gnickel's blog

Folly to the Hunafa'

After the Muslim Conquest of the 7th century, Middle Eastern Christians who had been quietly and consistently affirming the redemptive death of Jesus for six centuries were suddenly faced with an aggressive denial of their faith from their new overlords.

Muslims linked their denial of the death of Jesus to their understanding of Q4.157, but made other arguments from Islamic theology and anthropology. One scholar who has focused his research on Christian-Muslim controversy over this point is Mark Swanson, director of the Islamic Studies program at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Debating the Cross in Early Christian Dialogue with Muslims

Truth claims made by a scripture and/or a scriptural community never remain confined to that community alone. Rather, they have implications for people outside the community as well. Most Muslims have interpreted Q4.157 to mean that Jesus did not die on the cross. When they began to make this claim to Christians, Christians were understandably interested.

The Muslim Jesus: Dead or Alive?

The lead article in the latest Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies is by Gabriel Said Reynolds, assistant professor of Islamic Studies at Notre Dame University. Gabriel addresses the controversy surrounding the Qur'anic verses related to the death of Jesus. He provocatively titles his article "The Muslim Jesus: Dead or alive?"

How can so many Christians be wrong?

Qur'anic Commentary on the death of Jesus has generally asserted that Jesus did not die. This judgment is usually related to an understanding of the meaning of Q 4.156-159, especially verse 157. In England in September, I met scholars who have published interesting articles on this subject. This Fall I would like to describe several of these articles, focus one or two of the key issues for discussion, and invite your comments.

Mismatch over the punishment for adultery

No discussion of the Muslim stories about the collection of the Qur'an can leave out the scholarship of John Burton. Burton published one of the first modern studies on this topic in 1972*; and 30 years later he wrote the entry on this topic for The Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an. In between, he published his book The Collection of the Qur'an (Cambridge University Press, 1977).

Stories of a Collection

One of the most powerful truth claims which Muslims make today is that the Qur'an was fully formed within about 25 years of the death of the messenger of Islam in the seventh century, and that it has remained protected in exactly this form for almost 1400 years. Because this claim is so common and so explosive, the December blogs will seek to describe the most recent scholarship on this topic.

Codices of the Qur'an

We should be very grateful for the research of scholars who have gone the distance with difficult and very specialized questions related to the development of the Qur'an. In the previous blog I described some of the research of Frederik Leemhuis into the variant readings of the Qur'an. Leemhuis goes over some of the same ground--but also extends his analysis--in his EQ article on "codices," or early copies of the complete text of the Qur'an.

Variant Readings of the Qur'an

The variant readings of the Qur'an (in Arabic qira'at or huruf) is a subject which is very poorly known by non-Muslims and Muslims alike. And yet it is essential to try to get a grasp of this subject if there is ever going to be a meaningful discussion of the challenges of ancient manuscripts which Hebrew Bible, New Testament and Qur'an share.

Manuscripts of the Qur'an

The study of ancient manuscripts is no task for amateurs. Even when reading the descriptions by those best qualified, amateurs can misunderstand and/or draw the wrong conclusions. There is no guarantee that this amateur will get it right, but if you see something wrong, let me know by posting a comment below.

Western Scholarship and the Qur'an

Where to best start a series of blogs on articles which discuss the development of the Qur'an? Why not first hear from Andrew Rippin about the history of the development of "scholarly" approaches to the Qur'an?

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