Mark Swanson

Harold S. Vogelaar Professor of Christian-Muslim Studies and Interfaith Relations; Associate Director of A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice

Headshot of Mark Swanson



  • Islam and Christian-Muslim relations
  • Christian faith and religious diversity
  • The history of Christianity in Egypt; Middle Eastern Christianity; Christian Arabic studies
  • Global Christianity (and the global Christian presence in North America)
  • The history of Christian spirituality


  • B.S., California Institute of Technology
  • M.Div., Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
  • C.A.S.A. certificate (Arabic), American University in Cairo
  • M.A.R.S. (Islamic Studies), Hartford Seminary
  • Doctorate, Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi
  • e d’Islamistica (PISAI), Rome


An ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mark Swanson came to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago from Luther Seminary, where he directed the Islamic Studies Program (and taught early and medieval church history). Before that he served for 14 years on the faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt. He writes papers and edits books on the history of the Coptic Church, Arabic Christian literature, and Christian-Muslim relations. He takes delight in exploring the religious diversity of our great cities, starting with Chicago.

Current assignments include:

Advisory Board Member, Middle Eastern Christianity Group, American Academy of Religion

Chair, ELCA Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Muslim Relations

Member of editorial/advisory boards, including:

  • Coptica (journal of Coptic studies, Los Angeles)
  • Christian Arabic Texts in Translation (book series, Fordham University Press)
  • Arabic Christianity: Texts and Studies (monograph series, Brill)

Member of a team cataloguing the Coptic and Arabic manuscripts of the Library of Dayr al-Suryān (the Monastery of the Syrians), Wādī l-Naṭrūn, Egypt (led by Prof. Stephen J. Davis of Yale University, at the invitation of Bishop Mataeos, funded by the William K. Simpson Endowment for Egyptology at Yale University)


Books, co-edited volumes

  • Copts in Modernity, ed. Lisa Agaiby, Mark N. Swanson, and Nelly van Doorn-Harder (Leiden and Boston: Brill, forthcoming).
  • Heirs of the Apostles: Studies on Arabic Christianity in Honor of Sidney H. Griffith, ed. David Bertaina, Sandra Toenies Keating, Mark N. Swanson, and Alexander Treiger (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2019).
  • Non-Muslim Communities in Fatimid Egypt (10th–12th Centuries CE), ed. Maryann M. Shenoda, Johannes den Heijer, Yaacov Lev, and Mark N. Swanson = special issue of Medieval Encounters 21, nos. 4–5 (2015).
  • The Coptic Papacy in Islamic Egypt (641-1517), The Popes of Egypt 2 (Cairo and New York: American University in Cairo Press, 2010).
  • Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History, vols. 1-5 (600-1500), ed. David Thomas, Barbara Roggema, and Alex Mallett, with Juan Pedro Monferrer Sala, Johannes Pahlitzsch, Mark Swanson, Herman Teule, and John Tolan (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2009-2013).
  • The Encounter of Eastern Christianity with Early Islam, ed. Emmanuela Grypeou, Mark N. Swanson and David Thomas, The History of Christian-Muslim Relations 4 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006).
  • Folly to the Hunafā’: The Cross of Christ in Arabic Christian-Muslim Controversy in the Eighth and Ninth Centuries A.D., doctoral dissertation, Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Rome, 1992.

Articles and Chapters

  • Please reference a full list of Dr. Swanson’s articles and chapters here.
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