Discussion of the crucifixion of Jesus generally leads to one of two conclusions: (1) "we are right and you are wrong" or (2) "agree to disagree." But both assume there is no common ground to be found. 

From Sunnī Tafsīr Literature

09 December 2022

Did Jesus Die on the Cross? 

Did Jesus die on the cross and then rise from the dead? This question has remarkable power to generate vigorous discussion between Muslims and Christians. Indeed, whenever Muslims and Christians discuss religious matters together, the topic of conversation almost always seems to turn sooner or later to this question. Perhaps this is not surprising in light of a history in which the Crusades’ exploitation of the cross as religious symbol transformed it from a sign which calls Christians to lay down their lives for others out of love into a sign of Christians’ readiness to kill others for their own selfish ends.

Discussion of the crucifixion of Jesus generally leads to one of two conclusions: 1) an effort by each side to persuade the other that “we are right and you are wrong,” or 2) a polite decision to “agree to disagree.” In either case this assumes that there is no common ground to be found on this question. It is the intent of this present paper to call that assumption into question. Specifically this paper will attempt a sympathetic examination of the Islamic tradition to see what answers to this question have been historically possible within the Muslim community. We will do this by examining the qur'ānic verses which underlie the discussion, and the history of mainstream Sunnī interpretation of these verses. A separate project (perhaps to be undertaken by a Muslim scholar?) would be to examine the Christian tradition in a similarly sympathetic way and then to consider what common ground may result from the two studies.


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