|Apostle to Antioch and Cyprus|
|Died||61 AD, Salamis, Cyprus|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Lutheran Church|
|Major shrine||Monastery of St Barnabas in Famagusta, Cyprus|
|Attributes||Pilgrim's staff; olive branch; holding the Gospel of St Matthew|
|Patronage||Cyprus, Antioch, against hailstorms, invoked as peacemaker|
Saint Barnabas of the first century, born Joseph, was an Early Christian convert, one of the earliest Christian disciples in Jerusalem. Like almost all Christians at the time (see also Jewish Christians), Barnabas was Jewish, specifically a Levite. Named an apostle in , he and Saint Paul undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts against the demands of stricter church leaders (see also Judaizers). They gained many converts in Antioch (c 43-44), traveled together making more converts (c 45-47), and participated in the Council of Jerusalem (c 50). Barnabas and Paul successfully evangelized among the "God-fearing" gentiles who attended synagogues in various Hellenized cities of Anatolia.
Barnabas' story appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul mentions him in some of his epistles. Tertullian named him as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, but this and other attributions are conjecture. Clement of Alexandria ascribed an early Christian epistle to Barnabas (Epistle of Barnabas), but that is highly improbable.
His Hellenic Jewish parents called him Joseph (although the Byzantine text-type calls him Ιὠσης, Iōsēs, 'Joses', a Greek variant of 'Joseph'), but when he sold all his goods and gave the money to the apostles in Jerusalem, they gave him a new name: Barnabas. This name appears to be from the Aramaic בר נביא, bar naḇyā, meaning 'the (son of the) prophet'. However, the Greek text of the explains the name as υἱός παρακλήσεως, hyios paraklēseōs, meaning "son of consolation" or "son of encouragement". A similar link between ”prophecy” and ”encouragement” is found in St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14:3)
Barnabas in the New Testament
Barnabas appears mainly in Acts, a Christian history of the early Christian church. He also appears in certain of Saint Paul's epistles.
St Barnabas is one of the first teachers of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Like all the apostles, Barnabas was Jewish, a Levite (one of the twelve Israelite tribes, which was assigned the task of serving in the Jewish Temple). His aunt was the mother of John, surnamed Mark (Colossians 4:10), widely assumed to be the same Mark as the person traditionally believed to be the author of the Gospel of Mark. He was a native of Cyprus, where he possessed land (Acts 4:36, 37), which he sold, and gave the proceeds to the church in Jerusalem. When Saint Paul returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas took him and introduced him to the apostles (9:27). Easton, in his Bible Dictionary, supposes that they had been fellow students in the school of Rabbi 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. St 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 members of the Jerusalem church (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," his Roman name, 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. St. Paul appears as the preaching missionary (13:16; 14:8-9, 19-20), whence the Lystrans regarded him as Hermes, St. 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, St. Peter, and St. 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), St 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 younger cousin, John Mark, to visit Cyprus (15:36-41).
St Barnabas is not mentioned again by St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. 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.
Barnabas and Antioch
Antioch, the third-most important city of the Roman Empire, then the capital city of Syria province, today Antakya, Turkey, was where Christians were first called thus. It was indeed the site of an early Christian community, traditionally said to be founded by Peter . A considerable minority of the Antioch church of Barnabas's time belonged to the merchant class, and they provided support to the poorer Jerusalem church.
Council of Jerusalem
Barnabas participated in the Council of Jerusalem, which dealt with the admission of gentiles into the Christian community, a crucial problem in early Christianity. Paul and Barnabas proposed that gentiles be allowed into the community without being circumcized.
Church tradition describes the martyrdom of many saints. Barnabas' martyrdom is legend. It relates that certain Jews coming to Syria and Salamis, where Barnabas was then preaching the gospel, being highly exasperated at his extraordinary success, fell upon him as he was disputing in the synagogue, dragged him out, and, after the most inhumane tortures, stoned him to death. His kinsman, John Mark, who was a spectator of this barbarous action, privately interred his body.
According to the History of the Cyprus Church, in 478 Barnabas appeared in a dream to the Archbishop of Constantia (Salamis, Cyprus) Anthemios and revealed to him the place of his sepulchre beneath a carob-tree. The following day Anthemios found the tomb and inside it the remains of St. Barnabas with a manuscript of St. Barnabas's Gospel on his breast. Anthemios presented the Gospel to Emperor Zeno at Constantinople and received from him the privileges of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, that is, the purple cloak which the Greek Archbishop of Cyprus wears at festivals of the church, the imperial sceptre and the red ink with which he affixes his signature.
Anthemios then placed the venerable remains of St. Barnabas in a church which he founded near the tomb. Excavations near the site of a present-day church and monastery, have revealed an early church with two empty tombs, believe to be that of St. Barnabas and Anthemios.
St. Barnabas is venerated as the Patron Saint of Cyprus.
Other sources bring St Barnabas to Rome and Alexandria. In the "Clementine Recognitions" (i, 7) he is depicted as preaching in Rome even during Christ's lifetime, and Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, ii, 20) makes him one of the Seventy Disciples that are mentioned in the Gospel of Luke.
Not older than the 3rd century is the tradition of the later activity and martyrdom of St Barnabas in Cyprus, where his remains are said to have been discovered under the Emperor Zeno. The Cypriot Church claimed Saint Barnabas as its founder in order to rid itself of the supremacy of the Patriarch of Antioch, as did the Archbishop of Milan afterwards, to become more independent of Rome. In this connection, the question whether St. Barnabas was an apostle became important, and was often discussed during the Middle Ages. The statements as to the year of St Barnabas's death are discrepant and untrustworthy.
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 Acts of the Apostles. (Current consensus ascribes the book to the author of Luke.)
He is also traditionally associated with the Epistle of Barnabas, although modern scholars think it more likely that that epistle was written in Alexandria in the 130s. The sixth century Decretum Gelasianum includes a Gospel of Barnabas amongst works condemned as apocryphal; but no certain text or quotation from this work has been identified.
Another book using that same title, the "Gospel of Barnabas," survives in two post-medieval manuscripts in Italian and Spanish. Contrary to the canonical Christian Gospels, and in accordance with the Islamic view of Jesus, this later "Gospel of Barnabas" states that Jesus was not the son of God, but a prophet, and calls Paul "the deceived." The book also says Jesus rose alive into Heaven without having been crucified, and that Judas Iscariot was crucified in his place. Allegedly also it mentions by name the Comforter, as Mohammad. This discord between Paul and Barnabas would be unlikely, according to the author of the Acts of the Apostles, whether Luke or Barnabas, mentions several times the comradery between Paul and Barnabas.
This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.
Literature: Epistle of Barnabas
- Die Apostolischen Väter. Griechisch-deutsche Parallelausgabe. J.C.B. Mohr Tübingen 1992. ISBN 3-16-145887-7
- Der Barnabasbrief. Übersetzt und erklärt von Ferdinand R. Prostmeier. Series: Kommentar zu den Apostolischen Vätern (KAV, Vol. 8). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht: Göttingen 1999. ISBN 3-525-51683-5
- *St Barnabas Monastery
- "Barnabas." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- Harris names him as a "prominent leader" of the early church in Jerusalem. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
- Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1972
- Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
- "Hebrews, Epistle to the" Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- "Epistle of Barnabas." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
- Note that the King James version uses Jupiter instead of Zeus
- Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article Antioch
- "The Life of our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: And the Lives and Sufferings of His Holy Evangelists and Apostles," p.455, 1857 AD, Miller, Orton & Co., 25 Park Row, New York.
- Church of Cyprus, History of Cyprus Church, The Autocephaly of the Cyprus Church http://www.churchofcyprus.org.cy/article.php?articleID=92
- Cyprus Commemorative Stamp issue: 1900th Death Anniversary of Apostle Barnavas, http://www.philatelism.com/details.php?issueid=22
- Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Barnabas
- Compare C. J. Hefele, Das Sendschreiben des Apostels Barnabas, Tübingen, 1840; O. Braunsberger, "Der Apostel Barnabas," Mainz, 1876.
- Compare T. Zahn, Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, ii, 292, Leipsig, 1890.
- Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. "The Penguin Dictionary of Saints," 3rd edition, New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0140513124.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Saint Barnabas|
- Biography of St Barnabas
- Gospel of Barnabas
- "St. Barnabas". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/St._Barnabas.
- "Epistle of Barnabas". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Epistle_of_Barnabas.
- "Barnabas". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.
- The Ecole Glossary about Barnabas
- The Epistle of Barnabas
- St. Barnabas the Apostle
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Barnabas
- Parish of St Barnabas in Tunbridge Wells, England, UK
- Barnabas Community Church, Shrewsbury, England, UK
- Cyprus44, the North Cyprus Guide: St Barnabas Monastery and Icon Museum
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