Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Reliability of the Gospel of John

A Refutation of Muslim Criticisms
By Keith Thompson


Part 1: John’s General Reliability: Six Points
Part 2: John’s Advanced Christology?
Part 3: John’s Theological Inventions?
Part 4: John’s Different Portrait of Jesus?
Part 5: John’s Bias and Theological Motivation?
Part 6: John’s Authorship
Part 7: Raymond Brown’s Redaction Criticism
Part 8: John’s Reliance on Gnosticism?


When engaging Muslims in debate, Christians often establish Jesus’ deity by appealing to John’s Gospel. Muslim interlocutors almost always respond by claiming the Gospel of John cannot be trusted for various reasons. For example, they claim the Apostle John did not write the fourth gospel. They also claim the author of this gospel had a higher christology than the earlier gospels and thus invented sayings of Jesus not found in the synoptics. They assert John’s overall portrait of Jesus is different than those of the synoptic gospels. They claim John was too biased and theologically motivated to be trusted. And sometimes they even say John relied on Gnostic ideas and theology for his gospel.

Christian apologists have offered good responses to the Muslims who make these false claims during debates and in writings. However, in this essay I seek to assemble the Muslim criticisms and offer a systematic refutation of them for the study and use of Christians defending the faith, as well as the average believer who may be curious about what can be said in response to such theories. It is always good to be prepared on this issue since it is very common for Muhammadans to attack John’s precious gospel every chance they get. After examining the Muslim arguments and the scholarly rebuttals to them that can be leveled, it is my hope both Muslims and Christians will be benefited. 

Part 1: John’s General Reliability

How do we know John’s Gospel is reliable and not full of errors? How do we know John didn’t simply invent speeches of Jesus or freely invent false things about his life out of thin air? Muslims believe such ideas so it is necessary to dispel this kind of erroneous thinking. We know this is not the case, and that instead John is reliable, for various reasons.

Six Lines of Evidence

First, Jesus’ discourses in John reflect key issues which were important prior to A.D. 70 within Judaism which shows John did not simply invent his portrait of Jesus. Instead, his portrait is of the true, historical Christ. Craig L. Blomberg has highlighted some of these key issues discussed by Jesus such as ritual purification (13:8-9; 18:20; cf. 2:6), the status of the Samaritans (4:9), Sabbath regulations (5:1-18, ch. 9); and the value of testimony of ones self (5:31-47; 8:13), etc (1).

Second, Jesus’ style of argumentation and biblical exegesis in the fourth gospel is remarkably consistent with ancient Jewish approaches (2).

Third, John had access to a lot of material and sources from the primitive church and hence did not need to invent his sayings of Jesus out of thin air. Richard Bauckham’s work shows John relied on Mark, or at least on Mark’s pre-Markan source, or a primitive, core oral Jesus tradition Mark utilized based on certain features in John’s gospel which allude to events in Mark (3). Either way, this helps show John was not interested in simply inventing sayings and deeds of Jesus. Instead, he utilized the most primitive material for his gospel. Going further, J. Ramsey Michaels notes, “As this commentary will show, parallels can be found between John’s Gospel and every stratum of synoptic tradition: Mark, the so-called “Q” source, and material distinctive to Matthew and to Luke [i.e., "M," and "L"]” (4). Hence, again this idea John simply invented his sayings and deeds of Jesus and did not have access to the most primitive material is refuted by the evidence. Also, John was so familiar with the primitive Jesus tradition the earlier gospels utilized, that he was able to (though not purposefully) clear up enigmas in the synoptic gospels which they themselves do not clear up. For example, while the synoptics give no historical explanation as to why Jesus made his final journey to Jerusalem (Mark 10:1) at the time he did, John actually tells us why. It was because Lazarus was sick (John 11). Moreover, while the synoptics do not tell us how Peter was able to enter the high priest’s courtyard (Mark 14:45), John does tell us. It was because a disciple who was known there was allowed to bring Peter in (John 18:15-16). Many other examples where John unintentionally solves such enigmas can be provided, as well as cases where the synoptic gospels unintentionally solve enigmas in John (5). This demonstrates John was well acquainted with the primitive Jesus tradition the synoptics relied on and didn’t simply invent his portrait and history of Jesus out of thin air. As Carson and Moo put it: “John and the Synoptics represent an interlocking tradition, that is, where they mutually reinforce or explain each other, without betraying overt literary dependence” (6).

Fourth, a great number of Jesus’ statements in John meet the criteria of authenticity historians employ to determine historical accuracy. These include the principles of embarrassment, dissimilarity, multiple attestation, semitisms, etc. This renders John’s Gospel trustworthy and shows his statements of Jesus truly do originate with the historical Christ. The more criteria of authenticity a saying meets, the more reliable it is demonstrated to be. Blomberg offers a verse by verse commentary on John highlighting statements of Jesus which meet these historical criteria (7).

Fifth, the fourth gospel’s authenticity can be seen from its profound familiarity with the earlier geography and archaeology of the time of Jesus. Such things demonstrate the author was an eyewitness and also had reliable sources at his disposal for his biographical history of Jesus’ life and ministry. Paul Barnett has listed some examples (8). For instance, in John 4 the author shows familiarly with Jacob’s well which was 130 feet deep and near Joseph’s tomb. In John 4 the author also speaks of going down to Capernaum which is significant since on the way to Capernaum the land drops from above sea level to 650 feet below sea level. Also, in John 5:2 the author mentions the pool of Bethzatha which archaeologists have subsequently uncovered. Finally, Barnett also notes, “The Evangelist knows that it is two days’ journey from Bethany beyond Jordan (Jn 1:28, 35, 43, 2:1) to Cana, one day from Cana to Capernaum (4:52) and two days from Bethany beyond Jordan to Bethany near Jerusalem (10:40-11:18)” (9). Other examples of John’s archaeological accuracy can be found in John McRay’s book Archaeology and the New Testament and Geisler and Holden’s work The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible.

Sixth, that the Gospel of John is reliable and inspired can be proved by its fulfilled prophecies. For example, in John 15:18-19 Jesus predicts the world will hate his true Christian disciples. We see this fulfilled in history and today in profound ways. The Roman Empire harshly persecuted and hated Christianity until the early 4th century. The Muslims have persecuted and hated Christians since the advent of Islam. The heretical Romanists tortured and murdered Bible believing Christians during the inquisitions. Today secular, Western culture mocks Christians in television, media, literature and in the street. Christian prayer and evangelism are being banned in schools. The growing liberal, atheist, feminist, gay, and transgender movements hate Christians for their stance on biblical family, marriage, sexuality and morality. In the same Johannine text there is another prophecy that professing Christians who are of the world (or “worldly”) will, conversely, be loved by the world, unlike real Christians. One can think of how the unsaved world thus loves fake worldly Christians like Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, T. D. Jakes, and Rob Bell, etc. Such people are given massive platforms and are approvingly invited on television shows like Oprah Winfrey! This is all genuine fulfilled prophecy from John’s Gospel. Moreover, in John 21:18 Jesus predicts Peter would die in the context of stretching out his hands and going where he does not want to go. This is an accurate prophecy of Peter’s future death by crucifixion in Rome which we know historically occured (10).

Part 2: John’s Advanced Christology?

Muslims often claim John’s christology is unreliable because it is allegedly too high compared to the most primitive material such as Mark’s Gospel, etc. They say John developed the “low” christology of Mark and the other gospels. However, here we will prove our most ancient sources including Mark’s Gospel, “Q” and pre-Pauline hymns reflecting the theology of the primitive church have just as high a christology as John’s Gospel. Doing this will refute the Muslim claim.

Mark’s High Christology

Mark, and hence Mark’s earlier material he utilized, affirms Jesus is God. Although Jesus is not the same person as the Father, he has the same incommunicable attributes of God and is presented as deity. Thus, Mark and John shared the same christology. In Mark 1:24, 2:17 and 10:45 Jesus is affirmed to have pre-existed and come into the world. For example, in 1:24 the demons ask Jesus if he has come to destroy them showing these demons who existed before humans knew of Jesus and wondered if his earthly advent meant they were about to be destroyed by him. In Mark 13:26 and 14:62 Jesus applies Daniel 7:13-14 to himself which affirms the divine Son of Man comes on the clouds of heaven (which is always what God uniquely does e.g. Exodus 14:20; Numbers 10:34; Isaiah 19:1; Psalm 68:4; Psalm 104:1-3), and is worshiped by all humanity with worship (pelach) only due to God (Dan 3:12, 12, 17-18, 28; 6:16, 20; 7:14; Ezra 7:24). Also, Jesus forgives sins in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 2:7). Exodus 34:6-7 and other texts show it is God who forgives sins. This is why in Mark 2:7 some Jewish scholars rebuked and questioned Jesus saying “He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Now, although Muslims usually respond by claiming John 20:21-23 shows the disciples could forgive sins (which is interesting given their hostility towards the Gospel of John), I refuted that argument in another essay (11). In short, I prove there the disciples do not forgive sins, but simply declare the forgiveness of sins once a person converts. What is more, in Mark 2:19 Jesus is said to be the “bridegroom” which is a title of God found in Isaiah 54:5; 62:5; Jeremiah 31:32. As for Jesus sharing God’s attributes, in 1 Kings 8:39 we’re told God knows all things including the hearts of all men. However, in Mark 2:6-8 Jesus knew the Scribes were questioning in their heart. And in Mark 8:31-32 Jesus knew the Scribes and Pharisees were planning to kill him, that they would, and that he would rise after three days. This proves the earliest gospel presents Jesus as omniscient or all-knowing. In Mark 7:24-30 Jesus is presented as omnipresent since he knew a woman’s daughter was possessed before entering her house. However, the Old Testament affirms it is God who is omnipresent (1 Kings 8:27). Thus, on these sorts of grounds, the eminent scholar F. F. Bruce concluded, “There is, in fact, no material difference in Christology between John and the three Synoptics” (12).

Jesus’ use of the title “Son of God” in Mark shows he understood it had a divine and unique meaning. In Mark 12:1-8 we are confronted with Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenets and the vineyard. In this parable Israel is the vineyard and the servants of the vineyard who are abused and killed by the people are the prophets. However, in v. 6 the Father mentions a final figure sent to the people who he calls “my Son” in distinction from the previously mentioned prophets who were sent. Thus, Jesus being called the “my Son” by the Father makes him distinct from and above the prophets who were killed before Him. In v. 7 Jesus is also called the “heir” of Israel which refers to a Son who receives what belongs to a Father. This further shows Jesus believed he was the unique Son of God distinct from and above all the prophets. Here in Mark’s Gospel Jesus refutes Islam which falsely says Christ was just another prophet and not the unique Son of God.

Q’s High Christology

“Q” is short for quelie which is the German word for “source.” Both Matthew and Luke utilized this early source when not using Mark or their own M and L sources. In this primitive Q material Jesus is presented as deity thereby refuting the Muslim claim that John developed a higher christology than the earliest material.

For example, in a Q statement found in Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17 John the Baptist presents Jesus as the eschatological judge who gathers “his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” The Baptist is harkening back to Old Testament texts where the wicked are destroyed by God with fire like chaff in judgement such as Psalms 83:13-14, Isaiah 29:5-6 and Obadiah 1:18. Thus, in this primitive Q saying Jesus is identified as the Lord God who judges and destroys the wicked in fire like chaff.

Moreover, in a Q saying in Matthew 11:10 and Luke 7:27 Jesus, speaking of John the Baptist and himself says, “This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’” Here Jesus is appealing to Malachi 3:1 and 4:5 which say a messenger, that is, a voice crying in the wilderness, is said to precede Yahweh’s coming to his people. In the Q saying Jesus applies these texts to John the Baptist and himself, meaning John the Baptist is the messenger who makes the way for Jesus who is Yahweh coming to his people. In fact in the Q saying Jesus paraphrases Malachi 3:1 as saying “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.” By saying the messenger is sent before your [i.e., Jesus’] face, when Malachi 3:1 is actually about the messenger being sent before God’s face, Jesus was calling Himself God. As R. T. France explains, “. . . the first person of Mal 3:1 (‘prepare the way before me’) has become a second person (‘before you’), thus allowing the possibility of taking the forerunner as preceding someone other than God himself” (13). That someone is Christ.

What is more, in a Q saying found in Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58 after someone said they would follow Jesus wherever he went, Jesus responded by saying that He, the Son of Man, has nowhere to rest his head, thus indicating the cost of discipleship. Hence, in the primitive Q material Jesus affirms he is divine Son of Man from Daniel 7:13-14 who comes on the clouds of heaven like God and is worshiped by humanity with pelach worship due to God alone.

The High Christology of Primitive Christian Hymns

Philippians 2:6-11 is an ancient pre-Pauline Hymn Paul borrowed from the primitive Christian Church. It clearly affirms Jesus’ deity:

“6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

This text clearly teaches Jesus pre-existed in the form of God, is equal with God, became a man, died and rose, and will be bowed to by humanity and confessed as Lord by all. What is remarkable is that this hymn is drawing from Isaiah 45:23 which says all people will bow to YHWH and swear allegiance to him. Thus, the earliest Christians applied this Old Testament text about God to Jesus proving Jesus is God. Moises Silva argues this is an earlier poetic hymn Paul borrowed based on “rhythm, parallelisms, lexical links, and other features” (14). Philippians was written between the mid 50’s to early 60’s (15). Thus, prior to this time, Christians were teaching Jesus was God in primitive hymns.

Colossians 1:15-20 is another ancient hymn Paul borrowed from the primitive church which clearly affirms Jesus’ deity:

“15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20).

From this hymn we learn the primitive Christians affirmed Jesus was the image of God, that he created all things, that he is before all things, that he is sovereign holding everything together, and that the fullness of God dwells in him. Jesus' deity is clearly evident. Peter O’Brien argues this is an earlier poetic hymn Paul borrowed from the primitive church based on “the presence of introductory relative clauses, the positioning of words in such a way that lines and strophes may be arranged, chiasmus and inclusion, and unusual terms (which either do not appear elsewhere in the Pauline corpus or are used with a different meaning)” (16). Colossians was written between the late 50’s and early 60’s (17). Thus, prior to this time, Christians were teaching Jesus’ deity in primitive hymns.

Part 3: John’s Theological Inventions?

Jesus’ I AM Statements

In John’s Gospel Jesus identifies himself as the great “I Am” (e.g. John 8:24, 58; 18:5-6), which is a divine title of God from the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14; Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 41:4; 43:10). However, Muslims argue since these specific sayings in John are not found in the synoptic gospels, they must not be historical but instead inventions of John reflecting “advanced” or “developed” theology. However, there are a number of difficulties with this line of argument.

Jesus also identifies himself as the great “I Am” in the synoptic gospels, even in Mark, which shows such an identification is not a result of John’s “advanced theology,” but is instead reflective of primitive Jesus tradition. For example, in Isaiah 43:2-3, 10 God tells his people not to be afraid when they pass through the waters for he is the Lord their God and the great “I Am.” Well, in Mark 6:45-50 the disciples were afraid because the waters were beating against their boat. Then Jesus walked on water and said “Take heart. I Am. Do not be afraid” (v. 50). This shows according to the earliest gospel, Mark, Jesus believed he was God. This is because here Jesus employed the divine title “I Am” in the context of echoing the words of God in Isaiah 43:2-3 calming his people who were afraid of the violent waters.

Thus, to argue Jesus’ “I Am” statements in John are late theological developments is to ignore the early evidence which also contains these kinds of statements. Moreover, in Mark 13:6 and Luke 21:8 we see another “I Am” statement where Jesus says, “Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I Am!’ (ego eime) and they will lead many astray.” 

On a side note, it should be noted some radical Muslims are not even willing to admit Jesus’ “I Am” statements in John affirm his deity. To defend such an absurd position they egregiously point to regular people who casually say “I am” in the gospels, and conclude it was a common thing to say. For example, in John 9:9 a person says “I am the man,” in response to people wondering if he was the beggar they were curious about. However, what these Muslims do not realize is such examples never have a person saying “I Am” without a predicate like we have with various statements of Jesus (e.g. John 8:24; 58) and in the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah 41:4; 43:10). Such statements show Jesus was affirming he is the great “I Am” of the Old Testament who likewise often lacked the predicate. The statements Muslims bring up have a predicate, i.e., the man in John 9:9 was affirming he was the beggar, not simply that he was. So this Muslim “street argument” is egregious.

Other Statements of Jesus and Theological Themes

What about John’s other unique contributions such as Jesus being the pre-existent “Word,” (John 1:1-3, 14), the Lamb of God (e.g. John 1:29), and other references to Jesus’ deity not found in the synoptics (e.g. John 5:19-23; John 20:28)? Don’t these unique features as well as John’s particular “I Am” statements prove John freely invented themes and sayings of Jesus in order to “improve” the theology of the earlier gospels? On the contrary, their uniqueness to John can be accounted for by other means.

Blomberg has shown the reason gospel writers such as John would omit or include oral and written material was because each gospel writer had a different literary and theological purpose which resulted in different pre-formulated outlines or structures of a gospel. If material, no matter how important it may seem to us, did not fit into such a structure, it was not included in a gospel. If material did fit that structure, it was included. This explains why John has material unique to his gospel. It is not because John’s unique material is ahistorical or invented, but, as Blomberg notes,

“John and the Synoptics alike omit and include material according to relatively clear theological and literary criteria. What does not fit those criteria is not included, however much we might have thought it should be. Thus the resurrection of Lazarus does not appear in the Synoptics because it takes place in Judea prior to the last of Christ’s trips to Jerusalem, of which the Synoptics wish to record only one. The transfiguration does not appear in John because it occurs in the middle of the ministry, but does not take place in or around Jerusalem or directly tie in with one of the Jewish festivals” (18).

John’s main purpose was to write to Christians (many of them Jewish) on how to evangelize non-Christians (primarily Jews) (19), as well as to refute (and not be deceived by) emerging proto-Gnostic Docetism which denied Jesus’ true incarnation into the flesh (they claimed Jesus was only a phantom who appeared to be a man and was not made of “evil matter”) (20). Thus, of course it makes sense for John to include earlier oral and written material unique to his gospel that addresses these specific issues. This is why John has a greater focus on Jesus’ deity (thus refuting unbelieving Jews who rejected Christian theology), and Jesus’ incarnation or him being the pre-existent “Word” who became flesh (thus refuting proto-Gnostics who denied the incarnation or Jesus becoming true flesh).

We have already shown John had access to primitive Jesus tradition that dates to long before the writing of the fourth gospel. For example, we showed John was familiar enough with the primitive Jesus tradition to (though not purposefully) solve enigmas in the synoptic gospels. We showed John relied on Mark, or at least Mark’s pre-Markan source, or a primitive, core oral Jesus tradition. And we showed John was familiar with every stratum of synoptic tradition in Mark, “Q”, and material distinctive to Matthew and to Luke. Thus, John “had much material from which to choose” (21) in order to compose his gospel and suit his writing purposes we mentioned. Hence, there is no need to assert he “invented” the things unique to his gospel. He simply included earlier Jesus material he possessed which fit his structure or outline, and which the three previous gospels did not feel the need to include because they had unique purposes as well.

To further strengthen our case on the reliability of John and argue John did not simply invent words of Jesus, it must be noted H. R. Reynolds has shown there are around 145 words of Jesus in John’s Gospel that are not employed by John himself in his narrative material. This shows John would actually report Jesus’ words and not employ his own when it came to Jesus’ sayings (22). This data renders false the notion that John carelessly invented and attributed words to Jesus. That is inconsistent with what this information demonstrates about John’s approach to writing.

Moreover, Blomberg notes we can know John reported Jesus’ actual words because of John’s adoption of Jesus’ style only after Jesus is first quoted in the fourth gospel:

“. . .it is interesting to note as one proceeds through the Gospel how often stylistic peculiarities of John appear on Jesus’ lips first and only afterwards in John’s narrative material (e.g. 2:4; 3:15; 5:17-23; 6:39; 7:33), suggesting that John’s own style may at times have been influenced by Jesus’ manner of speaking” (23).

This material could stand on its own as proof for the authenticity and reliability of John’s Gospel. But there is more. We know the eyewitness disciple John actually wrote the fourth gospel which helps to further show its reliability. But before we prove this we need to address two more objections centered on John’s portrait of Jesus, and John’s bias and theological motivation. We will discern if such things render his gospel untrustworthy as Muslims sometimes claim. 

Part 4: John’s Different Portrait of Jesus?

Because Muslim apologist (such as Shabir Ally) have claimed John’s Gospel presents an entirely different overall portrait of Jesus compared to the synoptic gospels, many Muslims have adopted this line of thinking. Ally claims John’s portrait of Jesus is more “Christian” than that of the synoptics (24). However, when you closely examine the “evidence” that allegedly proves the uniqueness of John’s Jesus, it is shown to be quite weak. We will cover two of the prime examples Ally typically raises.

Ally claims that while in Mark’s gospel you have the “messianic secret,” i.e., that Jesus does not publically declare he is the Messiah until his trial, in John Jesus does publically declare his messiahship. Ally highlights examples of this such as John the Baptist early on saying Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and Jesus identifying himself as the Messiah to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:25-26).

However, John the Baptist’s early declaration of Jesus being the Lamb who takes away the world’s sins does not necessarily mean the Baptist’s aim was to publically announce Jesus was the Messiah. “Messiah” refers to Anointed King of the House of David (25). So, the Baptist saying Jesus would die for sins is not an explicit affirmation of Jesus being the Messiah, though Jesus the Messiah did die for sins, and there is some Old Testament proof the Messiah would die which may have been found by the first century Jew if he dug deep enough. However, it is precisely because many first-century Jews expected the Messiah to conquer and not die that the Baptist’s declaration does not actually betray Jesus’ wish for his messiahship to be kept secret. Second, Jesus telling the Samaritan woman he was the Messiah does not truly betray it either. For, as Blomberg notes, “In the case of the Samaritan woman, it was no doubt precisely her identity that enabled Jesus to speak plainly. The Samaritans for the most part were not expecting the Messiah to be as much a nationalistic, militaristic ruler as were many in first–century Judaism; instead, they were looking more for a teacher, restorer and converter, much more consistent with the role Jesus envisaged for himself” (26). Therefore, once we take into consideration some historical background of these issues, we see the alleged discrepancies disappear and John’s Jesus is the same as the synoptic Jesus. And, lest Muslims walk away from Ally’s claim with a misunderstanding thinking only John’s Gospel presents Jesus as the Messiah who will die for the world’s sins, it must be noted all four gospels clearly affirm these things (Mark 2:10; 8:29-33; 10:45; 14:61-62; Matthew 1:21; 20:28; Luke 9:20-22; John 1:51; 3:16).

Moving on, Ally also claims because in John Jesus deliberately came to die for sins from the start (unlike the other gospels, allegedly), in John’s Gospel Jesus does not pray for the cup to pass him in the Gethsemane prayer like we have in Mark and Matthew (Mark 14:36; Matthew 26:39). Thus, Ally thinks this proves John’s Gospel presents a more Christian Jesus who was willing to die for sins.
However, two responses are in order. First, contrary to Ally’s claim, in the synoptic gospels Jesus was willing to go to his death for the world’s sins since the beginning as well, despite his late prayer requesting that the cup should pass him so he did not have to experience his loving Father’s wrath on the cross. To give some examples showing the synoptic material has it so Jesus was always conscious and ultimately willing to die for sins, we see in Mark 10:33 Jesus said “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles” (Mark 10:33). This saying is also found in Matthew 20:18-19 and Luke 18:31-33. We see similar sayings of Jesus where he anticipates his death for sins in Mark 8:31, 9:31, Matthew 17:22-23, etc. Moreover, in Mark 10:45 Jesus explicitly says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This saying is also found in Matthew 20:28. Thus, Ally’s assertion that Jesus did not come to die for sins since the beginning in the synoptic gospels, but only in John, is totally false. Second, as Carson aptly observes, “Although the agony of Gethsemane goes unreported in this Gospel, John preserves other signs of Jesus’ struggle (cf. notes on 12:27-28; 18:11)” (27).

Part 5: John’s Bias and Theological Motivation?

Muslims sometimes claim John’s Gospel is biased propaganda with an agenda and thus cannot be seen as historically reliable. They will quote John 20:31 to support this: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). They argue since this gospel was written with an agenda so that people would believe in Jesus for salvation, it can not be trusted historically.

Firstly, the Koran is biased propaganda with agendas written by Muslims. So this is an inconsistent argument. Koran 25:1 says it was written as a theological admonition for people, thus showing the Koran too was written with an agenda or motive. Does that nullify it as historically reliable? If Muslims are going to be consistent they must state that it does.

Secondly, ancient biographers near the time of Christ often wrote their works in the context of teaching moral lessons (28), yet their works are seen as respectable and reliable historical sources despite this. Regarding moral agenda in ancient histories, Keener notes,

“No less careful ancient historian than Polybius begins his multivolume history by observing its utilitarian value: people ‘have no more ready corrective of conduct than knowledge of the past.’ Likewise, Tacitus, one of our most reliable historical sources for the early empire, emphasizes that the biographic study of history promotes virtue. . . . Lucian, a stickler for historical accuracy . . . allows for history’s edifying value, i.e., moral lessons, provided they flow from the truth” (29).

Moreover, the ancient biographer Cornelius Nepos who died in 25 B.C. said biographers focused on the morals of their subject (30).

Regarding theological motivation, Jewish scholar Geza Vermes notes, “a theological interest is no more incompatible with a concern for history than is a political or philosophical conviction” (31). Regarding theological agenda in ancient histories, Keener observes,

“Diodorus could describe ‘historians as ‘ministers of divine providence’ who arrange their accounts in the light of their understanding of providence of human events.’ Dionysius of Halicarnassus includes among history’s lessons the virtue of piety toward the gods. . . . Josephus is often explicit about [God’s] providence in human affairs” (32).

Thus, one should not dismiss ancient biographies and histories such as John’s Gospel just because there is moral or theological motive or agenda. This was common in respected and reliable historical works of the time.

Part 6: John’s Authorship

If we can prove the fourth gospel was written by John the disciple and eyewitness, that adds to our case quite substantially. For, Muhammadans would have to contend with the fact that you have someone who knew Jesus and witnessed his ministry and sayings first hand writing a biography of his life.It would also follow his unique contributions derived not from a non-eyewitness, but from an eyewitness.

Internal Evidence

Internal evidence that John son of Zebedee authored the fourth gospel is strong. First it is important to note that in John 1:14 it is said that “… the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory” It must then be asked: who is the “us” and “we” here who beheld Christ’s glory? The answer is given in John 2:11 when it is said that “the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” Thus, the “us” and “we” who beheld Christ’s glory were the eyewitness disciples who observed Jesus’ miracles. Hence the author of this gospel includes himself as an eyewitness disciple. In John 19:35 the author of the work again affirms he was an eyewitness of the crucifixion of Christ when he says, “He who saw it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth--that you also may believe."

With that said, the discussion of who exactly this author was centers on John 21’s comments about the “beloved disciple,” which was the man we are told was the eyewitness author of this fourth gospel. In John 21 we see one of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to some of his disciples. Near the end of the encounter we read:

“20Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at the table close to him and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’ 23So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’ 24This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:20-24).

I will argue that the beloved disciple here, who we are told from this text authored this gospel and was an eyewitness of Jesus’ life, was Jesus' disciple John son of Zebedee.

Earlier comments in chapter 21 narrow down the list of possible “beloved disciple” candidates to Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James son of Zebedee, John son of Zebedee, and two unnamed disciples by placing them at this post-resurrection appearance where the beloved disciple was present (John 21:2). Of these seven we can easily rule out Peter, Thomas, Nathanael and James as being the beloved disciple. The beloved disciple is distinguished from Peter by name (John 13:23-24; 20:2-9; 21:20). James son of Zebedee was martyred around A.D. 44 toward the end of the reign of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2), while the beloved disciple lived long enough (i.e., in the 80's when the Gospel of John was written) for the rumour about him not dying until Christ came for him (John 21:23). Moreover, James died too soon for him to author the fourth gospel. Most scholars who examine the evidence affirm Nathanael was not one of the twelve (Bauckham, 2006). We know the beloved disciple was one of the twelve, however, because he attended the Last Supper (John 13:23) when only the twelve attended (Mark 14:17-18). With respect to Thomas, he can not be the beloved disciple because John 20:8 says the beloved disciple immediately believed after seeing the empty tomb with Peter. Thomas, however, remained doubtful and didn’t believe until later when Jesus appeared to him in John 20:25-29.

Supporting the orthodox belief that it was John son of Zebedee and not one of the two remaining unnamed disciples is the fact in the fourth gospel the beloved disciple and the Apostle Peter are linked closely together as acquaintances (John 13:23; 20:2-9; and 21:1-25). Interestingly the non-Johannine New Testament data very strongly links John son of Zebedee and Peter as well (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:33; Luke 22:8, Acts 3:1, 11; 4:13; 8:15-25; Galatians 2:9). Thus, the beloved disciple is John.

Moreover, Donald Guthrie argues that in light of John the Baptist being identified simply as “John”, this presupposes the author of the fourth gospel’s audience would identify the Apostle John with another name (i.e., “beloved disciple”) (33).

F. F. Bruce argues that the beloved disciple is John the Apostle based on the special relationship James, Peter and John had with Jesus. After narrowing down the possible “beloved disciple” candidates to one of the twelve in light of the synoptic data regarding the Last Supper, he states:

“… of the twelve, there were three who were on occasion admitted to more intimate fellowship with the Master – Peter, James and John. It was these three, for example, whom he took to keep watch with Him during His vigil in Gethsemane after the Last Supper (Mk 14:33). We should naturally expect that the beloved disciple would be one of the number. He was not Peter, from whom he is explicitly distinguished in John 13:24, 20:2, and 21:20. There remain two sons of Zebedee, James and John, who were included in the seven of chapter 21. But James was martyred not later than AD 44 (Acts 12:2), and therefore there was little likelihood that the saying should go abroad about him which went abroad about the beloved disciple, that he would not die. So we are left with John(34).

Bruce referred to John 21:21-23’s discussion between Jesus and Peter regarding the beloved disciple not dying until Jesus came and took his life naturally, and the followers of Christ spreading this rumour up to the time that the Gospel of John was written. He correctly observed that this rumour could not circulate about James up to that point since he died in A.D. 44 long before this gospel’s composition. Thus it would have to refer to John son of Zebedee.

External Evidence

External evidence affirming that John son of Zebedee authored the fourth gospel is strong as well. Writing in the second century, Irenaeus, who learned from his contemporary acquaintance Polycarp, who was a pupil of apostles such as John, affirms John wrote the fourth gospel (35). We know the source for Irenaeus’ Johannine Ephesus information is Polycarp who Irenaeus viewed as a link between himself and Jesus regarding doctrine and theology (36), and because Eusebius quotes Irenaeus regarding congruous information concerning John’s encounter with Cerinthus in Ephesus which Irenaeus derived from Polycarp (37). Thus, as Donald Guthrie remarks “There can be no doubt, therefore, that Irenaeus accepted John the Apostle as author of the Gospel and believed it to have been published at Ephesus on the basis of Polycarp’s testimony(38). Moreover, Justin Martyr (A.D. 103-165) references John 3:3-5 (39) while in the same work speaking of the gospels in terms of “memoirs of the apostles” (40) in the plural most likely referencing John and Matthew since he indicates Luke was written by those who knew apostles (41). The Assyrian Christian Tatian (A.D. 120-180) affirmed the authority of the fourth gospel by composing the Diatessaron which was a gospel harmony using, as Craig Blomberg notes, “John as the base into which to fit the other three(42). Tertullian (A.D. 160-220) affirms Johannine authorship (43). Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215) likewise does (44). Origen (A.D. 185-254) lists the gospels and mentions “Last of all that by John” (45). Around A.D. 180 Theophilus of Antioch affirmed Johannine authorship (46). The anti-Marcionite Prologue to John (A.D. 160-180?) affirms Johannine authorship (47). The anti-Marcionite prologue to Luke (A.D. 160-180?) also affirms Johannine authorship (48). The Muratorian canon (A.D. 180-190) similarly does (49). Thus we have very strong and early tradition affirming the authority and Johannine authorship of the fourth gospel.

In regards to the external data being uniform, Craig Blomberg notes,

No orthodox writer ever proposes any other alternative for the author of the Fourth Gospel and the book is accepted in all of the early canonical lists, which is all the more significant given the frequent heterodox misinterpretations of it(50).

In sum Andreas J. Köstenberger states,

“… we conclude that both internal and external evidence cohere in suggesting John, the son of Zebedee, to be the author of the Gospel that bears his name(51).

Therefore, according to the evidence, an eyewitness disciple of Jesus wrote the Gospel of John and hence we can be confident it is an historically reliable text. Although Muhammadans, liberals and unbelievers do not agree, it is because of their erroneous prior faith and philosophical convictions, since, the evidence for our position is clearly incredibly strong.

Part 7: Raymond Brown’s Redaction Criticism of John

The redaction criticism of the Gospel of John promoted by liberal scholar Raymond Brown has been adopted by Muslim apologist and scholar Shabir Ally. Ally often presents Brown’s “five stages of editing” theory as if it is fact without ever informing people of the scholarly critiques of it. This results in many of Ally’s Muslim students blindly adopting and promoting it. We will let Ally explain Brown’s theory and then interact with it. Ally remarks,

“As for the Gospel of John, this too cannot in its present form be credited to the disciple John. This Gospel went through stages of editing. . . The disciple John, Son of Zebedee preached his memories of Jesus. A disciple of John took John’s preaching and preached on it further. This disciple of the disciple eventually wrote the results of his preaching in the Gospel. . . . Moreover, a later editor inserted parts into the Gospel, and added the last chapter as well” (52).

There are at least five of points which cumulatively refute Brown’s redactional theory on John. And because of this, as Craig Keener notes, today “few scholars continue to maintain Brown’s detailed approach” (53). We will present them in order to show this commonly held position among Muslims should be abandoned. Carson and Moo’s An Introduction to the New Testament was very helpful for this section of the paper.

First, the stylistic unity of the Gospel of John which shows the same author composed the entire gospel refutes the idea of John’s final form being based on material from the apostles which was then developed from decades of preaching, organized and then redacted or edited by an anonymous evangelist. What do I mean when I refer to stylistic unity here? I mean that, as Carson and Moo have noted, “stylistically it is cut from one cloth” (54) and not different materials, preaching, and editing by other people. Various scholarly studies have proven this over the years calling into question the various source theories and redaction criticisms such as Brown’s. For example, one can think of, among other works, Carson’s “Current Source Criticism of the Fourth Gospel: Some Methodological Questions,” JBL (1979), pp. 411-429. Vern Poythress did a test looking at John’s use of the Greek conjunctions de, kai and oun as well as asyndeton. What his study revealed is a unity of the fourth gospel and also the Johannine Epistles (55). Thus, as Blomberg says, “The . . . literary unity. . . makes it impossible to be at all confident about any hypothesis of multiple stages of composition of John’s Gospel. . .” (56).

Second, this idea Ally has adopted which says a later editor inserted the prologue (John 1:1-18) and ending (John 21) of John’s Gospel has been refuted by studies proving the stylistic unity of these parts of the fourth gospel compared with the rest of it. On the prologue see Jeff Staley’s “The Structure of John’s Prologue: Its Implications for the Gospel’s Narrative Structure,” CBQ 48 (1986), pp. 241-263; and on the ending see Paul S. Minear’s “The Original Functions of John 21” JBL 102 (1983), pp. 85-98.

Third, the instability of Brown’s views must be noted. At first in his commentary on John, Brown affirmed the author of the fourth gospel was John son of Zebedee based on the strong kinds of evidence for Johannine authorship we discussed earlier. However, when he wrote his 1979 work The Community of the Beloved Disciple he changed his mind and claimed the author was an outsider disciple and not one of the twelve. However, Brown never refuted his own evidence he put forth in his prior commentary which showed the author was John son of Zebedee. People need to keep this in mind when adopting Brown’s liberal views. Plus, “Toward the end of his life, Brown himself doubted that scholars could always discern which details belonged to which stage” (57), in regards to his “five stages of editing” theory. 

Fourth, the speculative inferences required to believe Brown’s “five stages of editing” theory have been challenged by scholars, and they call the theory into question. As Blomberg relays, “. . .the hypothesis depends on numerous judgements as to what does or does not cohere internally at either a theological or stylistic level, each of which has been disputed and explained differently by various scholars” (58). Similarly, Carson and Moo note how Brown’s theory rests on problematic speculation of who John was confronting at certain places in the text, when other options are instead possible “. . .the six groups Brown thinks the Gospel of John is confronting are mere inferences from the gospel’s text, the fruit of imaginative mirror-reading. Again and again, other inferences are possible. And all of Brown’s six groups, inferences as they are, are based on a prior inference, namely, that it is relatively easy to read off from a text that purports to be about Jesus the life and circumstances and opponents of the group that produces the document” (59).

Fifth, Brown’s theory hinges on his belief that John was composed in stages by the “Johannine community” and for this community in order to confront problems they were dealing with. This assumption is interwoven into the very fabric of Brown’s theory as he argues his case line by line. However, the idea of John being written for a specific community (again, a central theme in Brown’s reconstruction) has been challenged by Richard Bauckham’s new research. Bauckham has shown that instead the gospels were written with a wider provenance. As Arthur G. Patzia summarizes, “Assumptions about the provenance and destination of the Gospels have seriously been challenged during the last couple of decades. Richard Bauckham, for example, edited a book titled The Gospel for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences, which questions and attempts to refute the current consensus of scholarship that the Gospels were written for specific church communities. . . . Bauckham argues for an ‘open’ rather than ‘closed’ text, meaning that the Gospels were written for all believers, not specific communities. . . . Bauckham supports his thesis by noting the mobility and communication of believers in the first century, the travel of teachers, prophets, missionaries and church leaders, the reality of Christianity as a world wide movement, and contact between churches. . . . Thus one can envision a wider circulation of the Gospels rather than to one specific geographical community. . . . [Thus, Browns theory] needs to be reevaluated in light of Bauckham’s thesis” (60).

Part 8: John’s Reliance on Gnosticism?

Because of an essay (61) written by Muslim apologist Ijaz Ahmed, some Muslims are now running around parroting Rudolf Bultmann’s old claim that the Gospel of John relied on Gnostic ideas and theology (particularly Mandaism) which was current, allegedly, during John’s composition.  Bultmann made these claims in his commentary on John.

However, Donald Guthrie has pointed out this idea “has found little favour among scholars” (62). This is odd considering in his essay Ahmed calls Bultmann’s commentary “One of the most important books ever written on the Gospel of John.” In fact, C. H. Dodd, in his commentary on John, rejected Bultmann’s “evidence” as being too late to be considered significant. To quote Guthrie on some of the difficulties with Bultmann’s outdated and rejected view:

“. . .there is no evidence in the gospels that the author was consciously selecting or adapting his material to meet this particular threat, unless it was the beginnings of Docetism. . . . Mandaism is another movement which has been appealed to as a part of the Johannine background. But this idea cannot be substantiated. The data on Mandaism are too late to provide any certain idea of a pre-Christian cult as Reistzenstein maintained. The Mandaean literature may therefore be disregarded as a contribution to the Johannine background. If there are parallels it is certain that the fourth gospel has contributed to the thought-forms of the later Mandaean movement and not vice versa” (63).

Ahmed quotes Bultmann as saying “In John, Jesus descends from heaven, like the Gnostic redeemer, to bring men the saving message, and he returns to the Father after completing his work.” However, there are serious problems with claiming the evidence shows a pre-Christian Gnostic redeemer. As Leon Morris notes,

“. . . the existence of this redeemer-myth in any pre-Christian form is far from having been proved. So for all its popularity in some circles this idea must be discarded. . . . Cf. R. M. Grant: ‘The most obvious explanation of the origin of the Gnostic redeemer is that he was modeled after the Christian conception of Jesus. It seems significant that we know no redeemer before Jesus, while we encounter other redeemers (Simon Magus, Menander) immediately after his time.’ Again G. Quispel, writing on the Gnostic documents of Chenoboskion, sees the possibility of giving ‘the death-sentence to Bultmann’s hypothesis of a pre-Christian Gnostic Redeemer” (64).
Indeed, Carson and Moo note the Gnostic sources in view “come from the second or third century or later” (65). Moreover, they note, “the conceptual differences between John and these documents are very substantial” (66). And finally, they explain in terms of vocabulary, the movement that relates closest to John’s Gospel is not Gnostic, but instead the conservative Jewish Essene group attested by the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in 1947 (67).


In sum, we can see in light of the data we amassed, the Muslim objections against the reliability of John’s Gospel are specious.

We observed six lines of evidence proving the general reliability of John in light of prophecy, archaeology, his wealth of early sources, Jesus’ statements meeting the criteria of authenticity, Jesus’ discourses reflecting key issues present in pre-70 A.D. Judaism, and Jesus’ style of debate and exegesis being consistent with Judaism of his day.

On sources, we showed John had a wealth of early Jesus tradition to pool from in order to compose his gospel proving he didn’t need to invent sayings of Jesus or theological themes as Muslim often allege. We saw how the most primitive Christian texts and sources have just as high a christology as does John, thereby refuting the Muslim claim that John’s christology was developed and invented. We noted how although John has unique “I Am” sayings of Jesus, the synoptic gospels (including Mark) also have these kinds of sayings proving John’s should not be rejected. We explained why John having unique features of his gospel (such as his “I Am” statements, “Word,” and Lamb of God theology) does not mean he invented such things. Instead, it means the gospel writers had different literary and theological purposes for their gospels. We showed John reliably transmitted Jesus’ words with various lines of evidence. We argued John does not have a different overall portrait of Jesus compared to the other gospels. We proved John’s Gospel can be trusted in spite of the author’s bias and theological motivations. We established the disciple and eyewitness John truly did write the fourth gospel contrary to the claims of Muhammadans. We refuted Brown’s redactional theory of John’s Gospel which Shabir Ally and other Muslims adopted. And finally we showed John did not rely on Gnosticism as Bultmann falsely claimed, and as certain modern Muslims claim.

Although Muhammadans also bring up the issue of the dating of John’s Gospel, we already covered that elsewhere (68) and showed why this is not a problem historically. Hopefully this essay will educate Muslims as well as better equip Christians to refute Muhammadan claims about John’s precious Gospel. The Muslim attacks on John during debates or in writings can appear to be legitimate and damaging if they are not thoroughly inspected. But once they are, they are shown to be no more than desperate, foolhardy attempts to escape the truth of Jesus Christ.

The noetic effects of sin run deep in the minds of the liberals and unbelievers Muslims quote. That the minds of both the Muslims and the liberal scholars are devastatingly affected in this way becomes clear as their theological and historical claims are shown to be totally untenable and without merit. Therefore, it is necessary for redeemed, believing scholars to offer light to these dark-minded people. This essay clearly demonstrates this is indeed the case. 

End notes:

1) Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel, [IVP Academic, 2001], p. 56
2) Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel, [IVP Academic, 2001], p. 56
3) Richard Bauckham, John for Readers of Mark, in The Gospels for all Christians, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998], pp. 147-171
4) J. Ramsey Michaels, The Gospel of John, ed. Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2010], p. 29
5) Leon Morris, Studies in the Fourth Gospel, [Eerdmans, 1969], pp. 40-63; D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], pp. 258-259
6) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 258
7) Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel, [IVP Academic, 2001], pp. 71-281
8) Paul Barnett, Is the New Testament Reliable?, [InterVarsity Press, 2003], pp. 58-62
9) Paul Barnett, Is the New Testament Reliable?, [InterVarsity Press, 2003], p. 61
10) Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, 5; Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics, ch. 36; Origen, Commentary on the Book of Genesis III quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History III.1
11) Keith Thompson, Refuting the Catholic Priesthood and Penance
12) F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents, [InterVarsity Press, 1981], 56
13) R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, ed. Joel B. Green, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2007], p. 428
14) Moises Silva, Philippians, eds. Robert Yarborough, Robert H. Stein, [Baker Academic, 2005], p. 93
15) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 507
16) Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, ed. Bruce M. Metzger, Word Biblical Commentary, [Thomas Nelson, 2000], p. 33
17) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 522
18) Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel, [IVP Academic, 2001], p. 55
19) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 271
20) Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel, [IVP Academic, 2001], pp. 62-63
21) Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, [InterVarsity Press, 2007], p. 207
22) H. R. Reynolds, The Gospel of Saint John, Vol. 1, [Funk & Wagnalls, 1906], pp. 123-125
23) Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel, [IVP Academic, 2001], p. 52
24) See Shabir Ally’s opening statement in his debate with James White on the New Testament;
25) Raymond Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology, [Paulist Press, 1994], p. 73
26) Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, [InterVarsity Press, 2007], p. 209
27) D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, [Wm B. Eerdmans, 1991], p. 573
28) Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2009], p. 82
29) Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2009], p. 119
30) Corn. Nep. 16, Pelopidas
31) Geza Vermes, Jesus in his Jewish Context, [Fortress Press, 2003], p. 18 
32) Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2009], p. 122 parenthesis mine
33) Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, [InterVarsity Press, 1990], p. 257.
34) F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1981], p. 45
35) Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.1.1; II.22.5; III.3.4
36) Irenaeus, Letter to Florinus quoted in Eusebius, Church History, V.20.4-8
37) Eusebius, Church History, IV.14.2-6
38) Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, [InterVarsity Press, 1990], p. 270
39) Justin Martyr, First Apology, 61
40) Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66, 67
41) Justin Martyr, Dialogue 103
42) Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, [InterVarsity Press, 2011], p. 24
43) Tertullian, Against Marcion, IV.5
44) Clement of Alexandria quoted in Eusebius, Church History, VI.14.7
45) Origen quoted in Eusebius, Church History, VI.25.6
46) Theophilus, To Autolycus, II.22
47) Anti-Marcionite Prologue to John quoted in Ben C. Smith, The Latin Prologues,
48) Anti-Marcionite Prologue to Luke quoted in T. W. Manson, Studies in the Gospels and Epistles, [1962], p. 49
49) Muratorian Canon quoted in F. F. Bruce, The Gospel of John, [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1994], p. 10
50) Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, [InterVarsity Press, 2001], p. 25
51) Andreas J. Köstenberger, Encountering John, [Baker Academic, 2002], p. 25)
52) Shabir Ally, Did the Original Disciples of Jesus Consider Him God?, A Report on My Debate with Dr. James White at the University of Pretoria, 
53) Craig S. Keener, Gospel of John in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, [InterVarsity Press, 2013], p. 421 
54) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 246
55) Vern Poythress, “The Use of the Intersentence Conjunctions De, Oun, Kai, and Asyndeton in the Gospel of John,” NovT 26 (1984), pp. 312-340; “Testing for Johannine Authorship by Examining the Use of Conjunctions,” WTJ 46 (1984), pp. 350-369
56) Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, [InterVarsity Press, 2001], p. 40
57) Craig S. Keener, Gospel of John in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, [InterVarsity Press, 2013], p. 421
58) Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel, [InterVarsity Press, 2001], p. 40
59) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 249
60) Arthur G. Patzia, The Making of the New Testament, [InterVarsity Press, 2011], pp. 79-80, 81 parenthetical remarks mine
61) Ijaz Ahmed, The Gnostic Sources of the Gospel of John,
62) Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, [InterVarsity Press, 1990], p. 342
63) Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, [InterVarsity Press, 1990], p. 342
64) Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, ed. Gordon D. Fee, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, [Wm B. Eerdmans, 1995], p. 58; n. 191
65) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 256
66) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 256
67) D. A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, [Zondervan, 2005], p. 256
68) Keith Thompson, Are the Gospels too Late and Unreliable?,

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