In addition to my two threads on surah 4.157 (and the issues of the death and crucifixion of Jesus in the Qur'an- first; second), there seems of late, to have been a fair amount of interest in this particular ayah from the Qur'an. The following are a few of the examples I have recently come across on the internet:
At the website called, Antioch Believer!, Asf Aslan (the owner who resides in Antioch, Turkey, and describes himself as a "Minister of the Gospel"), posted the thread, What does the Quran say about Jesus death?, back on July 1, 2011. In that thread he wrote:
In the verse 4:157 please notice carefully, “WA lakin shubbiha lahum” means "He was made to resemble to them" or "it was made to resemble to them" or "a likeness of that was made for them" or "a similitude was made for them" -- not "someone was made to resemble him". In the sentences, "it" or "that" refers to the incident and not a person.
In fact, I don't see in Q 4:157-158 a denial of Christ's death, nor yet a denial of His crucifixion. Actually, I see a harmony between the text of that Surah, and John's gospel, when Jesus said; Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.- John 10.17-18.
After further commentary, Asf Aslan concludes his post with:
The Quran is not actually denying His crucifixion, nor yet His death. And to consider that He was raised up to life, and subsequently raised up to Allah, as is also in harmony with Bible (John 20.9-17; Acts 1.2-3, 9). Please click here for more details on Jesus death from the Quran.
On the site, A Christian Thinktank, a long, but very informative, response was given to a "truth-seeking Muslim", who had questions about the death of Jesus on the cross (SEE THIS THREAD). The entire thread is a must read (IMHO), but at the end of the post, the following summation is provided:
Ok, let’s try to summarize this data:From the pen of Gabriel Reynolds, the Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology Director, at the University of Notre Dame, we read:
1. The non-controversial Qur’anic references to the death of Christ are clear in affirming a historical death.
2. Because of a perceived conflict with an interpretation of 4:157, these verses were re-interpreted (sometimes almost bizarrely).
3. Muslim and non-Muslim interpreters know that God caused Jesus to die—no human agency could take credit for it.
4. Muslim and non-Muslim scholars know that the passage is obscure and not clear enough to build such a ‘large’ doctrine on. (Some even add the phrase ‘And God knows best what happened’!)
5. Scholarly exegetes who were closer/truer to the text tended to reject/criticize the substitution legends.
6. It is frequently known that it is not the Qur’an that denies the historicity of the Cross, but rather some interpreters of the Qur’an who do so.
7. The range of interpretation of the verse by Muslims over the years shows that ‘denial of the Cross’ was not an early/reliable and consensus tradition.
8. Many (most?) modern Muslim scholars do not hold to the non-historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus.
9. There were several equally plausible ways of understanding the verse, which fit with the other Qur’anic witnesses and the witness of the prior Books.
10. The early Shi’i community explicitly accepted the historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus.
11. The Qur’an itself shows that the objection that “Prophets are protected by God from such deaths” is false.
12. Several Muslim intellectuals had argued over the centuries that the substitution legends were illegitimate intrusions into the interpretation, mostly coming from the unreliable Isra ‘iliyyat (from both Jewish and Christian sources). And in some cases the alleged Islamic sources were too suspect themselves to be used for establishing proper Muslim belief.
13. Several of the most learned, respected, and submitted Islamic scholars in history rejected or criticized the substitution view.
14. The grammar of the controversial passage militates against it supporting a substitution theory.
15. Some Muslim scholars/groups held (a few still hold) that Jesus was crucified, but that only His body died—His spirit was alive to God.
16. But the understanding which makes the most sense out of the passage, the other passages on death, the repudiation of the boasts of the Jews in 4:157, their uncertainty about their success in overcoming/extinguishing a Prophet of God, and the wording about the Battle of Badr (and the passage in the Zabur 44 I cited) is that God caused Jesus to die at the hands of the Jewish enemies—for His own sovereign purposes—but that He cancelled that death and exalted/raised Jesus up to honored status as a Living Teacher, Prophet, and Judge who will come again at the end of time.
17. This latter understanding agrees with the pre-Qur’anic revelation—in conformity to the claims of the Qur’an itself that it ‘confirms’ the Hebrew Bible and New Testament (as they existed at the time of Mohammed).
This point might be taken still further. If tafsīr indeed provides an accurate explanation of the Quran’s original, intended meaning, then nowhere should the explanation be clearer than in the case of the Crucifixion. If the Prophet Muhammad announced to his companions that Jesus never died, but rather someone who was made miraculously to look like him died in his place, i.e. if he gave a historical account of the crucifixion which fundamentally contradicts that which Jews and Christians had been reporting for hundreds of years, then certainly such a revolutionary account – if any – would be well remembered and well preserved. But, quite to the contrary, the reports of the mufassirūn are inconsistent and often contradictory. They have all of the tell-tale signs of speculative exegesis.Further contributions that are germane to our topic, which are available online, include the following:
This strikes me as reason enough for critical scholars to read this quranic passage in light of earlier (i.e. Jewish and Christian) and not later (i.e. Islamic exegesis) literature. When the Quran is read in this light, it quickly becomes apparent that the passage on the crucifixion is fully in line with Christian anti-Jewish rhetoric. A major theme of this rhetoric, of course, is the portrayal of the Jews as prophet-killers. Accordingly the Quran, in sūrat al-nisā’ (4) 155, accuses the Jews of “murdering the prophets”. When the Quran then alludes to the crucifixion just two verses later, it means to give the cardinal example of just such a murder. (The Muslim Jesus: Dead or Alive?)
Via the Reformed site Contra Mundum: The Crucifixion of Jesus in Muslim Theology
The Answering Islam site provides M.N. Anderson's, "Strike The Truth In the Cross" (Part 4 of his, Jesus The Light And Fragrance of God) - LINK
And at the blog, Religious Roundtable, the thread: The Crucifixion and the Quran.
Anyway, thought I would share some of my recent discoveries on this important issue—ENJOY!!!
Grace and peace,