), one of the early inspired teachers of Christianity, was originally named Joseph, and received the apellation Barnabas from the apostles. To the few details in his life supplied by the New Testament various additions have been made; none of which are certainly true, while many of them are evidently false. Clemens Alexandrinus, Eusebius, and others, affirm, that Barnabas was one of the seventy disciples sent forth by our Lord himself to preach the gospel. Baronius and some others have maintained, that Barnabas not only preached the gospel in Italy, but founded the church in Milan, of which they say he was the first bishop.
That this opinion rests on no sufficient evidence is ably shewn by the candid Tillemont. (Mémoires,
&c. vol. i. p. 657, &c.) Some other fabulous stories concerning Barnabas are related by Alexander, a monk of Cyprus, whose age is doubtful; by Theodorus Lector; and in the Clementina, the Recognitions of Clemens, and the spurious Passio Barnabae in Cypro,
forged in the name of Mark.
Epistle to the Hebrews
Tertullian, in his treatise de Pudicitia
, ascribes the Epistle to the Hebrews to Barnabas; but this opinion, though probably shared by some of his contemporaries, is destitute of all probability.
Gospel according to Barnabas
A gospel ascribed to Barnabas is held in great reverence among the Turks, and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, and English.
It seems to be the production of a Gnostic, disfigured by the interpolations of some Mohammedan writer. (Fabric. Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti,
Pars Tertia, pp. 373-394; White's Bampton Lectures.
Epistle attributed to Barnabas
Respecting the epistle attributed to Barnabas great diversity of opinion has prevailed from the date of its publication by Hugh Menard, in 1645, down to the present day.
The external evidence is decidedly in favour of its genuineness; for the epistle is ascribed to Barnabas, the coadjutor of Paul, no fewer than seven times by Clemens Alexandrinus, and twice by Origen. Eusebius and Jerome, however, though they held the epistle to be a genuine production of Barnabas, yet did not admit it into the canon. When we come to examine the contents of the epistle, we are at a loss to conceive how any serious believer in divine revelation could ever think of ascribing a work full of such gross absurdities and blunders to a teacher endowed with the gifts of the Spirit.
It is not improbable that the author's name was Barnabas, and that the Alexandrian fathers, finding its contents so accordant with their system of allegorical interpretation, came very gladly to the precipitate conclusion that it was composed by the associate of Paul.
This epistle is found in several Greek manuscripts appended to Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians.
An old Latin translation of the epistle of Barnabas was found in the abbey of Corbey; and, on comparing it with the Greek manuscripts, it was discovered that they all of them want the first four chapters and part of the fifth. The Latin translation, on the other hand, is destitute of the last four chapters contained in the Greek codices.
An edition of this epistle was prepared by Usher, and printed at Oxford; but it perished, with the exception of a few pages, in the great fire at Oxford in 1644. The following are the principal editions: in 1645, 4to. at Paris; this edition was prepared by Menard, and brought out after his death by Luke d'Acherry
; in 1646, by Isaac Vossius, appended to his edition of the epistles of Ignatius
; in 1655, 4to. at Helmstadt, edited by Mader
; in 1672, with valuable notes by the editor, in Cotelerius's edition of the Apostolic Fathers
; it is included in both of Le Clerc's republications of this work
; in 1680, Isaac Vossius's edition was republished
; in 1685, 12mo. at Oxford, an edition superintended by Bishop Fell, and containing the few surviving fragments of Usher's notes
; in the same year, in the Varia Sacra of Stephen Le Moyne
; the first volume containing long prolegomena, and the second prolix but very learned annotations to this epistle; in 1746, 8vo. in Russel's edition of the Apostolic Fathers
; in 1788, in the first volume of Gallandi's Bibliotheca Patrum
; in 1839, 8vo. by Hefele, in his first
, and, in 1842, in his second edition of the Patres Apostolici.
In English we have one translation of this epistle by Archbishop Wake, originally published in 1693 and often reprinted. Among the German translations of it, the best are by Rössler, in the first volume of his Bibliothek der Kirchenväter,
and by Hefele, in his Das Sendschreiben des Apostels Barnatbs anfs Neue untersucht, übersetzt, und erklärt, Tübingen, 1840.