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The Original Bible,
This review is from: The Epistle Of Barnabas From The Sinaitic Manuscript Of The Bible (1880) (Paperback)
As a Primitivist, I care a lot about what the Early Church did, and how they thought. It matters more to me what they considered scripture than what we have as the final result through some political maneuverings post-Constantine three centuries later. Since this Epistle was considered scripture by a large portion of the Early Church, and was never considered heterodox, I value the wisdom contained therein.
I must say, skip over the commentary by Sharpe. Skip over it completely. It's really pretty bad. Yes, it is outdated from 1880, but it was pretty biased to begin with, and full of loaded language. Unfortunately, it's not easy to get ahold of a copy of the Epistle of Barnabas, so if you can, Sharpe's is fine. And there are a couple items in there that help in an explanation of the Greek. But mostly you'll find his biased notions will creep into your thoughts as you read it, if you read Sharpe first. Read the Epistle first, and then, if you need to, once you've formed your own opinion, go back to Sharpe. For that matter, stop reading this review and go read the Epistle before continuing.
Within the text, I was disappointed, and perhaps to influenced by Sharpe. While there was nothing heterodox, there wasn't much new here, and what was was often rather far-fetched. This is suitable for the Alexandrian School with it's greater focus on analogy, but it hasn't aged well. Certainly, there are some stretched analogies by the author of Hebrews, but the author of Epistle goes further. Sharpe is incorrect when he argues that the Epistle author is Gnostic- there is a strong emphasis on the value of the physical realm and the fleshliness of Jesus. Sharpe also places too great a belief on this actually being written by Barnabas.
All together, one can see why this book didn't make the final cut. It says nothing wrong, but lacks punch. What is said here is said better in the writings of Paul and the Hebrews. My one regret is that this book- along with the other early canonical works of the Didache, Shepherd of Hermes, and I Clement- states unequivocally that abortion is wrong. Not infanticide- abortion as well. We are never given to know what might have been, but one is forced to wonder how much easier the ethical conversation might be if even one of our holy books explicitly condemned abortion- as did the universal Early Church.