Qur'anic Approaches to Jesus Christ in the Perspective of Comparative Theology

The Christology is among Christians and Muslims generally regarded as the crucial point of difference between the two religions. For instance, whereas for Christians the belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God establishes a core belief, Muslims seem to feel that refusing this belief is a fundamental part of their faith. Consequently, the Christian confession of Jesus as the Christ is considered to be the single most important difference between Islam and Christianity. On the other hand, there is probably no other religion besides Christianity, which acknowledges in the normative foundations of its own faith such a deep appreciation of the person and life of Jesus of Nazareth as Islam. Therefore, it can be stated without much debate that the Islamic tradition has always cultivated a remarkable fascination with Jesus of Nazareth. Interestingly, Jesus of Nazareth receives in the Quran occasionally even a higher position than Muhammad. Given some Quranic statements in which Jesus is described as the Word of God, it seems very intriguing to examine these statements towards their Christological content. The project will therefore scrutinize whether it is feasible, from a particularly Christian perspective, to recognize the Quranic appreciations of Jesus of Nazareth as a form of Christology, which could possibly be saying something valuable to Christians. In accordance with that thought one can also ask, whether the Christian faith could accommodate to a certain extend the depiction of Jesus of Nazareth in the Quran within its own frame of belief and could the peculiarity of this approach be regarded as an enrichment of the Christian identity. Similarly, a Muslim Comparative Theology should discuss the question whether the relationship between the Christian confession of Jesus as the Christ and the Quranic statements about Jesus can be reviewed on the grounds of offering a new understanding of Jesus to Islamic thought. The intra- Muslim debate on this point between Sunnis and Shiites seem to carry specific differences that can also be detected in the hadith literature and the commentary traditions. They all engage diverse approaches to comment on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, it therefore is reasonable to evaluate the denomination's interpretations of Jesus separately. After focusing on the Shia approach to this set of questions in the first period of our project, we would like to work in more detail on the Sunni approach now. The Sunni perspective on this matter will be accessed through the new hermeneutical approaches to the Quran, as it is introduced for example by Mouhanad Khorchide. It will also be informed through the results of the Corpus Coranicum project in Berlin.

Duration of the project: 2013-2018/ funded by the German Research Assocation (DFG)