An ancient codex written on animal hide and discovered by anti-smuggler investigators in Turkey might possibly be the long-lost Gospel of Barnabas, experts say.
Iranian officials believe the text to be the authentic Gospel written by Barnabas, who was a disciple of Jesus. In an official statement from Iran's hard-line government, it is claimed that the document is genuine and that it will "cause the collapse of Christianity" throughout the world and realign global powers.
The text was discovered in 2000 after smugglers tried to take the ancient manuscript, believed to be from the the 5th Century, out of the Turkey. The codex has been housed at the Justice Palace in the Turkish capital of Ankara since being confiscated.
Iranian clerics claim that the text implies that Jesus was never crucified and that Jesus predicted Muhammad's coming. The codex, written in ancient Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, also predicts the coming of the final Islamic Messiah, according to the Iranian report.
Although discovered in 2000, excitement over the text only began to grow in January of this year, after officials with the Holy See in the Vatican made an official request to the Turkish government to view the manuscript to verify its authenticity.
Critics claim the codex is being exploited by the Iranian government as propaganda in its war against Christianity.