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Barnabas

From Academic Kids

Barnabas was an early Christian mentioned in the New Testament. According to Acts 4:36, his original name was Joseph (although the Majority Text calls him Joses, the Aramaic version of Joseph), and he was surnamed by the apostles (in Aramaic) Barnebhuah, which is explained by the Greek huios parakleseos ("son of exhortation," not "of consolation," see Acts 11:23) and denotes a prophet in the primitive Christian sense of the word (see Acts 13:1; 15:32). His feast day is June 11.

Another theory is that the name "Barnabas" comes from the Aramaic Bar - son of, and Nabas - Prophet, implying that Barnabas, or the Son of the Prophet was either Jesus' son or was another reference to Jesus himself.

In many English translations of the Bible, including the New International Version (NIV), King James Version (KJV), and New American Standard Bible (NASB), Barnabas is called an apostle. In Acts 14:14 of these translations, he is listed ahead of Paul, "Barnabas and Paul," instead of "Paul and Barnabas;" both men being described as apostles. Whether Barnabas was an apostle was debated in the Middle Ages.

His Life

He is one of the first prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Luke speaks of him as a "good man" (11:24). He was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. His aunt was the mother of John, surnamed Mark (Colossians 4:10). He was a native of Cyprus, where he had a possession of land (Acts 4:36, 37), which he sold, and gave the proceeds to the church in Jerusalem. When Paul returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas took him and introduced him to the apostles (9:27); it is possible that they had been fellow students in the school of Gamaliel.

The prosperity of the church at Antioch led the apostles and brethren at Jerusalem to send Barnabas there to superintend the movement. He found the work so extensive and weighty that he went to Tarsus in search of Paul to assist him. Paul returned with him to Antioch and labored with him for a whole year (Acts 11:25, 26). At the end of this period, the two were sent up to Jerusalem (AD 44) with the contributions the church at Antioch had made for the poorer brethren there (11:28-30).

Shortly after they returned, bringing John Mark with them, they were appointed as missionaries to Asia Minor, and in this capacity visited Cyprus and some of the principal cities of Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia (Acts 13:14). With the conversion of Sergius Paulus, Paul begins to gain prominence over Barnabas from the point where the name "Paul" is substituted for "Saul" (13:9); instead of "Barnabas and Saul" as heretofore (11:30; 12:25; 13:2, 7) we now read "Paul and Barnabas" (13:43, 46, 50; 14:20; 15:2, 22, 35); only in 14:14 and 15:12, 25 does Barnabas again occupy the first place, in the first passage with recollection of 14:12, in the last two, because Barnabas stood in closer relation to the Jerusalem church than Paul. Paul appears as the preaching missionary (13:16; 14:8-9, 19-20), whence the Lystrans regarded him as Hermes, Barnabas as Zeus (14:12). Returning from this first missionary journey to Antioch, they were again sent up to Jerusalem to consult with the church there regarding the relation of Gentiles to the church (Acts 15:2: Galatians 2:1). According to Gal. 2:9-10, Barnabas was included with Paul in the agreement made between them, on the one hand, and James, Peter, and John, on the other, that the two former should in the future preach to the pagans, not forgetting the poor at Jerusalem. This matter having been settled, they returned again to Antioch, bringing the agreement of the council that Gentiles were to be admitted into the church.

Having returned to Antioch and spent some time there (15:35), Paul asked Barnabas to accompany him on another journey (15:36). Barnabas wished to take John Mark along, but Paul did not, as he had left them on the former journey (15:37-38). The dispute ended by Paul and Barnabas taking separate routes. Paul took Silas as his companion, and journeyed through Syria and Cilicia; while Barnabas took his nephew John Mark to visit Cyprus (15:36-41).

Barnabas is not again mentioned by Luke in the Acts. However, in Gal. 2:13 a little more is learned about him, and his weakness under the taunts of the Jewish Christians is evident; and from 1 Corinthians 9:6 it may be gathered that he continued to labor as missionary.

Other Historical Records

According to other sources, Barnabas later visited Rome and Alexandria. In the "Clementine Recognitions" (i, 7) he is depicted as preaching in Rome during Christ's lifetime, and Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, ii, 20) makes him one of the seventy disciples. Not older than the third century is the tradition of the later activity and martyrdom of Barnabas in Cyprus, where his remains are said to have been discovered under the emperor Zeno. The Cypriot church claimed Barnabas as its founder in order to rid itself of the supremacy of the Antiochian bishop, just as did the Milan church afterward, to become more independent of Rome. In this connection, the question whether Barnabas was an apostle became important, and was often discussed during the Middle Ages (compare C. J. Hefele, Das Sendschreiben des Apostels Barnabas, Tubingen, 1840; O. Braunsberger, Der Apostel Barnabas, Mainz, 1876). The statements as to the year of Barnabas's death are discrepant and untrustworthy.

Alleged Writings

Tertullian and other Western writers regard Barnabas as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. This may have been the Roman tradition -- which Tertullian usually follows -- and in Rome the epistle may have had its first readers. But the tradition has weighty considerations against it.

According to Photius (Quaest. in Amphil., 123), Barnabas wrote the Book of Acts.

He is also traditionally assocatiated with the Epistle of Barnabas, although modern scholars think it more likely that that epistle was written in Alexandria in the 130s.

A "Gospel of Barnabas" is mentioned in two early lists of apocrypha. A book called the "Gospel of Barnabas", ascribed to him, survives in two post-medieval manuscripts in Italian and Spanish (compare T. Zahn, Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, ii, 292, Leipsig, 1890); however, textual evidence suggests it was probably written either by a 14th century Italian or a 16th century Morisco, and there is no evidence linking it to the earlier "Gospel of Barnabas". According to this book, Jesus was a prophet (not the son of God), and Paul is called "the deceived". It also indicates that Jesus was not crucified, but raised alive to the heaven, and Judas Iscariot was crucified in his place. These details accord with Muslim belief.

This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernisation.

This article includes content derived from the public domain Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1914.it:San Barnaba

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