He has therefore abolished these things that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is without yoke of necessity, might have a human oblation.
Reputedly Died in 61 in Salamis, Cyprus
“In the case of Barnabas,. . . he has totally disassociated Israel from the precepts of the Old Testament. In fact he specifically designates the Church to be the heir of the covenantal promises made to Israel (4:6-7; 13:1-6; 14:4 -5).”
- 0075: The Epistle of Barnabas “Again, it was revealed how the city and the temple and the people of Israel should be betrayed. For the scripture saith; and it shall be in the last days, that the Lord shall deliver up the sheep of the pasture and the fold and the tower thereof to destruction. And it so happened as the Lord had spoken. “
- 2013: Ed Stevens, Hebrews Corrects Barnabas “the book of Hebrews seems to have been written as a corrective, in response to the epistle of Barnabas, and probably sent to the same churches that the epistle of Barnabas was sent, using John Mark as the courier.”
Acts 13: 46: “Then Paul and barnabas waxed bold, and said (to the Jews), It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”
(On The Significance of AD70)
Again, it was revealed how the city and the temple and the people of Israel should be betrayed. For the scripture saith; and it shall be in the last days, that the Lord shall deliver up the sheep of the pasture and the fold and the tower thereof to destruction. And it so happened as the Lord had spoken. (Epistle)
(On Fulfillment of Prophecy)
“Moreover understand this also, my brothers. When ye see that after so many signs and wonders wrought in Israel, even then they were abandoned, let us give heed, lest haply we be found, as the scripture saith, many called but few chosen. . .” (4:14)
“Therefore the Son of God came in the flesh to this end, that He might sum up the complete tale of their sins against those who persecuted and slew His prophets.” (5:11)
(On Fulfillment of the Sabbath)
“Finally he says to them: “I cannot bear your new moons and Sabbaths.” You see what he means: it is not the present Sabbaths that are acceptable to me, but the one that I have made; on that Sabbath, after I have set everything at rest, I will create the beginning of an eighth day, which is the beginning of another world. This is why we spend the eighth day in celebration, the day on which Jesus both rose from the dead and, after appearing again, ascended into heaven.“
(On the “Israel of God”)
CHAP. XIII.–CHRISTIANS, AND NOT JEWS, THE HEIRS OF THE COVENANT. “Now let us see whether this people or the first people hath the inheritance, and whether the covenant had reference to us or to them. Hear ye now what the Scripture saith concerning the people. Isaac prayed for Rebecca his wife, because she was barren; and she conceived.(22) Furthermore also, Rebecca went forth to inquire of the Lord; and the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples in thy belly; and the one people shall surpass the other, and the eider shall serve the younger.”(23) You ought to understand who was Isaac, who Rebecca, and concerning what persons He declared that this people should be greater than that. And in another prophecy Jacob speaks more clearly to his son Joseph, saying, “Behold, the Lord hath not deprived me of thy presence; bring thy sons to me, that I may bless them.”(24) And he brought Manasseh and Ephraim, desiring that Manasseh(25) should be blessed, because he was the eider. With this view Joseph led him to the right hand of his father Jacob. But Jacob saw in spirit the type of the people to arise afterwards. And what says [the Scripture]? And Jacob changed the direction of his bands, and laid his fight hand upon the head of Ephraim, the second and younger, and blessed him. And Joseph said to Jacob, “Transfer thy right hand to the head of Manasseh,(25) for he is my first-born son.”(26) And Jacob said, “I know it, my son, I know it; but the eider shall serve the younger: yet he also shall be blessed.”(27) Ye see on whom he laid(28) [his hands], that this people should be first, and heir of the covenant. If then, still further, the same thing was intimated through Abraham, we reach the perfection of our knowledge. What, then, says He to Abraham? “Because thou hast believed,(1) it is imputed to thee for righteousness: behold, I have made thee the father of those nations who believe in the Lord while in [a state of] uncircumcision.” (Barnabas 13:1)
(On the Temple of God in the Last Days)
“Moreover I will tell you likewise concerning the temple, how these wretched men being led astray set their hope on the building, and not on their God that made them, as being a house of God. . . . So it cometh to pass; for because they went to war it was pulled down by their enemies. . . . Again, it was revealed how the city and the temple and the people of Israel should be betrayed. For the scripture saith; and it shall be in the last days, that the Lord shall deliver up the sheep of the pasture and the fold and the tower thereof to destruction. And it so happened as the Lord had spoken. ” (Barnabas 16:3-4)
“Moreover, He again says, ‘Behold, they who have cast down this temple, even they shall build it up again.’ It has so happened. For through their going to war, it was destroyed by their enemies; and now, they, as the servants of their enemies, shall rebuild it… Let us inquire, then, if there still is a temple of God. There is – where He himself declared He would make and finish it. For it is written, ‘And it shall come to pass, when the week is completed, the temple of God shall be built in glory in the name of the Lord.’ I find, therefore, that a temple does exist. Learn, then, how it shall be built in the name of the Lord… Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, namely this, when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eight day, that is, a beginning of another world.” (Epistle of barnabas)
(On Daniel’s Seventy Weeks)
“This abstract discussion of Judaism is the sign of an epoch when the Judaizing controversies were already a thing of the past in the main body of the Church. In settling the date of the letter reference is often made to verses 3-5 of chapter four, where the writer, it is believed, finds the fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel (Dan. 7:7, sqq.) in the succession of the Roman Emperors of his time.” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia)
DATING OF THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS
John A.T. Robinson (1976)
“The central vision of II Esdras 3-14 dates itself (and there is no good reason to doubt it) in the year 100, cin the thirtieth year after the fall of Jerusalem* (3.1), and the contrast with the perspective of Revelation could hardly be greater. In this book, as in I and II Baruch, the Epistie of Barnabas and the Sibylline Oracles, there arc unmistakable allusions to the destruction of Jerusalem.138 In Revelation there arc none at all — in fact just the opposite. And whereas in II Esdras the tally of kings to date is twelve, and in the Epistle of Barnabas ten, in Revelation the sixth is still reigning. Yet we are asked to believe by those who hold to a Domitianic date that Revelation and II Esdras are virtually contemporary.” (Redating the New Testament, p. 247)
“The third assumption I would mention primarily concerns authorship, though it regularly recurs in conjunction with dating. This is that there was an indefinite number of totally unrecorded and unremembered figures in the history of early Christianity who have left absolutely no mark except as the supposed authors of much of its greatest literature. This creates relatively minor problems when the writings in question are either anonymous or of secondary significance. Thus, who wrote the Epistie of Barnabas or II Clement or even the epistle to the Hebrews can ultimately be left unanswered without the overall picture being affected – though it is noticeable that all attempts to answer these questions in die early church turned upon names, like those of Paul or Luke, Barnabas or Clement, that we have already heard of: no one thought to postulate ex nihilo some forgotten spiritual genius. (Even the ghostly figure of John the Elder is not recorded in the tradition as the author of anything. Eusebius merely guessed that he might have written the Apocalypse: Dionysius was more judicious.) It is when we are dealing with the conjuring out of thin air of major theologians or spiritual giants, like the authors of the fourth gospel and the epistle to the Ephesians, who not only died as if they had never been but also claimed to be the apostles who overshadowed them, that credibility begins to be stretched.” (p. 347)
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
“This abstract discussion of Judaism is the sign of an epoch when the Judaizing controversies were already a thing of the past in the main body of the Church. In settling the date of the letter reference is often made to verses 3-5 of chapter four, where the writer, it is believed, finds the fulfilment of the prophecy of Daniel (Dan. 7:7, sqq.) in the succession of the Roman Emperors of his time.
“Starting from this, some critics place the composition of the epistle in the reign of Vespasian, others in the reign of Domitian, and still others in the reign of Nerva. But there is nothing to prove that the author considers the prophecy to be already accomplished. Besides, he might have taken the words of the prophecy to mean a series of kingdoms instead of a line of kings. It is necessary, therefore, to fall back on verses 3-5 of chapter xvi. Reference is here made to the command given by Adrian in A.D. 130 for the reconstruction, in honour of Jupiter, of the Temple at Jerusalem, which had been destroyed by Titus. Adrian had also forbidden the Jews to practise circumcision. The writer of the letter makes allusion to this (ch. ix, 4). The epistle must, consequently, have been written in A.D. 130-131.” (New Advent)
John Dominic Crossan quotes Koester as stating that New Testament writings are used “neither explicitly nor tacitly” in the Epistle of Barnabas and that this “would argue for an early date, perhaps even before the end of I C.E.” Crossan continues (The Cross that Spoke, p. 121):
Richardson and Shukster have also argued for a first-century date. Among several arguments they point to the detail of “a little king, who shall subdue three of the kings under one” and “a little crescent horn, and that it subdued under one three of the great horns” in Barnabas 4:4-5. They propose a composition “date during or immediately after the reign of Nerva (96-8 C.E.) . . . viewed as bringing to an end the glorious Flavian dynasty of Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian . . . when a powerful, distinguished, and sucessful dynasty was brought low, humiliated by an assassin’s knife” (33, 40).
In 16:3-4, the Epistle of Barnabas says: “Furthermore he says again, ‘Lo, they who destroyed this temple shall themselves build it.’ That is happening now. For owing to the war it was destroyed by the enemy; at present even the servants of the enemy will build it up again.” This clearly places Barnabas after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE. But it also places Barnabas before the Bar Kochba revolt in 132 CE, after which there could have been no hope that the Romans would help to rebuild the temple. This shows that the document comes from the period between these two revolts.
Jay Curry Treat states on the dating of Barnabas (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, v. 1, pp. 613-614):
Since Barnabas 16:3 refers to the destruction of the temple, Barnabas must be written after 70 C.E. It must be written before its first undisputable use in Clement of Alexandria, ca. 190. Since 16:4 expects the temple to be rebuilt, it was most likely written before Hadrian built a Roman temple on the site ca. 135. Attempts to use 4:4-5 and 16:1-5 to specify the time of origin more exactly have not won wide agreement. It is important to remember that traditions of varying ages have been incoprorated into this work.
Treat comments on the provenance of the Epistle of Barnabas (op. cit., p. 613):
Barnabas does not give enough indications to permit confident identification of either the teacher’s location or the location to which he writes. His thought, hermeneutical methods, and style have many parallels throughout the known Jewish and Christian worlds. Most scholars have located the work’s origin in the area of Alexandria, on the grounds that it has many affinities with Alexandrian Jewish and Christian thought and because its first witnesses are Alexandrian. Recently, Prigent (Prigent and Kraft 1971: 20-24), Wengst (1971: 114-18), and Scorza Barcellona (1975: 62-65) have suggested other origins based on affinities in Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor. The place of origin must remain an open question, although the Gk-speaking E. Mediterranean appears most probable.
Concerning the relationship between Barnabas and the New Testament, Treat writes (op. cit., p. 614):
Although Barnabas 4:14 appears to quote Matt 22:14, it must remain an open question whether the Barnabas circle knew written gospels. Based on Koester’s analysis (1957: 125-27, 157), it appears more likely that Barnabas stood in the living oral tradition used by the written gospels. For example, the reference to gall and vinegar in Barnabas 7:3, 5 seems to preserve an early stage of tradition that influenced the formation of the passion narratives in the Gospel of Peter and the synoptic gospels.
USE OF SYMBOLISM / ALLEGORY
God’s Church Throughout the Ages
“barnabas of Alexandria, not to be confused with the Apostle barnabas, in his epistle written about 130 A.D., alleges that the Old Testament is an allegory and not intended to be understood literally. He regards the prohibitions of the law against eating unclean meats as an allegory of the type of people that Christians should avoid(Epistle of barnabas, 10). He also seeks to allegorize the Sabbath and states, “We keep the eighth day for rejoicing in the which also Jesus rose from the dead…” (Epistle of barnabas, 15). ” (A Theology of New Truth?)
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
“He shows how the ordinances of the Law should be understood as referring allegorically to the Christian virtues and institutions, and he pauses to make plain by a series of symbolical explanations, that are often singular, how the Old Testament prefigures Christ, His Passion, His Church, etc. Before concluding (ch. xxi) the author repeats and enlarges the exhortations of the first part of the epistle by borrowing from another document (the Didache or its source) the description of the two ways, the way of light and that of darkness (xviii-xx).”
“The epistle is characterized by the use of exaggerated allegory. In this particular the writer goes far beyond St. Paul the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and St. Ignatius. Not content with regarding the history and institutions of the Jews as containing types of Christianity, he casts aside completely the transitory historical character of the old religion. According to many scholars he teaches that it was never intended that the precepts of the Law should be observed in their literal sense, that the Jews never had a covenant with God, that circumcision was the work of the Devil, etc.; thus he represents a unique point of view in the struggle against Judaism. It might be said more exactly that he condemns the exercise of worship by the Jews in its entirety because in his opinion, the Jews did not know how to rise to the spiritual and typical meaning which God had mainly had in view in giving them the Law. It is this purely material observance of the ceremonial ordinances, of which the literal fulfilment was not sufficient, that the author holds to be the work of the Devil, and, according to him, the Jews never received the divine covenant because they never understood its nature (ch. vii, 3, 11, ix, 7; x, 10; xiv).” (New Advent)
7,000 YEAR PLAN OF GOD
“The 7,000 year plan of God has been consistent with Jewish thought for thousands of years. The apostle barnabas who was a partner in ministry to the Apostle Paul (Rav/Rabbi Sha’ul/Paul) (Acts 13:2, Acts 14:14). The Epistle of barnabas written in the 1st Century explicitly tied the 7 days of creation to Psalm 90:4 and the 7,000 year plan of God. (See the handout of the epistle of barnabas; barnabas 13:3-6)” (God’s 7,000 Year Plan)
Barnabas 13:3-6, 9
” (3) And in the beginning of the creation he makes mention of the sabbath. And God made in six days the works of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and rested the seventh day, and sanctified it. (4) Consider, my children, what that signifies, he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. (5) For with him one day is as a thousand years; as himself testifieth, saying, Behold this day shall be as a thousand years. Therefore children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, that all things shall be accomplished. (6) And what is that he saith, And he rested the seventh day: he meaneth this; that when his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and judge the ungodly; and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars; and he shall gloriously rest in that seventh day. -snip- (9) Lastly he saith unto them; Your new moons and your sabbaths I cannot bear them. Consider what he means by it; the sabbaths, says he, which ye now keep are not acceptable unto me, but those which I have made; when resting from all things I shall begin the eighth day, that is, the beginning of the other world.”
“At first, the Christian community expected an imminent return of Christ .. This hope carried on in the second century. When the second coming failed to occur, the church organized itself as a permanent institution under the leadership of its bishops. This, however, did not stop the predictions of “the second coming” .. Muslims too believe in the second coming of Jesus (pbuh). However, Muslims are told that Jesus (pbuh) was not forsaken by God to the Jews to be killed, rather, he was raised by God and it was made to appear to those present that he was crucified (Jesus’ apostle barnabas tells us that it was Judas the traitor who was taken to be crucified) [See : Qur’an 4:155-157]. Muslims are also told that he will not return to earth until just before the end of time, and not that he will return before the death of his own generation, as stated above.” [Answering Christianity.com “The Ultimate Test of Jesus: Jesus’ second coming and ‘grace.’]
“At first, the Christian community expected an imminent return of Christ .. This hope carried on in the second century. When the second coming failed to occur, the church organized itself as a permanent institution under the leadership of its bishops. This, however, did not stop the predictions of “the second coming” .. Muslims too believe in the second coming of Jesus (pbuh). However, Muslims are told that Jesus (pbuh) was not forsaken by God to the Jews to be killed, rather, he was raised by God and it was made to appear to those present that he was crucified (Jesus’ apostle barnabas tells us that it was Judas the traitor who was taken to be crucified) [See below: Qur’an 4:155-157]. Muslims are also told that he will not return to earth until just before the end of time, and not that he will return before the death of his own generation, as stated above.” [Answering Christianity.com “The Ultimate Test of Jesus: Jesus’ second coming and ‘grace.’]
YUSUFALI: (They have incurred divine displeasure): In that they broke their covenant; that they rejected the signs of Allah; that they slew the Messengers in defiance of right; that they said, “Our hearts are the wrappings (which preserve Allah’s Word; We need no more)”;- Nay, Allah hath set the seal on their hearts for their blasphemy, and little is it they believe;-
PICKTHAL: Then because of their breaking of their covenant, and their disbelieving in the revelations of Allah, and their slaying of the prophets wrongfully, and their saying: Our hearts are hardened – Nay, but Allah set a seal upon them for their disbelief, so that they believe not save a few –
SHAKIR: Therefore, for their breaking their covenant and their disbelief in the communications of Allah and their killing the prophets wrongfully and their saying: Our hearts are covered; nay! Allah set a seal upon them owing to their unbelief, so they shall not believe except a few.
YUSUFALI: That they rejected Faith; that they uttered against Mary a grave false charge;
PICKTHAL: And because of their disbelief and of their speaking against Mary a tremendous calumny;
SHAKIR: And for their unbelief and for their having uttered against Marium a grievous calumny.
YUSUFALI: That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
PICKTHAL: And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain.
SHAKIR: And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.
“In the case of Barnabas,. . . he has totally disassociated Israel from the precepts of the Old Testament. In fact he specifically designates the Church to be the heir of the covenantal promises made to Israel (4:6-7; 13:1-6; 14:4 -5).” (Dispensational Premillennial Analysis: p. 46.)
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
“The eschatological descriptions are decidedly moderate. He is a millenarian, but in speaking of the Judgment to come he simply expresses a vague belief that the end is approaching.
From a literary point of view the Epistle of Barnabas has no merit. The style is tedious, poor in expression, deficient in clearness, in elegance, and incorrectness. The author’s logic is weak, and his matter is not under his control; from this fact arise the numerous digressions. These digressions, however, afford no reason for doubting the integrity of the letter, or for regarding as interpolations either entire chapters, or a consecutive number of verses or parts of verses in each chapter.” (New Advent)
“The Epistle of barnabas uses the word “Deicide” (the killing of God). This depicts ignorance of God’s plan of redemption from the very beginning and symbolized an increasing cancer that was growing within the church. As a result of this new thinking, the early church fathers proceeded to alter the original words of the Apostles. It has been documented that certain changes were made in the apostolic record and subsequently adopted into the understanding of the church of the second, third and subsequent centuries. Plato’s ideas, Greek thought and wisdom had totally infiltrated God’s Judaic church. The church had moved further away from the marriage ceremony at “Mount Sinai and closer to the Mars Hill of Greek mythology.”
“The Epistle of Barnabas appears to have been written in response to a Jewish resurgence in the first half of the second century, no doubt kindled by Emperor Hadrian’s sympathy toward the vanquished nation. The author, perhaps fearing a loss of Jewish converts, goes to great lengths to explain the Judaistic misconceptions about Old Testament scripture.
Nearly all of the Jewish customs have been allegorically interpreted in relation to Christ and the New Covenant. The sacrificing of animals was a representation of the suffering Christ; now, sacrifices should only occur in your lives and hearts. Fasting should be an abstention not from food but from sin and injustice. The temple is not a building but the body of the Church. And the Sabbath is held in expectation of the Parousia. The letter ends with an explanation of Christian lifestyle, most likely borrowed from the Didache.
The epistle was highly regarded in the early church, included in the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Hierosolymitanus, and believed authentic and canonical by Clement, Origen and Jerome, though Eusebius regarded it as apocryphal. However, the general message of the epistle was largely supplanted by the Epistle to the Hebrews, which has also been attributed to Barnabas. The companion of Paul was most likely not the author of the Epistle of Barnabas, given its date of composition and hostility toward Mosaic law.”