The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria till 325 C.E. Iranaeus (130-200) wrote in support of pure monotheism and opposed Paul for injecting into Christianity doctrines of the pagan Roman religion and Platonic philosophy. He had quoted extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas in support of his views. This shows that the Gospel of Barnabas was in circulation in the first and second centuries of Christianity.
In 325 C.E., the Nicene Council was held, where it was ordered that all original Gospels in Hebrew script should be destroyed. An Edict was issued that anyone in possession of these Gospels will be put to death.
In 383 C.E., the Pope secured a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas and kept it in his private library. In the fourth year of Emperor Zeno (478 C.E. ), the remains of Barnabas were discovered and there was found on his breast a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas written by his own hand. (Acia Sanctorum Boland Junii Tom II, Pages 422 and 450. Antwerp 1698) . The famous Vulgate Bible appears to be based on this Gospel.
Pope Sixtus (1585-90) had a friend, Fra Marino. He found the Gospel of Barnabas in the private library of the Pope. Fra Marino was interested because he had read the writings of Iranaeus where Barnabas had been profusely quoted. The Italian manuscript passed through different hands till it reached “a person of great name and authority” in Amsterdam, “who during his lifetime was often heard to put a high value to this piece”. After his death, it came into the possession of J. E. Cramer, a Councillor of the King of Prussia. In 1713 Cramer presented this manuscript to the famous connoisseur of books, Prince Eugene of Savoy. In 1738 along with the library of the Prince it found its way into Hofbibliothek in Vienna. There it now rests.
- Barnabas is also mentioned in the Stichometry of Nicephorus Serial No. 3, Epistle of Barnabas . . . Lines 1, 300.
- Then again in the list of Sixty Books
- Serial No. 17. Travels and teaching of the Apostles.
- Serial No. 18. Epistle of Barnabas.
- Serial No. 24. Gospel According to Barnabas.
- A Greek version of the Gospel of Barnabas is also found in a solitary fragment. The rest is burnt.
The Latin text was translated into English by Mr. and Mrs. Ragg and was printed at the Clarendon Press in Oxford. It was published by the Oxford University Press in 1907. This English translation mysteriously disappeared from the market. Two copies of this translation are known to exist, one in the British Museum and the other in the Library of the Congress, Washington, DC. The first edition was from a micro-film copy of the book in the Library of the Congress, Washington, DC.