Barnabas (/ˈbɑːrnəbəs/; Syriac: ܒܪܢܒܐ; Ancient Greek: Βαρνάβας), born Joseph (Ἰωσήφ) or Joses (Ἰωσής),[1] was according to tradition an early Christian, one of the prominent Christian disciples in Jerusalem. According to Acts 4:36, Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew. Named an apostle in Acts 14:14,[2] he and Paul the Apostle undertook missionary journeys together and defended Gentile converts against the Judaizers. They traveled together making more converts (c. 46–48), and participated in the Council of Jerusalem (c. 49). Barnabas and Paul successfully evangelized among the "God-fearing" Gentiles who attended synagogues in various Hellenized cities of Anatolia.

Apostle and Bishop of Milan
ChurchEarly Church
MetropolisMilan and Cyprus
SeeMilan and Cyprus
SuccessorSt. Anathalon of Milan
Personal details
DiedSalamis, Roman Cyprus
Alma materSchool of Gamaliel
Feast day11 June
Venerated in
AttributesRed Martyr, Pilgrim's staff; olive branch; holding the Gospel of Matthew
PatronageCyprus, Antioch, against hailstorms, invoked as peacemaker, peacekeeping missions
ShrinesMonastery of St Barnabas in Famagusta, Cyprus

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,[3] but this and other attributions are conjecture. The Epistle of Barnabas was ascribed to him by Clement of Alexandria and others in the early church[4] and the epistle is included under his name in Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest extant manuscript of the complete New Testament.[5] A few modern scholars concur with this traditional attribution[6] but it is presently a minority view.[7]

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

Barnabas is usually identified as the cousin of Mark the Evangelist on the basis of the term "anepsios" used in Colossians 4, which carries the connotation of "cousin." Orthodox tradition holds that Aristobulus of Britannia, one of the Seventy Disciples, was the brother of Barnabas.[8]

Name and etymologies edit

His Hellenic Jewish parents called him Joseph (although the Byzantine text-type calls him Ἰωσῆς, Iōsēs, 'Joses', a Greek variant of 'Joseph'),[1] but when recounting the story of how he sold his land and gave the money to the apostles in Jerusalem, the Book of Acts says the apostles called him Barnabas. (The "s" at the end is the Greek nominative case ending, and it is not present in the Aramaic form.) The Greek text of Acts 4:36 explains the name as υἱὸς παρακλήσεως, hyios paraklēseōs, meaning "son of encouragement" or "son of comforter". One theory is that this is from the Aramaic בר נחמה, bar neḥmā, meaning 'son (of) prophet'. Another is that it is related to the Hebrew word nabī (נביא, Aramaic nebī) meaning "prophet".[9][10] In the Syriac Bible, the phrase "son of prophet" is translated bara dbuya'a.[11]

Biblical narrative edit

Barnabas curing the sick by Paolo Veronese, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, c. 1566

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

Barnabas, a native of Cyprus and a Levite, is first mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem, who sold the land that he owned and gave the proceeds to the community.[1] When the future Paul the Apostle returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas introduced him to the apostles. Easton, in his Bible Dictionary, supposes that they had been fellow students in the school of Gamaliel.[12]

The successful preaching of Christianity at Antioch to non-Jews led the church at Jerusalem to send Barnabas there to oversee the movement. He found the work so extensive and weighty that he went to Tarsus in search of Paul (still referred to as Saul), "an admirable colleague", to assist him. Paul returned with him to Antioch and labored with him for a whole year. At the end of this period, the two were sent up to Jerusalem (44 AD) with contributions from the church at Antioch for the relief of the poorer Christians in Judea.[13]

They returned to Antioch taking John Mark with them, the cousin or nephew of Barnabas. Later, they went to Cyprus and some of the principal cities of Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia. After recounting what the governor of Cyprus Sergius Paulus believed, Acts 13:9[14] speaks of Barnabas's spiritual brother no longer as Saul, but as Paul, his Roman name, and generally refers to the two no longer as "Barnabas and Saul" as heretofore, but as "Paul and Barnabas". Only in Acts 14:14[2] and Acts 15:12–25[15] does Barnabas again occupy the first place, in the first passage with recollection of Acts 14:12,[16] in the last 2, because Barnabas stood in closer relation to the Jerusalem church than Paul. Paul appears as the more eloquent missionary, whence the Lystrans regarded him as Hermes and Barnabas as Zeus.[13]

Acts 14:14[2] is also the unique biblical topic where Saint Barnabas is called with the Greek word for Apostle.[17]

Saints Paul and Barnabas at Lystra (Sacrifice at Lystra) by Bartholomeus Breenberg, 1637, Princeton University Art Museum

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.[13] According to Galatians 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 without having to adopt Jewish practices.

After they had returned to Antioch from the Jerusalem council, they spent some time there. Peter came and associated freely there with the Gentiles, eating with them, until criticized for this by some disciples of James, as against Mosaic law. Upon their remonstrances, Peter yielded apparently through fear of displeasing them, and refused to eat any longer with the Gentiles. Barnabas followed his example. Paul considered that they "walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel" and upbraided them before the whole church.[18] In Galatians 2:11–13,[19] Paul 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."

Paul then asked Barnabas to accompany him on another journey. Barnabas wished to take John Mark along, but Paul did not, as he had left them on the earlier journey. 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.[18]

Little is known of the subsequent career of Barnabas. He was still living and labouring as an Apostle in 56 or 57, when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (9:5–6), in which it is stated that he, too, like Paul, earned his own living. The reference indicates also that the friendship between the two was unimpaired. When Paul was a prisoner in Rome (61–63), John Mark was attached to him as a disciple, which is regarded as an indication that Barnabas was no longer living (Colossians 4:10).[18]

Barnabas and Antioch edit

Antioch, the third-most important city of the Roman Empire,[20] then the capital city of Syria province, today Antakya, Turkey, was where Christians were first called thus.[21]

Some of those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went to Antioch, which became the site of an early Christian community.[22] 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.[23]

Martyrdom edit

Apostle, Disciple, Preacher, and Martyr
Born1st century AD
Salamis, Roman Cyprus
DiedSalamis, Roman Cyprus
Venerated inCatholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion, Lutheran Church
Major shrineMonastery of St Barnabas in Famagusta, Cyprus
FeastJune 11
AttributesRed Martyr, Pilgrim's staff; olive branch; holding the Gospel of Matthew
PatronageCyprus, Antioch, against hailstorms, invoked as peacemaker

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.[24] 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.[25]

Although it is believed he was martyred by being stoned, the apocryphal Acts of Barnabas states that he was bound with a rope by the neck, and then being dragged only to the site where he would be burned to death.

According to the History of the Cyprus Church,[26] in 478 Barnabas appeared in a dream to the Archbishop Anthemios of Cyprus 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, believed to be that of St. Barnabas and Anthemios.[27]

St. Barnabas is venerated as the patron saint of Cyprus. He is also considered a patron saint in many other places in the world, highlighting Milan in Italy. On the island of Tenerife (Spain), St. Barnabas was invoked in historical times as patron saint and protector of the island's fields against drought, together with St. Benedict of Nursia.[28]

Barnabas the Apostle is remembered in the Church of England with a festival on 11 June.[29]

Other sources edit

Although many assume that the biblical Mark the cousin of Barnabas[30] is the same as John Mark[31] and Mark the Evangelist, the traditionally believed author of the Gospel of Mark, they are listed as three distinct people in Pseudo-Hippolytus' On the Seventy Apostles of Christ, which includes Barnabas himself as one of the Seventy-Two Disciples.[32] 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, and Barnabas is traditionally credited with founding the apostolic see of Milan. Clement of Alexandria[33] also makes Barnabas one of the Seventy Disciples that are mentioned in the Gospel of Luke.[34]

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.

Cypriots developed the tradition of his later activity and martyrdom no earlier than the 3rd century. The question whether Barnabas was an apostle was often discussed during the Middle Ages.[35]

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. Modern biblical scholarship considers its authorship unknown, though Barnabas amongst others has been proposed as potential authors.[36]

"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."[37]

He is also traditionally associated with the Epistle of Barnabas, although some modern scholars think it more likely that the 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.[38] 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 Barnabites edit

In 1538, the Catholic religious order officially known as "Clerics Regular of St. Paul" (Clerici Regulares Sancti Pauli), gained the grand old Monastery of Saint Barnabas by the city wall of Milan as their main seat. The Order was thenceforth known by the popular name of Barnabites.[39]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b c   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainToy, Crawford Howell; Kohler, Kaufmann (1901–1906). "Barnabas: Joses". In Singer, Isidore; et al. (eds.). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2009-04-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  2. ^ a b c Acts 14:14
  3. ^ Tertullian, De Pudicitia (On Modesty), 20.2
  4. ^ Origen (Contra Celsum, 1.63; De Principii, 3.2.4), Serapion of Thmuis (Concerning Father and Son), Didymus the Blind (Commentary on Zechariah), Jerome (Lives of Illustrious Men, 6), et al.
  5. ^ GA 01 (ℵ), London: Sinaiticus, library BL, folio 334. Dated to c. 340 AD. [1]
  6. ^ J.B. Burger, "L'Enigme de Barnabas," 180-193; and Simon Tugwell, The Apostolic Fathers, 44; cf. Lardner, Wake, Pearson, Gieseler, et al.
  7. ^ Joseph Tixeront, Handbook of Patrology: First Period, Section I: The Apostolic Fathers
  8. ^ "Apostle Aristobulus of the Seventy the Bishop of Britain". Calendar of Saints. Orthodox Church in America. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  9. ^ Stern 1992, p. 235–236.
  10. ^ "Barnabas". BibleHub. Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2019-03-06. Gives Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.
  11. ^ "Acts 4". BibleHub. Archived from the original on 2019-03-06. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  12. ^ "Barnabas". Archived from the original on 2016-03-16. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  13. ^ a b c ""Saint Barnabas", Saint of the Day, Franciscan Media". Archived from the original on 2021-09-27. Retrieved 2021-09-27.
  14. ^ Acts 13:9
  15. ^ Acts 15:12–25
  16. ^ Acts 14:12
  17. ^ "Acts 14 with the Greek-English intelrinear text". Archived from the original on July 9, 2021. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainFenlon, John Francis (1907). "St. Barnabas". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  19. ^ Galatians 2:11–13
  20. ^ Cross & Livingstone 2005, p. 78, Antioch.
  21. ^ Acts 11:26
  22. ^ Arbez 1907.
  23. ^ Durant 1944, p. 583.
  24. ^ Cross & Livingstone 2005, p. 160, Barnabas.
  25. ^ Fleetwood 1874, p. 600.
  26. ^ Church of Cyprus, History of Cyprus Church, The Autocephaly of the Cyprus Church Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Cyprus Commemorative Stamp issue: 1900th Death Anniversary of Apostle Barnabas, Archived 2012-11-28 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "San Benito, patrón por sorteo de los frutos y ganados de Tenerife desde 1535. Por Carlos Rodríguez Morales (y III)". 29 June 2018.
  29. ^ "The Calendar". The Church of England. Archived from the original on 2021-03-09. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  30. ^ Colossians 4:10
  31. ^ Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37
  32. ^ Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 255–6
  33. ^ Stromata, ii, 20
  34. ^ 10:1ff
  35. ^ Compare C. J. Hefele, Das Sendschreiben des Apostels Barnabas, Tübingen, 1840; Otto Braunsberger, "Der Apostel Barnabas," Mainz, 1876.
  36. ^ Mitchell, Alan C. Hebrews (Liturgical Press, 2007) p. 6.
  37. ^ Commentary on the Acts Archived 2014-06-18 at the Wayback Machine 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
  38. ^ Compare T. Zahn, Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons, ii, 292, Leipsig, 1890.
  39. ^   Zöckler, O. (1908). "Barnabites". In Jackson, Samuel Macauley (ed.). New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Vol. 1 (third ed.). London and New York: Funk and Wagnalls.

References edit


Further reading edit

External links edit

Catholic Church titles
New creation Bishop of Cyprus
Succeeded by
Gelasios of Cyprus (325)
New creation Bishop of Milan
Succeeded by