isaiah the prophet, saying ‘Take away this people that is irksome to me, because with their lips they honor me, but their heart is far from me.’ Truly I say to you that he who goes to make prayer without consideration mocks God.”        [XXXVI:38b, p. 85] 33.         The disciples wept at the words of Jesus and besought … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Chps. 22–32

[Click HERE for the color coding scheme. Opens a separate tab.]         20.    Jesus answered, “Truly I say to you that a dog is better than an uncircumcised man.”         [XXII:21b, p. 45] 21. “And therefore if the flesh hinders the service of God it ought to be spurned like clay and trampled on, for he that hates his soul in this world will keep it to life eternal.”         [XXIII:23a, p. 49]         • Mk 9:43 & par.; Jn 12:25.                   COMMENT: Cf. Marcionite dualism. 22. Jesus answered, “Keep your flesh like a horse, and you will live securely. For food is given to a horse by measure, yet labor without measure; and the bridle is put on a horse that it … Continue reading

The Gospel of Barnabas—Introduction

For a long time I have been wanting to write a series of posts on the astonishing and virtually unknown Gospel of Barnabas. As is so frequent in early Christian studies, there is a reason for this seminal gospel’s obscurity—suppression. The enormously long, quite elaborate, and emphatically ‘Christian’ gospel came to my attention some five years ago. Though GBar has existed in two versions and in two languages (Italian and Spanish) since the Renaissance, it’s obscurity—half a millennium later—is still virtually total. Have you heard of it? I thought not. This is the introductory post to a series of what I imagine will extend to 20+ posts. My aim is not to give an extended assessment, or even description, of … Continue reading