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Detail of Barnabas curing the poor by Paolo Veronese, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen.

Muslims and Barnabas

As churches grow outside the traditional Christian heartlands in the West, they have to deal not only with new questions about practice and belief but with issues that hark back to the very earliest stages of the faith, such as: Which texts belong in the canon of scripture? Do other gospels tell us as much about Jesus as the canonical four?

We have all heard about the apocryphal gospels, an­cient and usually long-lost texts that have resurfaced through the work of archaeologists or textual critics. At least one such gospel is much more than a curious antique. It has not only circulated freely for centuries, but still today provides potent rhetorical ammunition in the worldwide battle of words between Christians and Muslims.

 

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