The Epistle of Barnabas

Barnabae epistula

Barnabas. The Apostolic Fathers with an English Translation In Two Volumes. Vol. I. Lake, Kirsopp, translator. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd. 1912.

And for this reason the things which were thus done are plain to us, but obscure to them, because they did not hear the Lord’s voice.

For he speaks again concerning the ears, how[*](The circumcision) he circumcised our hearts; for the Lord says in the Prophet: In the hearing of the ear they obey me. And again he says, They who are afar off shall hear clearly, they shall know the things that I have done, and Circumcise your hearts, saith the Lord.

And again he says, Hear, O Israel, thus saith the Lord thy God, and again the Spirit of the Lord prophesies, Who is he that will live for ever? Let him hear the voice of my servant.

And again he says, Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken these things for a testimony. And again he says, Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of this people. And again he says, Hear, O children, a voice of one crying in the wilderness. So then he circumcised our hearing in order that we should hear the word and believe.

But moreover the circumcision in which they trusted has been abolished. For he declared that circumcision was not of the flesh, but they erred because an evil angel

was misleading them.

He says to them, Thus saith the Lord your God (here I find a commandment), Sow not among thorns, be circumcised to your Lord. And what does he say? Circumcise the hardness of your heart, and stiffen not your neck. Take it again: Behold, saith the Lord, all the heathen are uncircumcised in the foreskin, but this people is uncircumcised in heart.

But you will say, surely the people has received circumcision as a seal? Yes, but every Syrian and Arab and all priests of the idols have been circumcised; are then these also within their [*](I.e. of the Jews.) covenant?—indeed even the Egyptians belong to the circumcision.

Learn fully then, children of love, concerning all things, for Abraham, who first circumcised, did so looking forward in the spirit to Jesus, and had received the doctrines of three letters.

For it says, And Abraham circumcised from his household eighteen men and three hundred. [*](In Greek, which expresses numerals by letters, this is ΤΙΗ.) What then was the knowledge that was given to him? Notice that he first mentions the eighteen, and after a pause the three hundred. The eighteen is Ι (= ten) and Η ( = 8)—you have Jesus[*](Because ΙΗ are in Greek the first letters of the word Jesus.)—and because the cross was destined to have grace in the Τ he says and three hundred.[*](The Greek symbol for is Τ.) So he indicates Jesus in the two letters and the cross in the other.

He knows this who placed the gift of his teaching in our hearts. No one has heard a more excellent lesson from me, but I know that you are worthy.

Now, in that Moses said, Ye shall not eat[*](The Food-law of the Jews) swine, nor an eagle, nor a hawk, nor a crow, nor any fish which has no scales on itself, he included three doctrines in his understanding.