Todd Lawson, Ph.D. (1989) is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Thought at the University of Toronto. He has published widely on Quranic exegesis, mysticism, Shi‘ism, and Quranic literary problems. Recent publications include articles such as Friendship, Illumination and the Water of Life (2016), Joycean Modernism in a 19th century Qur’an commentary (2015), The Qur’an and Epic (2014) and the monograph Gnostic Apocalypse in Islam (London 2012).
The first book to examine the controversial Qur’anic phrase which divides Christianity and Islam. According to the majority of modern Muslims and Christians, the Qur’an denies the crucifixion of Jesus, and with it, one of the most sacred beliefs of Christianity. However, it is only mentioned in one verse - "They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, rather, it only appeared so to them" - and contrary to popular belief, its translation has been the subject of fierce debate among muslims for centuries. This the first book devoted to the issue, delving deeply into largely ignored Arabic sources, which suggest the the origins of the conventional translation may lie within the Christian Church. Arranged along historical lines, and covering various Muslim schools of thought, from Sunni to Sufi, The Crucifixion and the Qur’an unravels the crucial dispute that separates the World’s two principal faiths.
This fascinating work is the product of many years of scholarship. Accentuating the neutrality of the Qur’an’s position, it is suggested that over successive centuries the discussion of the crucifixion within the Islamic tradition was proportionately evolved to accommodate the doctrine of denial in a way which obscured the neutrality of the original Qur’anic position. One can certainly admire the clarity and rigour with which Lawson eloquently presents his arguments and authoritatively marshals the sources, especially given the gamut of materials consulted in this work. The detailed manner by which these sources are introduced and examined within the broader discussion of the crucifixion in Islamic thought makes the book an absorbing read and an importance reference point for material on this subject. Particularly informative is Lawson’s thorough treatment of the historical development of the exegetical materials on the substitution theory, as it reveals the fascinating extent to which this was adapted and fleshed out in the different tafásír. – Mustafa Shah, Journal of Qur’anic Studies (vol. 12, Oct 2010)