THE STORY OF ABRAHAM
AS TOLD BY JESUS
(FROM THE GOSPEL OF BARNABAS)
(By: M. Javed Naseem)
The Christian world has many versions of Bible but most Christians use the King James Version. It is not true that King James Version is authentic and others are not. On the contrary, when King James came up with his version, he burnt or destroyed all other versions of Bible, some of which were considered more authentic than his own.
During his tenure, and the tenure of his mother Queen ‘Bloody Mary’, hundreds of reformists or the Protestants were killed and persecuted for following a religion other than the Catholic-ism; and for possessing other versions of Bible – especially the Geneva Version and the Gospel of Barnabas. King James introduced the government version of the Bible for he, like all other monarchs, believed that they (kings) were the viceroys of God on earth, therefore, they had the birth-right to enforce their brand of religion. Unfortunately, we see the similar pattern in the Muslim world too.
The man is so wicked that when he gets power, he always wants to play ‘God’ on earth. Nimrods, the Pharaohs, the kings and the queens of yesterday and today, and all the dictators of today’s Arab or non-Arab world, support this argument. Money and power make men mean maniacs.
The Gospel of Barnabas contains some authentic references that can be confirmed or verified by the Holy Quran. There are some stories of the prophets in the Holy Quran that we find in the Bible too (for example: Adam and Eve; Noah and his ark; Moses and the Pharaoh; Joseph and his brothers; Jesus and his disciples; etc.). Sometimes the Quran does not give much detail whereas the Bible explains the same in detail. But there is no way that we can verify these details! Therefore, we don’t know how much of these details are based on truth. However, it is still very interesting to read those stories academically – to add to your knowledge.
Barnabas was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, the son of Mary (or Jesus Christ as we call him today). This is how he wrote the opening paragraph of the Gospel:
‘Dearly beloved the great and wonderful God hath during these past days visited us by his prophet Jesus Christ in great mercy of teaching and miracles, by reason whereof many, being deceived of Satan, under presence of piety, are preaching most impious doctrine, calling Jesus son of God, repudiating the circumcision ordained of God for ever, and permitting every unclean meat; among whom also Paul hath been deceived, whereof I speak not without grief; for which cause I am writing that truth which I have seen and heard, in the intercourse that I have had with Jesus, in order that ye may be saved, and not be deceived of Satan and perish in the judgment of God. Therefore beware of every one that preacheth (preaches) unto you new doctrine contrary to that which I write, that ye may be saved eternally. The great God be with you and guard you from Satan and from every evil. Amen.’
In Chapter 14 of the Gospel, Barnabas names all the twelve disciples (Apostles) of Jesus. Here is an excerpt:
‘Jesus, having returned to the region of Jerusalem, was found again of the people with exceeding great joy, and they prayed him that he would abide with them; for his words were not as those of the scribes but were with power, for they touched the heart.’
‘Jesus, seeing that great was the multitude of them that returned to their heart for to walk in the law of God, went up into the mountain, and abode all night in prayer, and when days was come he descended from the mountain, and chose twelve, whom he called apostles, among whom is Judas, who was slain upon the cross. Their names are: Andrew and Peter his brother, fishermen; Barnabas, who wrote this, with Matthew the publican, who sat at the receipt of custom; John and James, sons of Zebedee; Thaddeus and Judas; Bartholomew and Philip; James, and Judas Iscariot the traitor. To these he always revealed the divine secrets; but the Iscariot Judas he made his dispenser of that which was given in alms, but he stole the tenth part of everything.’
The Chapters 26, 27 and 28 of the Gospel contain the story of Prophet Abraham. We all know the story of Abraham from the Holy Quran. Keep that in mind as a reference of base! Here is how the Gospel of Barnabas narrates it:
‘Then Jesus said: “There was a man on a journey who, as he was walking, discovered a treasure in a field that was to be sold for five pieces of money. Straightway the man, when he knew this, sold his cloak to buy that field. Is that credible?” The disciples answered: “He who would not believe this is mad.”
Thereupon Jesus said: “You will be mad if you do not give your senses to God to buy your soul in which resides the treasure of love; for love is an incomparable treasure. For he that loves God has God for his own; and whoever has God has everything.” Peter answered: “O master, how can one love God with true love? Tell us.”
‘Jesus replied: “Truly I say to you that he who shall not hate his father and his mother, and his own life, and children and wife for love of God, such is not worthy to be loved of God.” Peter answered: “O master, it is written in the Law of God in the Book of Moses: Honour your father, that you may live long upon the earth. And further he says: Cursed be the son that obeys not his father and his mother.” God commanded that such a disobedient son should be stoned by the wrath of the people before the gate of the city. (Why) do you bid us to hate father and mother?”
‘Jesus replied: “Every word of mine is true, because it is not mine, but God’s, who has sent me to the House of Israel. Therefore I say to you that all that which you possess God has bestowed it upon you; and so, what is more precious, the gift or the giver? When your father and your mother with every other thing is a stumbling block to you in the service of God, abandon them as enemies. Did not God say to Abraham: Go forth from the house of your father and of your kindred, and come to dwell in the land which I will give to you and to your seed? Why did God say this, except that the father of Abraham was an image-maker, who made and worshipped false gods? (For this reason) there was enmity between them, such that the father wished to burn his son.” Peter answered: “Your words are true. I pray you tell us how Abraham mocked his father.”
‘Jesus replied: “Abraham was seven years old when he began to seek God. So one day he said to his father: ‘Father, what made man?’ The foolish father answered: “Man (made man); for I made you, and my father made me.” Abraham answered: ‘Father, it is not so; for I have heard an old man weeping and saying: O my God, why have you not given me children?’ His father replied: ‘It is true, my son, that God helps man to make man, but he does not put his hands to (the task); it is only necessary that man come to pray to his God and to give him lambs and sheep, and his God will help him.” Abraham answered: ‘How many gods are there, father?’ The old man replied: ‘They are infinite in number, my son.’
Then Abraham said: ‘O father, what shall I do if I serve one god and another (god) wishes me evil because I do not serve him? In any case discord will come between them, and so war will arise among the gods. And if, perhaps, the god that wills me evil shall slay my own god, what shall I do? It is certain that he will slay me also. The old man, laughing, answered: “O son, have no fear, for no god makes war upon another god; no, in the great temple there are a thousand gods with the great god Baal; and I am now near seventy years old, and yet never have I seen that one god has smitten another god. And assuredly all men do not serve one god, but one man one, and another.”
Abraham answered: “So, then, they have peace among themselves?” His father said: “They have.” Then said Abraham: “O father, what be the gods like?” The old man answered: “Fool, every day I made a god, which I sell to others to buy bread, and you know not what the gods are like!” And then at that moment he was making an idol. “This,” said he, “is of palm wood, that one is of olive, that little one is of ivory; see how fine it is! Does it not seem as though it were alive? Assuredly, it lacks but breath!”
Abraham answered: “And so, father, the gods are without breath? Then how do they give breath? And being without life, how give they life? It is certain, father, that these are not God.” The old man was wroth at these words, say: “If you were of age to understand, I would break your head with this axe. But hold your peace, because you have not understanding!” Abraham answered: “Father, if the gods help to make man, how can it be that man should make the gods? And if the gods are made of wood, it is a great sin to burn wood. But tell me, father, how is it that, when you have made so many gods, the gods have not helped you to make so many other children that you should become the most powerful man in the world?”
The father was beside himself, hearing his son speak so; the son went on: “Father, was the world for some time without men?” “Yes”, answered the old man, “and why?” “Because,” said Abraham, “I should like to know who made the first God.” “Now go out of my house!” said the old man, “and leave me to make this god quickly, and speak no words to me; for, when you are hungry you desire bread and not words.” Abraham said: “A fine god, truly, that you cut him as you will, and he defends not himself!” Then the old man was angry, and said: “All the world says that it is a god, and you, mad fellow, say that it is not. By my gods, if you were a man I could kill you!” And having said this, he gave blows and kicks to Abraham, and chased him from the house.”
‘The disciples laughed over the madness of the old man, and stood amazed at the prudence of Abraham. But Jesus reproved them, saying: “You have forgotten the words of the prophet, who says: Present laughter is a herald of weeping to come, and further, You shall not go where is laughter, but sit where they weep, because this life passes in miseries.” Then Jesus said, “In the time of Moses, know you not that for laughing and mocking at others God turned into hideous beasts many men of Egypt? Beware that in anywise you laugh not at any one, for you shall surely weep (for it).”
‘The disciples answered: “We laughed over the madness of the old man.” Then Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, every like loves his like, and therein finds pleasure. Therefore, if you were not mad you would not laugh at madness. They answered: “My God have mercy on us.” Jesus said: “So be it.”
‘Then said Philip: “O master, how came it to pass that Abraham’s father wished to burn his son?” Jesus answered: “One day, Abraham having come to the age of twelve years, his father said to him: “Tomorrow is the festival of all the gods; therefore we shall go to the great temple and bear a present to my god, great Baal. And you shall choose for yourself a god, for you are of age to have a god.”
Abraham answered with guile: “Willingly, O my father.” And so betimes in the morning they went before every one else to the temple. But Abraham bare beneath his tunic an axe hidden. Whereupon, having entered into the temple, as the crowd increased Abraham hid himself behind an idol in a dark part of the temple. His father, when he departed, believed that Abraham had gone home before him, wherefore he did not stay to seek him.”
‘When every one had departed from the temple, the priests closed the temple and went away. Then Abraham took the axe and cut off the feet of all the idols, except the great god Baal. At its feet he placed the axe, amid the ruins which the statues made, for they, through being old and composed of pieces, fell in pieces. Thereupon, Abraham, going forth from the temple, seen by certain men, who suspected him of having gone to thieve something from the temple. So they laid hold on him, and having arrived at the temple, when they saw their gods so broken in pieces, they cried out with lamentation: “Come quickly, O men, and let us slay him who has slain our gods!” There ran together there about ten thousand men, with the priests, and questioned Abraham of the reason why he had destroyed their gods.’
Abraham answered: “You are foolish! Shall then a man slay God? It is the great God that has slain them. See you not that axe which he has near his feet? Certain it is that he desires no fellows.” Then arrived there the father of Abraham, who, mindful of the many discourses of Abraham against their gods, and recognizing the axe wherewith Abraham had broken in pieces the idols, cried out: “It has been this traitor of a son of mine, who has slain our gods! For this axe is mine.” And he recounted to them all that had passed between him and his son. Accordingly the men collected a great quantity of wood and having bound Abraham’s hands and feet put him upon the wood, and put fire underneath.’
‘Lo! God, through his angel, commanded the fire that it should not burn Abraham his servant. The fire blazed up with great fury, and burned about two thousand men of those who had condemned Abraham to death. Abraham truly found himself free, being carried by the angel of God near to the house of his father, without seeing who carried him; and thus Abraham escaped death.’
‘Then Philip said: “Great is the mercy of God upon whoever loves him. Tell us, O master, how Abraham came to (have) the knowledge of God.” Jesus answered: Having arrived near to the house of his father, Abraham feared to go into the house; so he removed (himself) some distance from the house and sat under a palm tree, where, being by himself, he said: “There must be a God who has life and power more than man, since he makes man, and man without God could not make man.”
‘Thereupon, looking round upon the stars, the moon, and the sun, he thought that they had been God. But after considering their variableness with their movements, he said: “It must be (necessarily) that God does not move and that clouds do not hide him (as they hide the planets); otherwise men would be reduced to nothing.” Remaining thus in suspense, he heard himself called by name, “Abraham!” And so, turning round and not seeing any one on any side, he said: “I am sure I heard myself called by name, Abraham.” Then two other times in a similar manner, he heard himself called by name, “Abraham!”
‘He answered: “What calls me?” Then he heard (the voice) say: “I am the angel of God, Gabriel.” Abraham was filled with fear; but the angel comforted him, saying: “Do not fear, Abraham, for you are friend of God. When you broke in pieces the gods of men, you were chosen (by) the God of the angels and prophets such that you are written in the Book of Life.” Then said Abraham: “What should I do (so as) to serve the God of the angels and holy prophets?” The angel answered: “Go to that fount and wash yourself, for God wishes to speak with you.”
‘Abraham answered: “How should I wash myself?” Then the angel appeared to him as a beautiful youth, and washed himself in the fount, saying: “Do the same as this, O Abraham.” When Abraham had washed himself, the angel said: “Go up that mountain, for God wishes to speak to you there.” Abraham ascended the mountain as the angel (had instructed him), and having sat down upon his knees he said to himself: “When will the God of the angels speak to me?” He heard himself called with a gentle voice: “Abraham!” Abraham answered him: “Who calls me?” The voice answered: I am your God, O Abraham.”
‘Abraham filled with fear, bent his face to earth, saying: “How shall your servant who is dust and ashes hearken to you!” Then said God: “Fear not, but rise up, for I have chosen you as my servant, and I will bless you and make you increase into a great people. Therefore go forth from the house of your father and of your kindred, and come to dwell in the land which I will give to you and to your seed.”
‘Abraham answered: “I will do everything, Lord; but guard me (so) that no other god may harm me.” Then God spoke, saying: “I am God alone, and there is none other god but me. I strike down, and make whole; I slay, and give life; I lead down to hell, and I bring out thereof, and on-one is able to deliver himself out of my hands.” Then God gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so our father Abraham knew God.” And having said this, Jesus lifted up his hands, saying: “To you be honour and glory, O God. So be it!”
In Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Barnabas, there is a reference to the sacrifice of Ishmael by his father Abraham:
‘Jesus fell with his face to the ground, saying: “O great Lord God, how great is thy mercy upon me, and what shall I give thee, Lord for all that thou hast granted me?” The angel Gabriel answered: “Arise, Jesus, and remember Abraham, who being willing to make sacrifice to God of his only-begotten son Ishmael, to fulfill the word of God, and the knife not being able to cut his son, at my word offered in sacrifice a sheep. Even so therefore shalt thou do, O Jesus, servant of God.”
‘Jesus answered: “Willingly, but where shall I find the lamb, seeing I have no money, and it is not lawful to steal it?” Thereupon the angel Gabriel showed unto him a sheep, which Jesus offered in sacrifice, praising and blessing God, who is glorious for ever.’
There is another reference to Abraham, scarifying his first son Ishmael to please God, in Chapter 44:
‘The disciples said: “O master, it is written in the Book of Moses, that the promise was made in Isaac”. Jesus answered with a groan: “It is so written, but Moses did not write it, nor Joshua, but rather our rabbins, who do not fear God! Truly I say to you, that if you consider the words of the angel Gabriel, you shall discover the malice of our scribes and doctors. For the angel said: “Abraham, all the world shall know how God loves you; but how shall the world know the love that you bear to God? Assuredly it is necessary that you do something for love of God”. Abraham answered: “Behold the servant of God, ready to do all that which God shall will”.
‘Then spoke God, saying to Abraham: “Take your son, your firstborn Ishmael, and come up the mountain to sacrifice him”. How is Isaac firstborn, if when Isaac was born Ishmael was seven years old?” Then said the disciples: “Clear is the deception of our doctors, therefore tell us you the truth, because we know that you are sent from God”. Then answered Jesus: “Truly I say to you, that Satan ever seeks to annul the laws of God; and therefore he with his followers, hypocrites and evil-doers, the former with false doctrine, the latter with lewd living, to day have contaminated almost all things, so that scarcely is the truth found. Woe to the hypocrites! For the praises of this world shall turn for them into insults and torments in hell”.
The Faithless Generation:
Jesus said: “Verily I say unto you, the scribes and doctors have made void the law of God with their false prophecies, contrary to the prophecies of the true prophets of God; wherefore God is wrath with the house of Israel and with this faithless generation.” His disciples wept at these words, and said: “Have mercy, O God, have mercy upon the temple and upon the holy city, and give it not into contempt of the nations that they despise not thy holy covenant.” Jesus answered: “So be it, Lord God of our fathers.” … (Gospel of Barnabas, Chapter 17).