In the reign of Herod, king of Judaea, when Jesus was born, three magi in the parts of the east were observing the stars of heaven. Whereupon appeared to them a star of great brightness, wherefore having concluded among themselves, they came to Judaea, guided by the star, which went before them and having arrived at Jerusalem they asked where was born the King of the Jews. And when Herod heard this he was affrighted, and all the city was troubled. Herod, therefore, called together the priests and the scribes, saying: ‘Where should Christ be born?’ They answered that he should be born in Bethlehem; for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘And thou, Bethlehem, art not little among the princes of Judah: for out
of thee shall come forth a leader, who shall lead my people Israel.’

Herod accordingly called together the magi and asked them concerning their coming: who answered that they had seen a star in the east, which had guided them thither, wherefore they wished with gifts to worship this new King manifested by his star.

Then said Herod: ‘Go to Bethlehem and search out with all diligence concerning the child; and when ye have found him, come and tell it to me, because I also would fain come and worship him.’ And this he spake deceitfully.

There reigned at that time in Judaea Herod, by decree of Caesar Augustus, and Pilate was governor in the priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. Wherefore, by decree of Augustus, all the world was enrolled; wherefore each one went to his own country, and they presented themselves by their own tribes to be enrolled. Joseph accordingly departed from Nazareth, a city of Galilee, with Mary his wife, great with child, to go to Bethlehem (for that it was his city, he being of the lineage of David), in order that he might be enrolled according to the decree of Caesar. Joseph having arrived at Bethlehem, for that the city was small, and great the multitude of them that were strangers there, he found no place, wherefore he took lodging outside the city in lodging made for a shepherds’ shelter.

While Joseph abode there the days were fulfilled for Mary to bring forth. The virgin was surrounded by a light exceeding bright and brought forth her son without pain, whom she took in her arms, and wrapping him in swaddling clothes, laid him in the manger because there was no room in the inn. There came with gladness a great multitude of angels to the inn, blessing God and announcing peace to them that fear God. Mary and Joseph praised the Lord for the birth of Jesus, and with the greatest joy nurtured him.

An Islamic Perspective
and Commentary

by
Ishaq Zahid

Please see the commentary on Chapter 2 about Joseph.

Joseph

Mary had known the will of God, fearing the people, lest they should take offence at her being great with child, and should stone her as guilty of fornication, chose a companion of her own lineage, a man by name called Joseph, of blameless life: for he as a righteous man feared God and served him with fastings and prayers, living by the works of his hands, for he was a carpenter.

Such a man the virgin knowing, chose him for her companion and revealed to him the divine counsel.

Joseph being a righteous man, when he perceived that Mary was great with child, was minded to put her away because he feared God. Behold, whilst he slept, he was rebuked by the angel of God, saying ‘O Joseph, why art thou minded putting away Mary thy wife? Know that whatsoever hath been wrought in her hath all been done by the will of God. The virgin shall bring forth a son, whom thou shall call by the name Jesus; whom thou shalt keep from wine and strong drink and from every unclean meat because he is a holy one of God from his mother’s womb. He is a prophet of God sent unto
the people of Israel, in order that he may convert Judah to his heart, and that Israel may walk in the law of the Lord, as it
is written in the law of Moses. He shall come with great power, which God shall give him, and shall work great miracles, whereby many shall be saved.

Joseph, arising from sleep, gave thanks to God, and abode with Mary all his life, serving God with all sincerity.

An Islamic Perspective
and Commentary

by
Ishaq Zahid

The Islamic version differs greatly on this subject from the Gospel of Barnabas. In the Islamic version, there is no mention of Joseph. The Holy Quran asserts that Mary (peace be on her) was single when she gave birth to Jesus. The verses from the Quran are very inspiring and are given below:

So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): “Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!” But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): “Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; “And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee. “So eat and drink and cool (thine) eyes. And if thou dost see any man, say, `I have vowed a fast to (God) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.’ ” (The Quran, 19:22-26)
JESUS SPOKE AS A BABY
At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: “O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! “O sister of Aaron! thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!”
But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”
He said: “I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; “And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; “(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; “So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)”! Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.
It is not befitting to (the majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a
matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is. Verily, God is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a Way that is straight. But the sects differ among themselves: and woe to the Unbelievers because of the (coming) Judgment of a momentous Day!
(The Holy Quran, 19:27-37)

It appears that St. Barnabas was not an eyewitness to the birth of Jesus (may peace be on him). Most likely St. Barnabas included this text based on his understanding at a later time. While it is possible that Mary (peace be on her) got married sometime after the birth of Jesus, the Holy Quran does not allude to it and I am also not aware of any sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) in this regard. Nevertheless, the marriage of Mary after the birth of Jesus is irrelevant. What is important to note is that the Islamic version does not support this Chapter of the Gospel.

True Gospel of Jesus, called Christ, a new prophet sent by God to the world: according to the description of Barnabas his apostle.  
 
Barnabas, an apostle of Jesus the Nazarene, called Christ, to all them that dwell upon the earth desireth peace and consolation.

Dearly beloved the great and wonderful God hath during these past days visited us by his prophet Jesus Christ in the great mercy of teaching and miracles, by reason whereof many, being deceived of Satan, under the pretence of piety, are preaching most impious doctrine, calling Jesus son of God, repudiating the circumcision ordained of God forever, and permitting every unclean meat: among whom also Paul hath been deceived, whereof I speak not without grief; for which cause I am writing that truth which I have seen and heard, in the intercourse that I have had with Jesus, in order that ye may be saved, and not be deceived of Satan and perish in the judgment of God. Therefore beware of everyone that preacheth unto you new doctrine contrary to that which I write, that ye may be saved eternally.

The great God be with you and guard you from Satan and from every evil. Amen.

Chapter 1. The angel Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary concerning the birth of Jesus.

In these last years a virgin called Mary, of the lineage of David, of the tribe of Judah was visited by the angel Gabriel from God. This virgin, living in all holiness without any offence, being blameless, and abiding in prayer with fastings, being one day alone, there entered into her chamber the angel Gabriel, and he saluted her, saying: ‘God be with thee, O Mary’.

The virgin was affrighted at the appearance of the angel; but the angel comforted her, saying: ‘Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God, who hath chosen thee to be the mother of a prophet, whom he will send to the people of Israel in order that they may walk in his laws with the truth of the heart.’
The virgin answered: ‘Now how shall I bring forth sons, seeing I know not a man?’ The angel answered: ‘O Mary, God who made man without a man is able to generate in the man without a man because with him nothing is impossible.’

Mary answered: ‘I know that God is almighty, therefore his will be done.’ The angel answered: ‘Now be conceived in thee the prophet, whom thou shalt name Jesus: and thou shalt keep him from wine and from strong drink and from every unclean meat because the child is a holy one of God.’ Mary bowed herself with humility, saying: ‘Behold the handmaid of God, be it done according to thy word.’

The angel departed, and the virgin glorified God, saying: ‘Know, O my soul, the greatness of God, and exult, my spirit, in God my Saviour; for he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden, insomuch that I shall be called blessed by all the nations, for he that is mighty hath made me great and blessed be his holy name. For his mercy extendeth from generation to generation of them that fear him. Mighty hath he made his hand, and he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of his heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble. Him who hath been hungry hath he filled with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away. For he keepeth in memory, the promises made to Abraham and to his son forever.

An Islamic Perspective and Commentary

by
Ishaq Zahid

JESUS BORN WITHOUT A FATHER

The true story of Jesus’ birth from Mary is narrated in the Holy Quran. We are told that he was born without a father by the command of God. Mary was single and a chaste woman.

And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and We made her and her son a Sign for all peoples. (The Holy Quran, 21:91)

Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.  She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her in the shape of a well-made human being. She said: “I seek refuge from thee to (God) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear God.”  He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.”  She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?”  He said: “So (it will be): thy Lord saith, `That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: it is a matter (so) decreed.” (The Holy Quran, 19:16-21)

The words of the angel, “and thou shalt keep him from wine and from strong drink and from every unclean meat because the child is a holy one of God.” in the Gospel tell us clearly that Jesus (peace be on him) never drank wine or other alcoholic beverages. This point should be worth remembering, as we proceed through the text.

Circumcision

When the eight days were fulfilled according to the law of the Lord, as it is written in the book of Moses, they took the child and carried him to the temple to circumcise him. And so they circumcised the child, and gave him the name Jesus, as the angel of the Lord had said before he was conceived in the womb. Mary and Joseph perceived that the child must need to be for the salvation and ruin of many. Wherefore they feared God and kept the child with fear of God.

An Islamic Perspective
and Commentary

by
Ishaq Zahid

All Muslim boys are required to circumcise, according to the injunctions of Prophet Muhammad saws.gif (304 bytes). It illustrates on the commonality of the way of life of the Prophets of God and points to the same root of their mission.

At that time the shepherds were watching over their flock, as is their custom. And, behold, they were surrounded by an exceeding bright light, out of which appeared to them an angel, who blessed God. The shepherds were filled with fear by reason of the sudden light and the appearance of the angel; whereupon the angel of the Lord comforted them, saying:


‘Behold, I announce to you a great joy, for there is born in
the city of David a child who is a prophet of the Lord; who
bringeth great salvation to the house of Israel. The child ye
shall find in the manger, with his mother, who blesseth God.’

And when he had said this there came a great multitude of angels blessing God, announcing peace to them that have goodwill. When the angels departed, the shepherds spake among themselves, saying: ‘Let us go even unto Bethlehem, and see the word which God by his angel hath announced to us.’ There came many shepherds to Bethlehem seeking the newborn babe. and they found outside the city the child that was born. according to the word of the angel. lying in the manager. They, therefore, made obeisance to him and gave to the mother that which they had, announcing to her what they had heard and seen. Mary, therefore, kept all these things in her heart, and Joseph [likewise], giving thanks to God. The shepherds returned to their flock, announcing to everyone how great a thing they had seen. And so the whole hill-country of Judaea was filled with fear, and every man laid up this word in his heart, saying: ‘What, think we, shall this child be?’

Promise to Ishmael

Jesus went down to the eight disciples who were awaiting him below. And the four narrated to the eight all that they had seen: and so there departed that day from their heart all doubt of Jesus, save [from] Judas Iscariot, who believed nought. Jesus seated himself at the foot of the mountain, and they ate of the wild fruits because they had no bread.
            Then said Andrew: ‘Thou hast told us many things of the Messiah, therefore of thy kindness tell us clearly all.’ And in like manner the other disciples besought him.
            Accordingly, Jesus said: ‘Everyone that worketh for an end in which he findeth satisfaction. Wherefore I say unto you that God, verily because he is perfect, hath no need of satisfaction, seeing that he hath satisfaction himself. And so, willing to work, he created before all things the soul of his messenger, for whom he determined to create the whole, in order that the creatures should find joy and blessedness in God, whence his messenger should take delight in all his creatures, which he hath appointed to be his slaves. And wherefore is this, so save because thus he hath willed?

‘Verily I say unto you, that every prophet when he has come hath borne to one nation only the mark of the mercy of God. And so their words were not extended save to those people to which they were sent. But the messenger of God, when he shall come, God shall give to him as it were the seal of his hand, insomuch that he shall carry salvation and mercy to all the nations of the world that shall receive his doctrine. He shall come with power upon the ungodly, and shall destroy idolatry, insomuch that he shall make Satan confounded; for so promised God to Abraham, saying: “Behold, in thy seed I will bless all the tribes of the earth; and as thou hast broken in pieces the idols, O Abraham, even so, shall thy seed do.”‘
   James answered: ‘O master, tell us in whom this promise was made; for the Jews say “in Isaac,” and the Ishmaelites say ‘in Ishmael.” ‘
Jesus answered: ‘David, whose son was he, and of what lineage?’
James answered: ‘Of Isaac; for Isaac was the father of Jacob, and Jacob was the father of Judah, of whose lineage is David.’
Then said Jesus: ‘And the messenger of God when he shall come, of what lineage will he be?’
The disciples answered: ‘Of David.

Whereupon Jesus said: ‘Ye deceive yourselves; for David in spirit calleth him, lord, saying thus: “God said to my lord, sit thou on my right hand until I make Thine enemies thy footstool. God shall send forth thy rod which shall have lordship in the midst of thine enemies.” If the messenger of God whom ye call Messiah were a son of David, how should David call him Lord? Believe me, for verily I say to you, that the promise was made in Ishmael, not in Isaac.’

Priests Try Stoning Jesus

If I work iniquity, reprove me, and God will love you because you shall be doing his will, but if none can reprove me of sin it is a sign that you are not sons of Abraham as you call yourselves, nor are you incorporate with that head wherein Abraham was incorporate. As God lives, so greatly did Abraham love God, that he not only broke in pieces the false idols and forsook his father and mother but was willing to slay his own son in obedience to God.

The high priest answered: “This I ask of you, and I do not seek to slay you, wherefore tell us: Who was this son of Abraham?” Jesus answered: “The zeal of your honour, O God, inflames me, and I cannot hold my peace. Truly I say, the son of Abraham was Ishmael, from whom must be descended the Messiah promised to Abraham, that in him should all the tribes of the earth be blessed.” Then was the high priest wroth, hearing this, and cried out: “Let us stone this impious fellow, for he is an Ishmaelite, and has spoken blasphemy against Moses and against the Law of God.”

Whereupon every scribe and Pharisee, with the elders of the people, took up stones to stone Jesus, who vanished from their eyes and went out of the Temple. And then, through the great desire that they had to slay Jesus, blinded with fury and hatred, they struck one another in such wise that there died a thousand men; and they polluted the holy Temple. The disciples and believers, who saw Jesus go out of the Temple (for from them he was not hidden), followed him to the house of Simon.

 Thereupon Nicodemus came thither and counselled Jesus to go out of Jerusalem beyond the brook Cedron, saying: ‘Lord, I have a garden with a house beyond the brook Cedron, I pray you, therefore, go thither with some of your disciples, to tarry there until this hatred of our priests is past; for I will minister to you what is necessary. And the multitude of disciples leaves you here in the house of Simon and in my house, for God will provide for all.’ And this Jesus did, desiring only to have with him the twelve first called apostles.

True Gospel of Jesus

True Gospel of Jesus, called Christ, a new prophet sent by God to the world: according to the description of Barnabas his apostle.   

    Barnabas, an apostle of Jesus the Nazarene, called Christ, to all them that dwell upon the earth desireth peace and consolation.

    Dearly beloved the great and wonderful God hath during these past days visited us by his prophet Jesus Christ in the great mercy of teaching and miracles, by reason whereof many, being deceived of Satan, under the pretence of piety, are preaching most impious doctrine, calling Jesus son of God, repudiating the circumcision ordained of God forever, and permitting every unclean meat: among whom also Paul hath been deceived, whereof I speak not without grief; for which cause I am writing that truth which I have seen and heard, in the intercourse that I have had with Jesus, in order that ye may be saved, and not be deceived of Satan and perish in the judgment of God. Therefore beware of everyone that preacheth unto you new doctrine contrary to that which I write, that ye may be saved eternally.

The great God be with you and guard you from Satan and from every evil. Amen. 

Chapter 1. The angel Gabriel visits the Virgin Mary concerning the birth of Jesus.

          In these last years a virgin called Mary, of the lineage of David, of the tribe of Judah was visited by the angel Gabriel from God. This virgin, living in all holiness without any offence, being blameless, and abiding in prayer with fastings, being one day alone, there entered into her chamber the angel Gabriel, and he saluted her, saying: ‘God be with thee, O Mary’.

The virgin was affrighted at the appearance of the angel; but the angel comforted her, saying: ‘Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God, who hath chosen thee to be the mother of a prophet, whom he will send to the people of Israel in order that they may walk in his laws with the truth of the heart.’ 

The virgin answered: ‘Now how shall I bring forth sons, seeing I know not a man?’ The angel answered: ‘O Mary, God who made man without a man is able to generate in the man without a man because with him nothing is impossible.’

Mary answered: ‘I know that God is almighty, therefore his will be done.’ The angel answered: ‘Now be conceived in thee the prophet, whom thou shalt name Jesus: and thou shalt keep him from wine and from strong drink and from every unclean meat because the child is a holy one of God.’ Mary bowed herself with humility, saying: ‘Behold the handmaid of God, be it done according to thy word.’

Open Bible on a wood floor with the gospel according to John.

The angel departed, and the virgin glorified God, saying: ‘Know, O my soul, the greatness of God, and exult, my spirit, in God my Saviour; for he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden, insomuch that I shall be called blessed by all the nations, for he that is mighty hath made me great and blessed be his holy name. For his mercy extendeth from generation to generation of them that fear him. Mighty hath he made his hand, and he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of his heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. Him who hath been hungry hath he filled with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away. For he keepeth in memory, the promises made to Abraham and to his son forever’.


 An Islamic Perspective and Commentary

by Ishaq Zahid

JESUS BORN WITHOUT A FATHER

 The true story of Jesus’ birth from Mary is narrated in the Holy Quran. We are told that he was born without a father by the command of God. Mary was single and a chaste woman.

“And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and We made her and her son a Sign for all peoples.” (The Holy Quran, 21:91)

Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.  She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her in the shape of a well-made human being. She said: “I seek refuge from thee to (God) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear God.”  He said: “Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.”  She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?”  He said: “So (it will be): thy Lord saith, `That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: it is a matter (so) decreed.” (The Holy Quran, 19:16-21)

    The words of the angel, “and thou shalt keep him from wine and from strong drink and from every unclean meat because the child is a holy one of God.” in the Gospel tell us clearly that Jesus (peace be on him) never drank wine or other alcoholic beverages. This point should be worth remembering, as we proceed through the text.