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.

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.

Moreover he says to them in Deuteronomy, And I will make a covenant of my ordinances with this people. So then the ordinance of God is not abstinence from eating, but Moses spoke in the spirit.

He mentioned the swine for this reason: you shall not consort, he means, with men who are like swine, that is to say, when they have plenty they forget the Lord, but when they are in want they recognise the Lord, just as the swine when it eats does not know its master, but when it is hungry it cries out, and after receiving food is again silent.

Neither shalt thou eat the eagle nor the hawk nor the kite nor the crow. Thou shalt not, he means, join thyself or make thyself like to such men, as do not know how to gain their food by their labour and sweat, but plunder other people’s property in their iniquity, and lay wait for it, though they seem to walk in innocence, and look round to see whom they may plunder in their covetousness, just as these birds alone provide no food for themselves, but sit idle, and seek how they may devour the flesh of others, and become pestilent in their iniquity.

Thou shalt not eat, he says, the lamprey nor the polypus nor the cuttlefish. Thou shalt not, he means, consort with or become like such men who are utterly ungodly and who are already condemned

to death, just as these fish alone are accursed, and float in the deep water, not swimming like the others but living on the ground at the bottom of the sea.