A recent article (here) in the York [Pennsylvania] Daily Record features the research of Messiah College professor Dr. Michael Cosby. Cosby received a Fulbright Grant to do this research in Cyprus, a place associated with the life of Barnabas.
Barnabas is best known to most of us because of his association with the Apostle Paul on the first missionary journey. He is mentioned more than 20 times in the Book of Acts. Other than that, he is mentioned 3 times in Galatians 2, and once each in 1 Corinthians and Colossians.
We understand from Luke’s account that Barnabas, also known as Joseph, was a Levite of Cyprus (Acts 4:36). The first stop on the First Journey was at Salamis on the eastern end of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus (Acts 13:1-5). There the preachers spoke in the synagogue of the Jews, and later on the western end of the island at Paphos.
When Paul and Barnabas had a dispute prior to the Second Journey, Barnabas took his cousin Mark and went to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41).
Nothing else is mentioned in the Bible about Barnabas and the island of Cyprus. But a great amount of tradition has grown up on the island. It is this tradition that Prof. Cosby studied, and he researched the association of the tradition to the modern Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, and the privileges granted to the Cypriot archbishops.
Having just visited Cyprus last year I find this a fascinating article. Perhaps you will enjoy it.
According to a tradition dating back to 488 A.D., the sepulcher of Barnabas was discovered by Anthemios, the Archbishop of Constantia and placed in a church he built near the tomb. The photo below shows the now-empty church near the ruins of Roman Salamis.
The Church of Barnabas at Salamis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Salamis is now located in the the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or as the folks in the south of Cyprus say, “the occupied territory.”
How long would it take to provide photo illustrations for Acts 13? Here are some of the places and persons we might consider.
- Syrian Antioch
- Salamis, Cyprus
- Paphos, Cyprus
- Sergius Paulus
- Perga in Pamphylia
- Pisidian Antioch
Not to mention the historical references in Paul’s sermon in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch. (You can find posts about most, if not all, of the above list by using the Search box.)
For today, I have chosen to call attention to Barnabas and his association with Cyprus. The first stop made by Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark on Cyprus was at the eastern port of Salamis. A few miles west of the harbor and ancient city we now have the Monastery and Church of St. Barnabas. Salamis, and this building, are now located in the Turkish Republic of Norther Cyprus. The folks in the south, the Republic of Cyprus, speak of the north as occupied territory. (I leave the politics of the issue for others.) The monastery and church, erected in A.D. 477, now houses an icon museum and a small archaeological museum.
Tradition has it that Barnabas was martyred by Jews on Cyprus, but we have no evidence to back up this assertion.
Late 5th century church of St. Barnabas at Salamis, Cyprus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
Acts 4:36 informs us that Joseph was also called Barnabas by the apostles. The name Barnabas means Son of Encouragement or Exhortation. He must have been an eloquent speaker, especially good at exhorting and encouraging others. He was generous with his property, a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith (Acts 11:24).
Barnabas was of the tribe of Levi and a native of the island of Cyprus. He later introduced Saul of Tarsus (Paul) to the brethren in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-27) and preached in Antioch (Acts 11:22-30). Barnabas, and his cousin John Mark (Colossians 4:10), joined Saul for the first preaching journey (Acts 13-14).
After a sharp disagreement between Barnabas and Paul, Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus (Acts 15:39). One wonders if Mark also was a native of Cyprus.