Opening the Qur'an
Introducing Islam's Holy Book
568 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268044220 | July 2010
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268158484 | July 2010
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268096540 | July 2010
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.
Walter H. Wagner is adjunct professor of history and biblical studies at Moravian College, Moravian Theological Seminary, and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He is the author of a number of books, including After the Apostles: Christianity in the Second Century.
“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
"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
“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
“Wagner describes the content and intent of the Qur'an for fellow Christians with the intention of fostering understanding of Islam and its practices. He focuses on the spiritual depth of the Qur'an as a whole rather than on specific passages, thereby explaining its attractions to diverse and interethnic communities.” —Reference & Research Book News
“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
“. . . this book is a sympathetic and sincere attempt to present the Qur’an to an American non-Muslim but religiously oriented audience.” —Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies
“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 Quar’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