Walter H. Wagner
“Walter Wagner’s Opening the Quran: Introducing Islam’s Holy Book raises excellent questions designed to draw in curious readers. He then follows up with sound analysis that is easy to grasp. Wagner has clearly learned much about the Qur’an and Islam. What is more he has found a most appealing way to speak about what he has learned to his fellow non-Muslims.” — Charles E. Butterworth, University of Maryland, College Park
“The Qur’an can be terra incognita for the non-Muslim reader. Walter Wagner’s learned book brings us to terra firma. With clear, empathetic, religiously sensitive yet historical-critical commentary, Opening the Qur’an makes sense of Islam’s holy book. Wagner is a rare guide: a committed Christian who has listened carefully and sympathetically to Muslims, who understand the Quran as God’s word. Wagner conveys their faith without compromising his own. This is more than a work of scholarship and pedagogy; it is an act of respect from one great tradition to another.” — Alan Mittleman, The Jewish Theological Seminary
“A number of observers, like Mahmood Mamdani, have pointed out that contemporary events have led to an expansion in the market for translations of the Qur’an. This book will assist and guide readers of these Qur’an translations in the English language. This book could be used in introductory courses on Islam or advanced courses focusing exclusively on Islam’s holy Book . . . general readers outside the academy may also find it useful in helping them understand how to use and make sense of the Qur’an.” — A. Rashied Omar, The Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
“This is not just a book that is being introduced but a context, a culture, its teachings, and the way Muslims have been interpreting, finding meaning, and living in obedience to the Qur’an over the centuries. . . . I highly recommend this book for use in schools and seminaries and even church study groups where people are serious about learning why the Qur’an is considered by Muslims to be God’s final revelation. The book’s step-by-step procedure and the important glossary of key terms in the back are extremely useful for readers who are being introduced to the Qur’an for the first time.” — Harold Vogelaar, Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice, Lutheran School of Theology
Opening the Qur’an can be a bewildering experience to non-Muslim, English-speaking readers. Those who expect historical narratives, stories, or essays on morals are perplexed once they pass the beautiful first Surah, often shocked and then bogged down by Surah 2, and even offended by Surah 3’s strictures against nonbelievers. Walter H. Wagner “opens” the Qur’an by offering a comprehensive and extraordinarily readable, step-by-step introduction to the text, making it accessible to students, teachers, clergy, and general readers interested in Islam and Islam’s holy Book.
Wagner first places the prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, and the early Muslim community in their historical, geographical, and theological contexts. This background is a basis for interpreting the Qur’an and understanding its role in later Muslim developments as well as for relationships between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He then looks in detail at specific passages, moving from cherished devotional texts to increasingly difficult and provocative subjects. The selected bibliography serves as a resource for further reading and study. Woven into the discussion are references to Islamic beliefs and practices. Wagner shows great sensitivity toward the risks and opportunities for non-Muslims who attempt to interpret the Qur’an, and sympathy in the long struggle to build bridges of mutual trust and honest appreciation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
“For non-Muslim, English-speaking readers of the Qur’an who become overwhelmed and perplexed, Wagner . . . comes to the rescue. . . . This is a well-researched, thoughtful, and fair-minded treatment. Highly recommended for academic collections and general public library readership. — Library Journal
“Not a Muslim himself, Wagner respectfully and pedagogically brings Christians, Jews, and others to a careful selection of representative texts, to their contexts, and to their meaning and relevance. A better book for its important purpose is hard to imagine.” — Review for Religious
“_Opening the Qur’an_ is the fruit of a remarkable effort by a Christian scholar, Walter Wagner, to understand the Qur’an and its place in Islamic society. . . . All of Opening the Qur’an . . . is marked by Wagner’s sincere effort to deepen his own theological reflections while reading the Qur’an. In this, his work makes an important contribution to the contemporary Muslim-Christian conversation.” — The Catholic Historical Review
“This is a carefully reasoned, meticulous, and well-written book. Although somewhat challenging as a basic introduction, it would be of value to someone who is already familiar with Islam and the Qur’an and wishes to delve into it more deeply.” — Catholic Library World
“Christian theologian Wagner has done an impressive job of bracketing his own personal views so as to approach the Qur’an on its own terms. The result is a penetrating analysis cast in a highly readable style. In 14 substantive chapters the book covers the major issues of concern to non-Muslims. . . . This volume might well serve as a text in introductory, college-level courses on the Qur’an; additionally it will be of value to general readers interested in a fresh, nonpartisan approach to Islam’s holy book.” — Choice
“In Wagner’s lengthy, highly detailed, and well-written introduction to the Qur’an, the author sees himself as a non-Muslim offering an entry into the Qur’an for other non-Muslims. He proceeds by first contextualizing the prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, and the early Muslim community, historically, geographically, and theologically. With that as the basis for interpreting the Qur’an and understanding its role as Islam developed and its role in Islam’s relationships with Jews and Christians, Wagner then discusses specific passages, including both devotional texts and such provocative subjects as the Qur’an on women, on justice, on jihad, on martyrdom, and on the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority societies. . . . Wagner has provided an introduction to the Qur’an that will surely be of great value in a wide spectrum of educational settings.” — Journal of Ecumenical Studies
“Wagner introduces much more than just a book; [sic] he opens the reader to a world of historical context, culture, and some fifteen hundred years of interpretation.” — Stone-Campbell Journal
Chosen by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title in 2009Rated an “Outstanding” title in The University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries for 2009, published by the American Library Association with support from The American Association of School Librarians and The Public Library AssociationWinner of the Bronze 2008 Book of the Year Award for Religion, Foreword Magazine