Abu Saymeh never read a New Testament text before he was picked for the prestigious assignment by Bethlehem's Christian mayor. He said he has since come to appreciate the shared strands of the two faiths.
"I found that many of the things emphasized in Christianity exist in our religion," said the 51-year-old Abu Saymeh.
The artist has nearly completed the Gospel's text, which will eventually cover 65 poster-sized pages. It will be accompanied by colored drawings depicting the life of Christ, from the Nativity to the crucifixion.
The pope will receive the gift on May 13, when he visits Bethlehem as part of a pilgrimage that also includes stops in Nazareth and Jerusalem, the other focal points in the life of Jesus. MORE ON THIS HERE