Note: This is a rather long question with a relatively short answer.


Recently I found some interesting claims about the Gospel of John.  These are quotations of the Muslim critic Misha’al Al-Kadhi and his references to Christian scholars, that should bring doubt about the Gospel of John:  1. “Even at that, it is recognized that the “Gospel of John” has undergone extensive editing in multiple stages and was most likely not the work of one author, but many: “We have already noted that John’s gospel is a literary unit, which may be analyzed in terms of dramatic structure. But, despite the unity of the gospel was we now have it, there are some features that suggest it was composed in edited stages. For example there are differences in style and language in various parts of the gospel, especially chaps. 1 and 21 … Thus the first two signs performed by Jesus are numbered ‘first’ and ‘second’ (2.11; 4.54), yet in 2.23 we hear of other signs that he did, and the sequence is thus unaccountably interrupted. The geographical locations, also, do not appear to be constantly exact. So in 3.22 we read that Jesus went into Judea, whereas according to 2.23 he was already there; and in 6.1 it is implied that Jesus is in Galilee, although in the end of chap. 5 he is in Jerusalem….It is possible to account for some but not all of these variations, repetitions and breaks in continuity….” etc. The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, p. 374″

2. “Heraclitus was the earliest Greek thinker to make logos a central concept… In the New Testament, the Gospel According to Saint John gives a central place to logos; the biblical author describes the Logos as God, the Creative Word, who took on flesh in the man Jesus Christ. Many have traced John’s conception to Greek origins–perhaps through the intermediacy of eclectic texts like the writings of Philo of Alexandria.”  T. W. Doane says:  “The works of Plato were extensively studied by the Church Fathers, one of whom joyfully recognizes in the great teacher, the schoolmaster who, in the fullness of time, was destined to educate the heathen for Christ, as Moses did the Jews. The celebrated passage : “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God” is a fragment of some Pagan treatise on the Platonic philosophy, evidently written by Irenaeus. It is quoted by Amelius, a Pagan philosopher as strictly applicable to the Logos, or Mercury, the Word, apparently as an honorable testimony borne to the Pagan deity by a barbarian……..We see then that the title “Word” or “Logos,” being applied to Jesus, is another piece of Pagan amalgamation with Christianity. It did not receive its authorized Christian form until the middle of the second century after Christ. The ancient pagan Romans worshipped a Trinity. An oracle is said to have declared that there was ‘First God, then the Word, and with them the Spirit’. Here we see the distinctly enumerated, God, the Logos, and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, in ancient Rome, where the most celebrated temple of this capital – that of Jupiter Capitolinus – was dedicated to three deities, which three deities were honored with joint worship.” From Bible Myths and their parallels in other religions, pp. 375-376.”

Is there at least some truth at this claims? Number 1 is talking about evidence that the Gospel of John was written by different people since there are chronological inconsistencies and differences in style of language.  Can it be true at all?  The second claim is that some oracle would invoke Jupiter, Logos, and Holy Spirit… As well it implies that Irenaeus is the author of the Gospel of John.  I am aware of some controversy about Logos as a term, and its origins, but this Muslim goes way beyond that… can you comment on these please? It would be awesome to see your thoughts on Logos and its origins!


First of all, why is a Muslim even reading the Book of John, and, second, why would a Christian even listen to what a Muslim has to say about the Book of John?  Why not study what Christian scholars, who obviously know much more about this book, rather than a Muslim unbeliever who is only reading the book so that he can destroy your faith in the Bible?

As to multiple authors, I have read several commentaries on the Book of John, and I remain convinced that there is one author.  I am an author myself.  When I write introductions (like John 1) or epilogues/appendices (Like John 21), I naturally use a different style.  In fact, I personally believe that John probably wrote his epilogue at a different–probably well after he wrote the body of the book–and then attached it to his gospel.  I also believe that John wrote the first chapter as a prologue to the book, with an intentionally different style. However, I need some solid evidence that someone other than John wrote this epilogue, not just some statement by a Muslim who does not believe in Jesus.  Here is what I would say:  The early church, and by early I mean the second century church, believed that John was the author of all of the Gospel of John, and they were in a much better position to judge than a Muslim critic two thousand years later.  I believe those who knew people who actually knew John, such as Irenaeus, Ignatius and Papias over this guy.  I need some better evidence than slightly different writing style and vocabulary in the prologue and epilogue of John to convince me that there is more than one author.  I believe he is simply wrong.

It is true that John is not strictly chronological.  That has been acknowledged by scholars for many years.  Ancient Near Eastern authors paid more attention to rhetorical style and themes than to chronology, and this is true of the author of John.  This does not mean that John is not inspired or that John has errors.  If we put John in the context of 1st century Near Eastern literature, the lack of absolute attention to chronology is not a problem.

Since we have the Rylands papyrus (in the Rylands Museum in Manchester, UK), which is a manuscript from AD 125 of the Book of John, the idea that Irenaeus, whose career was about AD 140-180 had any role in writing John is ludicrous and is evidence that the one making the accusation does not know what they are talking about.  This whole section of the criticism is utter nonsense.

John, the author of John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, chose to use the logos idea to talk about Jesus.  That the Greeks also used this word for their philosophical speculations is probably part of why John used the term to talk about Jesus in his gospel!  So what?  The inspired Bible writer described Jesus using this term.  Again, so what?  What is the point?  I say “Good job, John, for using the term logos to talk about Jesus, the Son of God.”  What is the point of the critic?  That Christians could not use the word logos to talk about Jesus, the Son of God?  I fail to see why this is problematic.  If we use the language of those we live among, then we will use words that the pagans use.  This is unavoidable.  What other words can we use but those that the pagans also use?  Again, what is the point here?  Is the point that John should not have used the word logos just because the Greek pagans philosophers also used it?  Why could John not use this term if it helped to explain Jesus to people?  And it has helped Christians to understand Jesus for almost two thousand years.  This “point” by the critic is not a point at all in my opinion.

John Oakes

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