Jesus, John’s Gospel and Williams
Muslim apologist Paul Bilal Williams commented on a Christian blog, calling into question the historical reliability of John’s Gospel on the grounds that it reads differently from the other Gospels, and is somehow more interpretive and theologically developed than the rest.
July 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm
Firstly Paul (if you don’t object to me calling you be your real name) you need to establish that Jesus actually said the words attributed to him in the gospel of John.
The problem is this:
Evangelical scholar Richard Bauckham in his recent book on the gospels argues that the fourth gospel stems from an eyewitness to the ministry of Jesus (peace be upon him), namely, the disciple John. At the same time, however, Bauckham also acknowledges the differences between the fourth gospel and the Synoptics and argues that John is a more reflective and a highly interpreted account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Regarding the canonical gospels in general, he concludes:
In all four Gospels we have the history of Jesus only in the form of testimony, the testimony of involved participants who responded in faith to the disclosure of God in these events. In testimony fact and interpretation are inextricable; in this testimony empirical sight and spiritual perception are inseparable. (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, 2006, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., p. 411.)
Regarding the gospel of John specifically, Bauckham says:
All scholars, whatever their views of the redactional work of the Synoptic Evangelists and of the historical reliability of the Gospel of John, agree that the latter presents a much more thoroughly and extensively interpreted version of the story of Jesus. (Ibid. p. 410.)
The concurrence of historiographic and theological concepts of witness in John’s Gospel is wholly appropriate to the historical uniqueness of the subject matter, which as historical requires historiographic rendering but in its disclosure of God also demands that the witness to it speak of God. In this Gospel we have the idiosyncratic testimony of a disciple whose relationship to the events, to Jesus, was distinctive and different. It is a view from outside the circles from which other Gospel traditions largely derive, and it is the perspective of a man who was deeply but distinctively formed by his own experience of the events. In its origins and in its reflective maturation this testimony is idiosyncratic, and its truth is not distinguishable from its idiosyncrasy. As with all testimony, even that of the law court, there is a point beyond which corroboration cannot go, and only the witness can vouch for the truth of his own witness. (Ibid p. 411.)
According to Bauckham, the eyewitness author of the gospel of John did not just simply rehash mere eyewitness reports, but he also offered his highly reflective interpretations and understanding of the events:
… we can also apply the contrast between Mark (or the Synoptics in general) and John more widely. The greater selectivity of events recorded, the more continuous narrative with its more strongly delineated plot, the lengthy discourses and debates – all these distinctive features of the Gospel of John, as compared with the Synoptics, are what make possible the much fuller development of the author’s own interpretation of Jesus and his story, just as comparable features of the works of the Greco-Roman historians enable the expression of their own understanding of the history, making their works more than mere reports of what the eyewitnesses said. But in the case of the Gospel of John these characteristics are linked with its claim to be entirely the testimony of an author who was himself an eyewitness. In this case, the whole historiographic process of eyewitness observation and participation, interrogation of other eyewitnesses, arrangement and narrativization in the formation of an integrated and rhetorically persuasive work – all this was the work of an eyewitness, whose interpretation was, of course, in play at every level of the process, but in what one might think of as a cumulative manner, such that the finished Gospel has a high degree of highly reflective interpretation. The eyewitness claim justifies this degree of interpretation for a context in which the direct reports of the eyewitnesses were the most highly valued forms of testimony to Jesus. In the case of the other Gospels it was important that the form of the eyewitness testimonies was preserved in the Gospels. The more reflective interpretive Gospel of John does not, by contrast, assimilate the eyewitness reports beyond recognition into its own elaboration of the story, but is, as it stands, the way one eyewitness understood what he and others had seen. The author’s eyewitness status authorizes the interpretation. Thus, whereas scholars have often supposed that this Gospel could not have been written by an eyewitness because of its high degree of interpretation of the events and the words of Jesus, by contrast with the Synoptics, in fact the high degree of interpretation is appropriate precisely because this is the only one of the canonical Gospels that claims eyewitness authorship. (Ibid. pp. 410 – 411.)
Note that Bauckham does not deny the “highly reflective interpretational” status of the gospel of John. He only justifies it by arguing that the author was an eyewitness.
In light of the above, even if we are to accept the fourth gospel as a product of an eyewitness, it does not mean that we can simply read off from its surface the words attributed to Jesus as if Jesus literally uttered them in his historical ministry. (Badmanna’s Blog, “The Son sees and does what the Father is doing therefore the Son possesses the same divine essence as the Father”)
Talk about being blatantly inconsistent!
Williams calls into question the veracity of John’s Gospel, even though it is a first century document that Williams’ own cited author admits was written by an eyewitness of the historical Jesus, solely because it reads differently from the other Gospels!
And yet Williams follows a book which comes over 600 yeas later (which assumes that the traditional dating is correct, an assumption which we have no good reasons for accepting), that was composed by a so-called prophet who never met the historical Jesus, and never knew (let alone interviewed) the eyewitnesses to Jesus, whose views about Jesus contradict the testimony of the Synoptic Gospels!
Now wouldn’t this mean that Williams would have to reject Muhammad’s testimony, much like he rejects John’s Gospel, seeing that the former’s statements concerning Christ do not agree with the Synoptic Gospels?
The irony here is that, unlike Muhammad, John at least agrees with the other Gospel writers concerning the Person and work of Christ.
For instance, all four of the Gospels testify that Jesus is God’s unique, beloved Son:
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.’ And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.” Mark 9:2-8 – cf. 1:11; 12:1-8
“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matthew 11:27 – cf. Luke 10:22
“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:35-36
“So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.’” John 5:19-20
All of them agree that Jesus is the Son of Man:
“And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘My son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, ‘Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Rise, take up your bed and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic—‘I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.’ And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” Mark 2:5-12 – cf. Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26
“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:8 – Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5
“While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?’” Luke 22:47-48
“But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Acts 7:55-56
“No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,’” John 3:13-14
“Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?” John 6:62 – cf. 6:27; 8:28, 9:35; 12:23, 34; 13:31-32
In fact, they even agree that Jesus is the Danielic Son of Man (cf. Dan. 7:13-14) who judges and determines the eternal fate of all the nations, with angels attending and serving him:
“Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send HIS angels, and they will gather out of HIS kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.’” Matthew 13:36-43
“When the Son of Man comes in HIS glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on HIS glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’… Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’… And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46 – cf. Mark 8:38; 14:61b-62
“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in HIS glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26 – cf. 12:40; 17:22-30; 18:8; 21:27, 36
“Nathanael answered him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered him, ‘Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’” John 1:49-51
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him… And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” John 5:22-23, 27
All of them agree that Jesus receives reverence and worship:
“Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” Matthew 14:33
“Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when he had come out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said to him, ‘What have I do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you by God that you do not torment me.’” Mark 5:1-7
“Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.’ So Jesus went with him.” Mark 5:22-24a
“But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.” Mark 7:25-26
“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Luke 24:50-53
“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Who is he, Lord?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” John 9:35-38
All of them agree that the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ and that Jesus baptizes his followers with the Holy Spirit:
“Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, ‘After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” Mark 1:6-10 – cf. Matthew 3:11-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
“John bore witness about him, and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.”’ … The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.” I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.’” John 1:15, 29-34
All of them agree that Jesus is the Savior:
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17
“They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’” John 4:42
“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” John 12:47
All of them agree that Jesus came to save people from their sins by offering his life as a vicarious sacrifice:
“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 – cf. Mark 10:45
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28 – cf. Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20
“‘I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’” John 6:48-54
All of them agree that Jesus would (and did) rise from the dead on the third day:
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Matthew 16:21 – cf. 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 27:62-66; Mark 8:31-32; 9:30-31; 10:32-34; 14:58; 15:29
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.’ And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest… That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?’ And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’ And he said to them, ‘What things?’ And they said to him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.’… Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” Luke 24:1-9, 13-24, 44-47 – cf. 9:21-22, 43-45; 18:31-34
“And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” Acts 10:39-41
“So the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” John 2:19-22
All of them agree that Jesus was crucified alongside two others, with the Roman soldiers dividing his garments among themselves and casting lots for his clothing, and with an inscription placed above his head with the charge “King of the Jews” written on it:
“And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left… Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.” Mark 15:21-27, 32 – cf. Matthew 27:32-38; Luke 23:32-43
“So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but rather, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.’ This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.’” John 19:16-24a
All of them agree that there were a group of Jesus’ followers who were present at his crucifixion:
“There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.” Mark 15:40-41 – cf. Matthew 27:55-56, 61; Luke 23:55-56
“… So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:24b-27
All of them agree that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus in his own tomb:
“And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.” Mark 15:42-47 – cf. Matthew 27:62-66; Luke 23:50-56
“After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” John 19:38-42
All of them agree that it was a group of Jesus’ women followers that first discovered the empty tomb:
“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?’ And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Mark 16:1-8 – cf. Matthew 28:1-10; Luke 24:1-12, 22-24
“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and WE do not know where they have laid him.’” John 20:1-2
What makes this all the more damaging to Williams’s criticism is that the oldest extant document on Muhammad’s life identifies John’s Gospel as the very Gospel which God revealed to and through Jesus!
“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; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The above Muslim biographer quotes John 15:23-16:1 and says that it is taken from the Gospel of Christ which John wrote down for Jesus’ followers, without a word of it being corrupted or unreliable!
What makes Ibn Ishaq’s witness all the more important is that his biography underwent a purging at the hands of Ibn Hisham in the ninth century AD. Ibn Hisham omitted material from Ibn Ishaq that he felt was either weak or damaging to Muhammad’s credibility. And yet he left Ibn Ishaq’s testimony concerning John’s Gospel intact, which implies that it met his demands for authenticity.
Now if Williams still wants to question the reliability of John’s Gospel on the grounds that it doesn’t read exactly the same way as the other Gospels do, or that it contains more explicit statements from Jesus concerning his divine identity not found in the others, despite their complete agreement with one another concerning Christ’s Person and work, then wouldn’t consistency and integrity demand that he also reject the Quran seeing that it totally opposes the portrait of Christ found in the Synoptic Gospels?
Hopefully, Williams will prove to be a man of integrity and do the honest thing by rejecting Muhammad as a false prophet. After all, if he is going to consistently apply his own criticisms of the Holy Bible to the Quran then he has no choice but to abandon Islam and stop being a Muslim. He simply has no other choice.