Action Alert!

A laughable Iranian challenge to Christianity

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 24, 2012

A publisher in Iran is text touting a discovery that will “undermine the Christian Church and its authority and will revolutionize the religion in the world.” The publisher doesn’t actually have the evidence that will produce this stunning result. But if you’re going to worry about every little pesky detail,…

Do you recall that earlier this year, authorities in Turkey announced the discovery of an ancient manuscript that could be a 1,500-year old gospel? Notice: it could be. Since the document hasn’t been translated, no one is sure exactly what it is.

But it could be the apocryphal “Gospel of Barnabas,” attributed to the missionary companion of St. Paul. Here’s where the Iranian publisher enters the story:

This version of the Barnabas Gospel was written in the 5th or 6th century and it predicted the coming of the Prophet Mohammad and the religion of Islam, the Basij Press claims.

Do you see the problem here? If the document was written in the 5th or 6th century, it couldn’t very well have been written by someone who was traveling with St. Paul about 400 years earlier. It must have been written by someone claiming to represent St. Barnabas. Should we accept that claim? Another good question.

Keep in mind that the dating of the document is critical. By the 7th century it didn’t take much foresight to “predict” the appearance of Mohammad.

However, religious scholars have said another version of the Barnabas Gospel, discovered a century ago, was written less than 500 years ago, which would post-date Mohammad.

So what we have is an old document—how old, we don’t know—which could be a copy of a manuscript of highly questionable authenticity. And according to Basiq Press—no one else is making this claim—the document predicts the appearance of Mohammad. Do you see enough evidence here to spark a revolution? Maybe in Iran.

The Old Testament is replete with prophecies—many quite clear, others less so—that predict the coming of Jesus the Christ. If there is one prediction of Mohammad’s arrival--in a document that few people have seen, and which no Christian church has ever considered authoritative—Islam still has a lot of catching-up to do.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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