Eric, a Muslim wrote: (in the comboxes of Paul Bilal Williams blog) [ No longer there, as Paul B. Williams has changed his blogs several times over the last few years.]
I wonder how can a piece of literature which is not authored either by God, Jesus (p) or his disciples became ultimately accepted as the word of God by lay Christians and It is now the favorite gospel of many Christians…?
Ibn Ishaq, (died around 767 AD), who wrote the oldest biography (called the “Sira” or “Sirat” سیره or سیرت ) of the prophet of Islam, quotes John 15:23-16:1 and says that it is taken from the Gospel (Injeel) of Jesus Al Masih, which the apostle John wrote down for Jesus’ followers, without a word of it being corrupted or unreliable! Ibn Ishaq affirms the apostle John as the author of the fourth gospel. (see below)
How is it accepted as the word of God? Because the final product, which goes back to either 69 AD or 80-96 AD, with evidence of manuscript P-52 from 120 AD, – because the words, the written words are “God-breathed” – “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16).
John himself tells us this – in John chapters 14 and 16 – that the Holy Spirit will lead them and guide them into all the truth; that is, the Holy Spirit will inspire the words that they will write down in the future. Since the Holy Spirit is God, the Spirit of Truth, it was authored by God, testified by Jesus there in John 14 and 16, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit guiding the writers of the 27 books of the NT. Many conservative scholars believe the apostle John wrote the gospel of John (so Paul B. Williams is wrong to keep on writing things like, “all scholars reject John the apostle as the author of the fourth gospel”); There are other conservative scholars who believe that a student or students of John may have written the final product. Either way, it is all still through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Sprit of Truth.
A bigger problem for Paul Bilal Williams and Eric and other Muslims who try to cast doubt on the gospel of John is that the oldest extant document on Muhammad’s life clearly says that John’s Gospel is the very Gospel which God revealed to Jesus, and was written down by his faithful, believing disciple! Since the Qur’an says the disciples of Jesus were true believers and helpers of God, and that they would be victorious until the day of resurrection; then, it is wrong for Muslims to accuse them, or a student of them, of corrupting the gospel. (Surah 3:52, 55; 61:14)
“Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted from what John the apostle set down for them when he wrote the gospel for them from the testament of Jesus, son of Mary: ‘He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, “They hated me without a cause” (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord’s presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord’s presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.’
“The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete.”
The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 103-104)
There is no textual variant evidence nor any contextual evidence, nor any logical thought evidence in the gospel of John that Muhammad was the “paraclete”. Only the Holy Spirit, who would indwell the followers of Jesus, “He will be in you”. (John 14:17) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, the Helper, and comforter, counselor, the 3rd person of the Trinity. (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:12-15), not Muhammad, who was just a man.
But, even with that popular Muslim claim, Ibn Ishaq still affirms the gospel of John as written by the apostle John!
Ibn Ishaq, the oldest biographer of the prophet of Islam, quotes John 15:23-16:1 and says that it is taken from the Gospel (Injeel) of Jesus Al Masih, which John wrote down for Jesus’ followers, without a word of it being corrupted or unreliable!
For more defense of the gospel according to John, see here. Thanks to Sam Shamoun, who wrote an excellent article defending the gospels and the gospel of John, who first showed me the Ibn Ishaq passage -the affirmation of the apostle John by an early Muslim.
Addendum: June 1, 2013
Paul Bilal Williams responded to my article here in the com-box and also at his web-blog. Paul Williams – If you read my entire article, I gave credit to Sam Shamoun for him showing me the Ibn Ishaq passage (in the earlier article about defending the Gospel according to John) and his defense of the gospel of John. (Thanks again, Sam for that, and for all the other articles and valuable information!)
The biggest problem with your rebuttal, Paul B. Williams, is that there is no textual evidence, not even a little – of any change from a non-existent and imaginary and speculation and 600 – 700 year later anachronistic περικλυτος (periklutos) = “exalted one”, “praised one” as somehow in the original teaching of Jesus Al Masih, to παρακλητος (parakletos) = “comforter”, “helper”, “counselor”, “advocate”, the only word used in all Greek manuscript evidence that we have in many copies of the gospel of John.
Raymond Brown does not tie that anachronistic and 600-700 year late Islamic theory to his five stage redaction theory at all. (Paul Williams mentions a “four phase” redaction theory of Raymond Brown, but Dan Wallace mentions a “five stage” redaction theory of Raymond Brown here at this article on the Gospel of John here:
so, it is possible that Raymond Brown changed his theory in other books. )
Furthermore, there is just too much evidence in the context of John 14, 15, and 16 and John 7:37-39, and all the connections with what the rest of the New Testament says about the Holy Spirit and believers in Jesus that make the Muslim claim that parakletos is about a human being coming 600 years later in Arabia and claiming to bring a message from God – and then that message contradicts the message of John’s Gospel and the rest of the NT – there is just too much on our side to make the Islamic argument a joke. John 14:16-17 alone defeats the entire Islamic argument and shows the Quran 61:6 to be completely false.
Furthermore, your way of dismissing 2 Timothy 3:16 is typical, but you are not up on good Evangelical scholarly responses to the issue.
George Knight III, in his commentary on The Pastoral Epistles and William Hendrickson in his commentary, demonstrate that 2 Timothy 3:16 and the phrase “all Scripture is God-breathed” is Paul’s way of expanding what he mentions in verse 15, which is the OT, to include all of the NT and even those books that were not written yet when Paul wrote 2 Timothy around 65 -67 AD, before he was executed by Nero. Because of what Paul says about his own message in other books, such as I Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians, etc. and his quote of Luke 10:7 and Matthew 10:7 in 1 Timothy 5:18 as “Scripture”, in parallel with a quote from the OT, Paul is saying that all his writings are Scripture and God-breathed, along with the gospels. Peter as an eyewitness and apostle of Jesus also affirms all of Paul’s writings as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:16. If John’s writings all come before 70 AD also, and Jude was the last book written that says “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (verse 3), then it is not unreasonable to see how 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches that all of the NT 27 books are envisioned here as “God-breathed”. It is too much to retype for me now, (because of time constraints) but I hope, Lord willing, to in the future, provide the details and argumentation.
So, the point still stands, Ibn Ishaq still affirmed the gospel of John as written by the disciple, apostle, and eyewitness of Jesus’ life and ministry and His crucifixion and resurrection.