Acts of Barnabas

Acta Barnabae apostoli

Standard abbreviation: Acts Barn.

Other titles: Travels and Martyrdom of Saint Barnabas the Apostle

Clavis numbers: CANT 285, BHG 225

Category: Apocryphal Acts

Related literature: Passion of Mark, Acts of Mark, Encomium on Barnabas by Alexander Monachus, Travels and Martyrdom of Saints Bartholomew and Barnabas

Compiled by Tony Burke, York University ( based upon work by Glenn E. Snyder.

Citing this resource (using Chicago Manual of Style): Burke, Tony. “Acts of Barnabas.” e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR.

Posted August 2017.


Acts Barn. is a collection of stories about Barnabas and John Mark, two figures who join the Jerusalem church after the death of Jesus. Allegedly written by this same John Mark, the text begins with an autobiographical account of his baptism into Christianity in Iconium and his re-christening as “Mark” in a subsequent vision. He then accompanies Paul and Barnabas on a journey Antioch via Seleucia, Cyprus, and Perga. There Mark faces approbation from Paul for delaying in Pamphylia. Paul refuses to have Mark travel with him to Jerusalem, so Barnabas and Mark depart from Paul and travel through Cilicia to Cyprus. Along the way they stop in Anemurium and convert two Greek sailors, one of whom is named Stephen, to the faith. In Cyprus they meet two former temple-slaves, Timon and Ariston. Barnabas has in his possession a copy of what appears to be the Gospel of Matthew, which he applies to the sick and heals them. They travel through various cities and come across a processional of naked men and women from a temple; Barnabas rebukes the temple and it falls, killing and wounding many people. They also encounter resistance from a group of Judeans who are subject to Bar-Jesus, the man blinded by Paul in Acts 13:6–12. They come to Salamis and establish churches and station officials in them. Barnabas begins to teach Jews there from the Gospel of Matthew. Influenced by Bar-Jesus, they seize Barnabas and set him on fire. John Mark is able to save his remains from being cast into the sea and buried them in a cavern along with the Gospel of Matthew. They hide from he Judeans and, with Ariston and Rhodon, make their way to Alexandria. There Mark remains preaching and baptizing.

Named historical figures and characters: Aristoclianus, Ariston, Bar-Jesus, Barnabas, Cyrus (priest of Zeus), Euphemus, Heracleides, Holy Spirit, Hypatius (governor of Salamis), Jesus Christ, John Mark, Lucius (Luke the evangelist?), Matthew (apostle), Nero, Paul (apostle), Rhodon, Silas, Stephen, Timon.

Geographical locations: Aconesiae, Alexandria, Amathus, Anemurium, Antioch, Cape Krommyon, Citium, Corasium, Corina, Curium, Cyprus, Iconium, Jerusalem, Lampadistus, Laodicea, Lapithus, Ledrai, Limnes, Old Isauria, Old Paphos (Kouklia), Pamphylia, Perga, Pityusa (Dana Island), Salamis, Seleucia, Tamasus, Troodos Mountains.


2.1 Web Sites

“Acts of Barnabas.” Wikipedia.


3.1 Manuscripts and Editions

3.1.1 Greek

Recension Σ

B Mount Athos, Vatopedi, 84, fols. 128–30 (9th/10th cent.) (Bonnet did not provide precise identification in his edition, but this is likely the correct manuscript)

M  Messina, San Salvatore di Fitalia, gr. 29, fols. 81–83 (12th cent.)

Q  Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, gr. 1219, fols. 31v–37v (11th cent.)

U  Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Vat. gr. 821, fols. 99v–103 (13th cent.)

V  Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Vat. gr. 1667, fols. 105–110 (11th cent.)

Bolland, Jean et al., eds. Acta Sanctorum, Iunii. Vol. 2. Antwerp: P. Jacobs 1698; 3rd ed. Paris: V. Palmé, 1863 (editio princeps by Daniel Papebroek based on V, pp. 431–35; 3rd ed. pp. 425–29).

Bonnet, Maximilien. “Acta Barnabae.” Pages xvii–xxviii and 292–302 in vol. 2.2 of Acta apostolorum apocrypha. Edited by Richard Adelbert Lipsius and Maximilien Bonnet. 2 vols. in 3. Leipzig: H. Mendelssohn, 1903; repr. Hildesheim: Olms, 1972 (B, M, Q, and U added to V).

Recension P

P Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, gr. 1470, fols. 55 v–57v, 66–67 (890)

Tischendorf, Constantin. Acta apostolorum apocrypha. Leipzig: Avenarius et Mendelssohn, 1851 (incorporates P into text; introduction p. xxvi–xxxi, edition pp. 64–74).

Additional Manuscripts

Cambridge, University Library, Add. 4489, fols. 11r–11v (8th cent.)

Cambridge, University Library, Fonds ancien LI.V.2–3 (2200–2201), pp. 114–119 (17th cent.)

Messina, San Salvatore di Fitalia, gr. 26, fols. 59–63v (13th cent.)

Mount Athos, Monê Koutloumousiou, 2 (Lambros 3071), fols. 202–208 (9th/10th cent.)

Mount Athos, Monê Megistês Lauras, Γ 087 (Eustratiades 327), fols. 221–225 (11th cent.)

Mount Athos, Monê Philotheou, 8 (Lambros 1771), fols. 62v–65v (11th cent.)

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, gr. 1179A, fol. 2 (11th cent.)

3.1.2 Latin (Vita et passio Barnabae; BHL 985)

Recension Casinensis (c)

Recension ad Nausea (n)

Mombritius, Boninus, ed. Sanctuarium seu Vitae sanctorum. Novam editionem curaverunt duo monachi Solesmenses. Paris: 1910; repr. New York: Hildesheim, 1978 (critical edition of recension n, pp. 130–35).

Tosti, Luigi, ed. Bibliotheca Casinensis seu codicum manuscriptorum qui in tabulario Casinensi asseruantur series III: Florilegeum. Monte Cassino: Ex Typographia Casinensi, 1877 (critical edition of recension c, pp. 354–57).

3.1.3 Slavonic

Otero, Aurelio de Santos. Die handschriftliche Überlieferung der altslavischen Apokryphen. PTS 20. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1978 (description of text and sources, pp. 136–37)

Kaluznjackij, Emil. “Sborniki Njameckogo Monstyrja Nnr. 20 i 106 [164].” Sbornik Otdelenija Russkago Jazyka i Slovesnosti Imp. Akademii Nauk 83/2 (1907): 50–57 (critical edition of fifteenth century Bucharest manuscript).

 3.2 Translations

3.2.1 English

Riddle, Matthew Brown, trans. “The Acts of Barnabas.” Pages 493–96 in vol. 8 of ANF (translation of Tischendorf’s edition).

Snyder, Glenn E. “The Acts of Barnabas: A New Translation and Introduction.” Pages 317–36 in New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures. Vol. 1. Edited by Tony Burke and Brent Landau. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016 (translation of Bonnet’s edition).

 3.2.2 French

Norelli, Enrico. “Actes de Barnabé.” Pages 617–42 in volume 2 of Écrits apocryphes chrétiens. Edited by Pierre Geoltrain and Jean-Daniel Kaestli. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade 516. Paris: Gallimard, 2005.

3.2.3 Italian

Erbetta, Mario. Gli Apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento. 3 vols. in 4. Turin: Marietti, 1966–1981 (introduction and translation in vol. 2, pp. 595–600).

3.3 General Works

Callahan, Allen Dwight. “The Acts of Mark: Tradition, Transmission, and Translation of the Arabic Version.” Pages 63–85 in The Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles. Edited by François Bovon, Ann Graham Brock, and Christopher R. Matthews. Harvard Divinity School Studies; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

__________. “The Acts of Saint Mark: An Introduction and Translation.” Coptic Church Review 14:1 (1993): 3–10.

Czachesz, Istaván. Commission Narratives: A Comparative Study of the Canonical and Apocryphal Acts. Leuven: Peeters, 2007 (see particularly pp. 184–207).

Delehaye, Hippolyte. “Saints de Chypre.” AnBoll 26 (1907): 161–301.

Dilley, Paul C. “The Invention of Christian Tradition: ‘Apocrypha,’ Imperial Policy, and Anti-Jewish Propaganda.” GRBS 50 (2010): 586–615.

Hackett, John. A History of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. London: Methuen & Co., 1901.

Lipsius, Richard A. Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden. 2 vols. Braunschweig: Schwetschke, 1883–1887 (Acts Barn. is examined in 2:270–320).

Read-Heimerdinger, Jenny. “Barnabas in Acts: A Study of His Role in the Text of Codex Bezae.” JSNT 72 (1998): 22–66.

Schwartz, Daniel R. “The End of the Line: Paul in the Canonical Book of Acts.” Pages 3–24 in Paul and the Legacies of Paul. Edited by William S. Babcock. Dallas: SMU Press, 1990.

Starowieyski, M. “Datation des Actes (Voyages) de S. Barnabé (BHG 225; ClAp 285) et du Panégyrique de S. Barnabé par Alexandre le Moine (BHG 226; CPG 7400; ClAp 286).” Pages 193–98 in Philohistor. Miscellanea in honorem Caroli Laga septuagenarii. Edited by A. Schoors and Peter Van Deun. OLA 60. Leuven: Peeters, 1994.

Van Deun, Peter and Jaques Noret, eds. Hagiographica cypria. Sancti Barnabae laudatio auctore Alexandro monacho. CCSG 26. Turnhout: Brepols; Leuven: University Press, 1993.

Young, Philip H. “The Cypriot Aphrodite Cult: Paphos, Rantidi, and Saint Barnabas.” JNES 64.1 (2005): 23–44.