A shocking claim based on an ancient so-called “lost gospel” held under lock and key in Turkey has resurfaced which claims the traitor Judas was put on the cross in place of Christ.
Barnabas, one of Jesus’s 12 disciples, is said to have written the ancient text and the controversial “Gospel» claims Jesus was never crucified on the mount in Calvary.
Scholars have slammed the document as a “forgery” and one which is a “laughable challenge to Christianity”.
The text claims Jesus ascended to heaven before Judas Iscariot could lead Roman soldiers to him on the Mount of Olives.
Judas is then transformed into the appearance of Jesus and snatched by the Romans – becoming the one who suffered and died on the Cross.
His body is then stolen from the grave, sparking rumours of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday.
However, Jesus then returned to Earth to tell his disciples the truth of what happened before ascending back to Heaven.
Advocates of the text claim it could “collapse Christianity”, but experts remain unconvinced and branded the book a “hoax”.
Earlier this year, the allged tomb of Jesus Christ was opened to the public for the first time ever in Jerusalem.
A leather-bound religious text claimed to be Gospel of Barnabas was discovered by Turkish authorities during an anti-smuggling raid in 2000 in Cyprus.
It was hidden for 12 years before it finally resurfaced, to fanfare from Islamic leaders in Iran.
Hyper-religious Iranian press reported the book would cause the “collapse of Christianity”
The claims were dismissed as «laughable», but there were rumours the Vatican had requested to see the text when its discovery was first announced in 2012.
It is claimed to have been kept in secret in the Justice Palace in Ankara, before being transferred under armed guard to the city’s Ethnography Museum.
Daily Star Online previously revealed claims about the lost «Gospel of Jesus» which was secretly the Holy Grail hunted by the Knights Templar.
Vatican expert Maroc Tosatti dismissed the text in an article for La Stampa.
He wrote: “This extraordinary discovery is probably a hoax, the work of a forger who, according to some, could have been a European scholar from the Middle Ages.”
He added scholars believe the author “mixed facts and elements” from both the bible and Islamic Qu’ran and the gospels – but added “his intentions are still unknown”.
Iran’s Basij Press – which represents the Ayatollah’s hardline militia group, part of the Army of the Guardian of the Islamic Revolution –claims the text could trigger the end of Christianity.
The mouthpiece said: “The discovery of the original Barnabas Bible will now undermine the Christian Church and its authority and will revolutionise the religion in the world.
“The most significant fact, though, is that this Bible has predicted the coming of Prophet Mohammad and in itself has verified the religion of Islam, and this alone will unbalance the powers of the world and create instability in the Christian world.”
The story from the Gospel of Barnabas was also turned into an Iranian filmed called The Messiah.
Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, a Christian order with roots in Egypt, condemned the book as a hoax .
He said “a book full of also historical and geographical errors, the work of a forger» and blasted it as having “no value and no useful advice for life today”.
There is major controversy over the age of the book, with proponents of the text claiming it was written more than 1,500 years ago, but others calling it a forgery penned in the 16th century.
Christian gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John form the New Testament and the canonical story of Jesus of Nazareth.
These texts date to around 300 years earlier than even the earliest datings of the alleged Gospel of Barnabas.
The book also refers to Eve from the creation story eating an apple – but the motif of an apple in the book of Genesis did not appear until the Medieval period.
Barnabas’s “gospel” also appears to make reference to Dante’s Inferno and the seven circles of hell – but this famous text was not published until 1472.
Phil Lawler, writing for Catholic Culture, dismissed the text as a «laughable Iranian challenge to Christianity» that «couldn’t very well have been by someone who was travelling with St. Paul».
Elsewhere, scientists from Tel Aviv University in Israel and College de France are to probing the location of the biblical Ark of the Convenant in Jerusalem.