The Epistle of Barnabas: Part 1


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Writings of the Church Fathers

Religion & Spirituality

“Though the letter really is anonymous, its traditional title connects it with the famous name of the one-time companion of the apostle Paul. Could it actually have been written by that Barnabas? Or was the author some other man named Barnabas? Or did the name get attached for some other reason? We do not know, but by the year 200, Clement of Alexandria had attributed it to Paul’s companion. What we do know is that the Letter of Barnabas was widely read in the church during the second and third centuries. Clement, who lived in Alexandria from about 180 to 203, quoted Barnabas as ‘Scripture’….[W]hen Athanasius gave his list of (1) canonical Scripture and (2) other books ‘read’ in the fourth-century Alexandria, Barnabas appeared in neither list. Eusebius, the church historian of the same period, was dubious about its canonical claim, and Jerome in the same century called it apocryphal. Nevertheless a fourth-century Greek manuscript of the Scriptures places it right after Johns Revelation.” Jack N. Sparks ed., The Apostolic Fathers (Thomas Nelson, 1978), 263-264.