The Non-Crucifixion Verse: A Historical, Contextual, and Linguistic Analysis

My paper “The Non-Crucifixion Verse: A Historical, Contextual, and Linguistic Analysis” has been published in The American Journal of Islam and Society. This is the most detailed justification of the majority view that the Qur’an denies that Jesus was crucified. Below is the abstract but the paper is available in full here.


Over the centuries, there has been almost a consensus among Muslims and non-Muslims that the crucifixion of Jesus is denied in the Qur’an, mainly because of al-Nisāʾ 4:157. This overwhelmingly accepted interpretation has been challenged in recent times, albeit by a small minority of scholars, by suggesting novel interpretations of 4:157 and seeking support from history and other verses. This study first reviews how, from the early days of Islam, denying the crucifixion of Jesus was always seen by both Muslims and non-Muslims as the established Islamic view. It analyses the theological arguments of the minority view, promoted by some early Ismāʿīlī scholars and modern scholars, that the Qur’an does not deny Jesus’ crucifixion. A new attempt, which has been gathering some support, linking 4:157 to the Talmud is then critiqued. This study shows that the immediate context of 4:157 and the broader Qur’anic narrative also refute the new interpretation. A detailed linguistic analysis of the verse in question further shows that it cannot be reasonably read to mean anything other than rejecting that Jesus was crucified. In summary, history and a detailed study of 4:157 and related verses show that there is hardly any basis to justify challenging the centuries-long semi-consensus that the Qur’an denies the crucifixion of Jesus.

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