The leather-bound Bible was written on leather sheets and is now under protection as it is regarded as a valuable cultural asset. [Photo: Agency]
A handwritten Bible, believed to be 1,500 years old and is recently kept in the Ethnography Museum of Turkish capital Ankara, includes a drawing of the Last Supper, local media reports said on Friday.
The 52-page Bible is written in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, and consists the depiction of the Last Supper, which shows Jesus dining with his 12 Apostles, and also a depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus, a symbol of the sun and a cross, according to Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman.
The report added that there is also a depiction of a cave and a large rock which are thought to be the grave of Jesus.
Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay confirmed on Thursday that the 1,500-year-old Bible was discovered by policeman during an anti-smuggling operation in 2000 and is currently being kept in Ankara, according to Today's Zaman.
A smuggling gang seized during the operation was reportedly convicted of smuggling various items, including the Bible. After that, all the artifacts were kept in a safe at an Ankara courthouse.
The Bible, which was reportedly kept at the courthouse for years, was only recently handed over to the care of the Ethnography Museum of Ankara weeks ago, the newspaper quoted Zulkuf Yilmaz, head of the General Directorate of Museums and Cultural Assets, as saying.
The Bible will be sent abroad for carbon dating in order to determine its actual age, Yilmaz said, adding that the book will be put on public display after restoration.
Regarding claims that the book could in fact be the Gospel of Barnabas, Yilmaz said, "I hope that is the case."
The Gospel of Barnabas contradicts the canonical New Testament account of Jesus and his ministry but has strong parallels with the Islamic view of Jesus. Much of its content and themes are in line with Islamic ideas, and it includes a prediction by Jesus of the Prophet Muhammad coming to earth.