The Vatican has requested that Turkey allow it to examine a 1500-year-old copy of an apocryphal gospel that was discovered by Turkish police during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000 and handed over to the Ankara Ethnography Museum, the Turkish Bugün daily reported on Thursday.
The daily said the document is reportedly written in Aramaic, the language Jesus is thought to have spoken, and is said to be worth TL 40 million. According to the report, the document was seized from a gang smuggling artifacts during a police operation in southern Turkey in 2010 and reportedly preserves its originality and many traces of the period it's from.
The gang was reportedly convicted of smuggling various items seized during the operation, including the text, and all the artifacts were kept in a safe in the Ankara Courthouse. The document, which was reportedly kept in the courthouse for years, was only recently handed over to the care of Ankara Ethnography Museum.
The leather-bound text is written on leather sheets and is now under protection as it is regarded as a valuable cultural asset. Even a Xerox copy of pages from the book is reported to be worth as much as TL 3-4 million.
Another Turkish daily, the Star, has claimed that it may be a copy of the much-debated Gospel of Barnabas, which Muslims claim is an original gospel that was later suppressed. The oldest existent copies of this gospel date back to the 16th century and are written in Italian and Spanish. However, the Gospel of Barnabas is not included in the four gospels that currently comprise the canonical New Testament -- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The Gospel of Barnabas contradicts the canonical New Testament account of Jesus and his ministry, but has strong parallels with the Islamic view of Jesus. Much of its content and themes parallel Islamic ideas and it includes a prediction by Jesus of the Prophet Muhammad coming to earth.