A 1,500 year old bible, seized by Turkey in 2000 after an investigation into antique smuggling, could hold the Gospel of Barnabas – a gospel which differs radically from the other four gospels most people are familiar with today – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The bible languished in a state courthouse until the trial of the men ended but has now been handed over to the Ankara Ethnography Museum where is will undergo some minor restoration before going on public view.
The Gospel of Barnabas is unique because in it, Jesus is thought to predict the coming of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed. Jesus also says he himself is not a god but only a prophet (i.e. a man). It also rejects the Trinity and crucifixation, both central tenants of modern day Christianity.
The bible is written on animal hide with gold lettering. The language is Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, which was the native tongue of Jesus. The text could be worth up to £14 million sterling with copies of the bible selling for between £1 – 2 million sterling.
Doubts as to the authenticity of the bible remain – some claim it is a 16th century forgery written by Muslims to cast doubt on the claims of Christianity. Others claim that the Catholic Church supressed the gospel because it was too much in line with the Islamic view of Jesus.
The Turkish culture and tourism minister Ertugrul Gunay confirmed the Vatican had requested to view the bible.