London: Iran has claimed that a leather-bound religious text, thought to date from the fifth century but discovered only 12 years ago, will cause the collapse of Christianity worldwide.
The book, written on animal hide, was confiscated during an anti-smuggling operation in Turkey’s Mediterranean region in 2000.
Turkish authorities believe it could be an authentic version of the Gospel by Jesus’ disciple Barnabas, and an Iranian press report has claimed that its contents will trigger Christianity’s downfall by proving that Islam is the final and righteous religion, the Daily Mail reported.
Others have dismissed the Iranian claims as ‘laughable’ anti-Christian propaganda.
The Basij Press has claimed that the text was written in the 5th or 6th century and it predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam.
It stated the Christian world denies the existence of such a gospel.
Basij claimed that Chapter 41 of the Gospel reads: “God has hidden himself as Archangel Michael ran them (Adam and Eve) out of heaven, (and) when Adam turned, he noticed that at top of the gateway to heaven, it was written ‘La elah ela Allah, Mohamad rasool Allah’,” meaning Allah is the only God and Mohammad his prophet.
The text states that Jesus was never crucified and that he himself predicted Muhammad’s coming, the Iranian report claimed.
The book, written in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, even predicts the coming of the last Islamic messiah, the report added.
Turkish authorities seized the text in 2000 in a crackdown on a gang who were charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations and the possession of explosives.
But excitement at the find only peaked in February this year, when it was reported that the Vatican had made an official request to view the book.
It is not known whether the request was granted.
Its origins are unknown, but National Turk reported that the book had been kept in the Justice Palace in the Turkish capital, Ankara, and was being transferred under armed police guard to the city’s Ethnography Museum.
First Published: Friday, May 25, 2012, 13:12