Barnabas

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Barnabas
Barnabas.jpg
Icon of Saint Barnabas
Prophet, Disciple, Apostle to Antioch and Cyprus, Missionary, and Martyr
Born Cyprus
Died reputedly 61 AD
Salamis, Cyprus
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Lutheran Church
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Major shrine Monastery of St Barnabas in Famagusta, Cyprus[1]
Feast June 11
Attributes Pilgrim's staff; olive branch; holding the Gospel of St Matthew
Patronage Cyprus, Antioch, against hailstorms, invoked as peacemaker

Barnabas (Greek: Βαρνάβας), born Joseph, was an early Christian, one of the earliest Christian disciples in Jerusalem.[2][3] According to Acts 4:36 Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew. Named an apostle in Acts 14:14, he and Paul the Apostle undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts against the Judaizers.[2] They traveled together making more converts (c 45-47), and participated in the Council of Jerusalem (c 50).[4] Barnabas and Paul successfully evangelized among the "God-fearing" Gentiles who attended synagogues in various Hellenized cities of Anatolia.[5]

Barnabas' story appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul mentions him in some of his epistles.[2] Tertullian named him as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews,[2] but this and other attributions are conjecture.[6] Clement of Alexandria ascribed the Epistle of Barnabas to him, but that is highly improbable.[7]

Although the date, place, and circumstances of his death are historically unverifiable, Christian tradition holds that Barnabas was martyred at Salamis, Cyprus, in 61 AD.[2] He is traditionally identified as the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. The feast day of Barnabas is celebrated on June 11.[2]

Barnabas is usually identified as the cousin of Mark the Evangelist on the basis of Colossians 4.[8] Some traditions hold that Aristobulus of Britannia, one of the Seventy Disciples, was the brother of Barnabas.

Name and etymologies[edit]

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 Acts 4:36 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 Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 14:3).

Biblical narrative[edit]

Barnabas curing the sick by Paolo Veronese, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen.

Barnabas appears mainly in Acts, a Christian history of the early Christian church. He also appears in several of Paul's epistles.

Barnabas is one of the first teachers of the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1). Barnabas was a Levite. He was a native of Cyprus, where he possessed land (Acts 4:36, 37), which he sold, giving the proceeds to the church in Jerusalem. When the Apostle 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.[9]

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, "an admirable colleague", to assist him.[10] 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.

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[11][12] (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.

It is quite likely, however, that the epistle of Galatians was written prior to the Jerusalem council, and that it refers to a meeting between Paul, Barnabas, and Peter, James, and John that happened earlier. Much of the scholarship of the 1800s assumes that Galatia was a province to the north of the first missionary journey churches started through Paul and Barnabas' ministry as described in Acts 13-14. But archaeology and recent scholarship accepts the fact that the province of Galatia included many of the first missionary journey churches. It would have been very strange indeed for Paul to have omitted the fact that the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church had not laid circumcision as a requirement upon the Gentiles considering the topic of the epistle after it became a controversy in Galatia. It is more likely that the epistle was written some time before the Jerusalem council, and that teachers came from Jerusalem to Antioch teaching the need for it after Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatians, churches from the first missionary journey, addressing this issue.

After they had returned to Antioch from the Jerusalem council and after spending 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 John Mark to visit Cyprus (15:36-41). According to Hippolytus of Rome, John Mark is not Mark the Cousin of Barnabas, and Barnabas did not dispute with Paul because of personal favor to a blood relative, but due to his character as his nickname Barnabas ("Son of Encouragement") indicates.

Barnabas is not mentioned again by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. However, Gal. 2:11-13 says, "And when Kephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews (also) acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy." Barnabas is also mentioned in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, in which it is mentioned that he and Paul funded their missions by working side jobs and (it is implied) went without some of the benefits other apostles received, such as female companionship or food and drink (1 Cor. 9:6); Paul states that he and Barnabas forsook those benefits "that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:12).

Barnabas and Antioch[edit]

Antioch, the third-most important city of the Roman Empire,[13] then the capital city of Syria province, today Antakya, Turkey, was where Christians were first called thus.[14] It was indeed the site of an early Christian community, traditionally said to be founded by Peter .[citation needed] 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.[4]

Council of Jerusalem[edit]

Main article: 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.[4] Paul and Barnabas proposed that gentiles be allowed into the community without being circumcised.

Martyrdom[edit]

Main article: Christian martyrs

Church tradition developed outside of the canon of the New Testament describes the martyrdom of many saints, including the legend of the martyrdom of Barnabas.[2] 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.[15]

Although it is believed he was martyred of faith by being stoned, the Catholic-Apocryphal Acts of Barnabas states that he was bounded with a rope by the neck, and then being dragged only to the site where he would be burned to death. This is highly unlikely since the apocryphal Acts states that his bones were burnt to dust and that relics of some of his bones are stored in a church today; on the other hand, the fire in the apocryphal Acts could have cremated only some of his bones.

According to the History of the Cyprus Church,[16] 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 Barnabas with a manuscript of Matthew'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 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.[17]

St. Barnabas is venerated as the Patron Saint of Cyprus.

Other sources[edit]

Although many assume that the biblical Mark the Cousin of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10) is the same as John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15: 37) and Mark the Evangelist, the traditionally believed author of the Gospel of Mark, according to Hippolytus of Rome,[18] the three "Mark"s are distinct persons. They were all members of the Seventy Apostles of Christ, including Barnabas himself. There are two people named Barnabas among Hippolytus' list of Seventy Disciples, one (#13) became the bishop of Milan, the other (#25) the bishop of Heraclea. Most likely one of these two is the biblical Barnabas; the first one is more likely, because the numbering by Hippolytus seems to indicate a level of significance. Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, ii, 20) also makes Barnabas one of the Seventy Disciples that are mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1ff.

Other sources bring Barnabas to Rome and Alexandria. In the "Clementine Recognitions" (i, 7) he is depicted as preaching in Rome even during Christ's lifetime.

Not older than the 3rd 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 Patriarch of Antioch, as did the Archbishop of Milan afterwards, to become more independent of Rome.[19] In this connection, the question whether Barnabas was an apostle became important, and was often discussed during the Middle Ages.[20] The statements as to the year of Barnabas's death are discrepant and untrustworthy.

Alleged writings[edit]

Tertullian and other Western writers regard Barnabas as the author of the Letter 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.[clarification needed]

Photius of the ninth century, refers to some in his day who were uncertain whether the Acts was written by Clement of Rome, Barnabas, or Luke. Yet Photius is certain that the work must be ascribed to Luke.” [21]

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 5th 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.[22] 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 messenger. The book also says Jesus rose alive into Heaven without having been crucified and mentions Muhammad by name.[23] Though the exact dating is disputed, there is also a dispute among scholars as to the work being pseudepigraphical or apocryphal.[24]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ *St Barnabas Monastery
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Barnabas." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  3. ^ Harris names him as a "prominent leader" of the early church in Jerusalem. Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  4. ^ a b c Durant, Will. Caesar and Christ. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1972
  5. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  6. ^ "Hebrews, Epistle to the" Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  7. ^ "Epistle of Barnabas." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  8. ^ Mark: Images of an Apostolic Interpreter p55 C. Clifton Black - 2009 "infrequent occurrence in the Septuagint (Num 36:11; Tob 7:2) to its presence in Josephus (JW 1.662; Ant 1.290, 15.250) and Philo (On the Embassy to Gaius 67), anepsios consistently carries the connotation of "cousin," though ..."
  9. ^ "Barnabas", Easton, Matthew George, Eastons's Bible Dictionary, (new and revised edition),(1897), T. Nelson and Sons
  10. ^ F.F. Bruce,New Testament History,p.233, New York: Doubleday, 1969
  11. ^ Covenantseminary.edu
  12. ^ Note that the King James version uses Jupiter instead of Zeus
  13. ^ Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article Antioch
  14. ^ Acts 11:26
  15. ^ "The Life of our Blessed Lord and Savior 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.
  16. ^ Church of Cyprus, History of Cyprus Church, The Autocephaly of the Cyprus Church churchofcyprus.org
  17. ^ Cyprus Commemorative Stamp issue: 1900th Death Anniversary of Apostle Barnabas, philatelism.com
  18. ^ Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 255-6
  19. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Barnabas
  20. ^ Compare C. J. Hefele, Das Sendschreiben des Apostels Barnabas, Tübingen, 1840; Otto Braunsberger, "Der Apostel Barnabas," Mainz, 1876.
  21. ^ Commentary on the Acts Edwin Wilbur Rice, 1900, p.7. Adolf Harnack mistakenly wrote that Photius believed Barnabas was the author in the 1908 Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Volume 1, p. 487
  22. ^ Compare T. Zahn, Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, ii, 292, Leipsig, 1890.
  23. ^ Numerical119.tripod.com
  24. ^ Cyril Glass. The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Harper & Row, 1989, p. 64. Quoted at http://answering-islam.org/Barnabas/

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]