Its Contents and Message
The gospel of Barnabas can be divided into several sections of which the following is a brief description:
CHAPTERS 1-9: The birth of Jesus; his childhood and his "disputation" with the doctors concerning the law.
CHAPTERS 10-47: Jesus receives a book, the Injil from God. He begins his ministry and performs miracles. He preaches, "I am not the messiah, the messiah will be born of the Ishmaelites".
CHAPTERS 48-98: The Roman soldiers worship him as God but Jesus tells them that he is not the son of God. He has come to give the glad tidings of the coming of Muhammad.
CHAPTERS 99-126: A crowd gathers to appoint Jesus as king but Jesus leaves for Damascus and then travels to some other cities.
CHAPTERS 127-153: Jesus teaches his disciples about penitence, fasting, prayer, fear of God and high morals.
CHAPTERS 154-191: Jesus teaches about the sinful world, the nature of sin, restoration, freedom, paradise and predestination. A scribe is also mentioned who claims that he saw a secret book of Moses which declares that the "Messiah springeth from Ishmael and not from Isaac".
CHAPTERS 192-222: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and predicts the judgment of Jerusalem. The Jews attempt to stone him but he vanishes. He is betrayed by Judas. Jesus is taken into heaven and Judas’ face is made to look like that of Jesus. Judas is mistakenly crucified in place of Jesus. Jesus appears to his friends and his mother and tells them that he was not crucified. He charges Barnabas to write the gospel (Injil) after which he returns to heaven.
The message of this gospel
Muslims value this gospel highly because it teaches against the doctrine presented in the New Testament. The following are the main points of this gospel which may affirm some of the Muslim beliefs but contradicts the teaching of the New Testament:
1. Jesus is a servant and only a messenger of God (Barnabas, chapter 55). He is not God, nor the Son of God, nor a god (Barnabas, chapters 53 and 100).
2. Jesus predicts the coming of the Messiah who is Muhammad (Barnabas, chapters 42-44). He himself refuses to be a messiah but gives this title to Muhammad. It was Ishmael who was to be sacrificed, not Isaac (Barnabas, chapter 44).
3. Jesus ascended to heaven before the crucifixion and Judas was made to look like Jesus (Barnabas, chapter 220). Jesus did not die on the cross (Barnabas, chapter 215). It was Judas Iscariot who died on the cross (Barnabas, chapter 216). The disciples stole the body of Judas and claimed that Jesus was risen. Many of the disciples have taught this deception, including Paul.