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

The ancient battle over ‘fake news’: the heroes Judas and Thomas become villains

In this post I present some very brief reflections on the Gospel of Thomas. Thomas the Twin. Thomas was the quintessential messenger of truth in early Christian gnosticism. The name appears twice in the Gospel of Thomas, once in the title at the end of the work, and once in Saying 13, where Thomas outshines both Peter and Matthew: Jesus says to his disciples: “Compare me, and tell me whom I am like.” Simon Peter says to him, “You are like a just angel!” Matthew says to him, “You are like a wise man and a philosopher!” Thomas says to him, “Master, my tongue cannot find words to say whom you are like.” Jesus says, “I am no longer your … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 35)

→ Table of Contents The ever-present Jesus In a brief section of his paper (pp. 59–61), Dr. Detering draws attention to the short Epistle of Jude, a second century pseudepigraphic writing claiming authorship by Jesus of Nazareth’s brother, Judas (cf. Mk 6:3; Mt 13:55). In the fifth verse, most manuscripts have “Lord” (kurios), others “God” (theos), and—most remarkably—a few manuscripts have Iésous. The verse reads: Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, that Iésous, who once for all saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. Detering maintains that preference goes to the reading Iésous, as above, for this is the lectio dificilior. If one goes along with this … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 34)

→ Table of Contents The Didache—Pt. 4 The spiritual Jesus I have argued on this website that “Jesus” in the first century CE (before appearance of the canonical gospels) was spiritual, not material (see here and here). As so much in Jesus mythicism, the consequences of this thesis are far too provocative for mainstream scholarship. After all, a first century ‘spiritual’ Jesus strikes at the very heart of Christianity and gives the lie to the very existence of Jesus of Nazareth. So today this view of an early spiritual Jesus—graphically recorded in the Christian apocrypha and in some gnostic tractates—lives only in the outer reaches of the Internet. The great irony is that, while Christians are forever desiring to recover earliest … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 33)

→ Table of Contents The Didache—Part 3 We have now arrived at page 56 of Dr. Hermann Detering’s remarkable essay, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus and the Beginnings of the Joshua/Jesus Cult.” Detering breaks a great deal of new ground and, as in such cases, the points made in his piece will require testing and some will certainly require adjustment. Were an essay of equal significance written more friendly to the Christian tradition, I suspect that it would immediately find publication and would probably also secure a book contract with a mainline publisher. Like so much good mythicist work carried on today, however, Detering’s works languish largely in obscurity, and he has long since accustomed himself to a scholarly career … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 31)

→ Table of Contents The Didache (Pt. 1) Dr. Detering points out that the Didache (“Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”) is a Church manual discovered only in 1873. “Majority opinion holds that it dates to the early second century,” he writes, reflecting the somewhat more progressive European scholarship. (American scholarship largely dates the work to I CE.) Kurt Niederwimmer (Vienna), author of the 1992 Hermeneia commentary The Didache, writes (p. 53): “An origin around 110 to 120 C.E. remains hypothetical, but there are as yet no compelling reasons to dismiss this hypothesis.” Also in agreement with Niederwimmer, Detering considers that the document is based on Jewish Vorlagen and was given only a superficial Christian veneer. Detering (p. 54) cites three passages … Continue reading