On Thursday Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay confirmed reports that a 1,500-year-old Bible that was discovered by police during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000 is being kept in Ankara today.
A smuggling gang was reportedly convicted of smuggling various items seized during the operation, including the Bible, and all the artifacts were kept in a safe at an Ankara courthouse. The Bible, which was reportedly kept at the courthouse for years, was only recently handed over to the care of the Ethnography Museum of Ankara.
The handwritten Bible also includes a depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus, a symbol of the sun and a cross. There is also a depiction of a cave and a large rock in the Bible that are thought to be the grave of Jesus.
The Bible will be sent abroad for examination where carbon dating will used to determine the book’s actual age. Zülküf yılmaz, head of the General Directorate of Museums and Cultural Assets, said the Bible was entrusted to the judiciary in 2003 and only sent to the Ethnography Museum several weeks ago. Regarding claims that the book could in fact be the Gospel of Barnabas, Yılmaz said: “I have seen such claims in the media. I hope that is the case.” 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 are in line with Islamic ideas, and it includes a prediction by Jesus of the Prophet Muhammad coming to earth.
Yılmaz added that the Bible would be put on public display after restoration.