Claiming Abraham

Reading the Bible and the Qur’an Side by Side

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"In a novel approach to interreligious dialogue, Lodahl puts the Bible and the Qur'an in conversation with one another. This book will serve as a fine guide for those interested in exploring the shared scriptural heritage of Jews, Christians, and Muslims and its implications for the future."--John Kaltner, Rhodes College

Many of the Bible's characters and stories are also found in the Qur'an, but there are often different details or new twists in the Islamic retelling of biblical narrative. In Claiming Abraham, seasoned theologian Michael Lodahl explores these fascinating divergences to discover the theological difference they make.

Writing from a Christian perspective that is respectful of the Islamic tradition, Lodahl encourages readers to reflect on the real and appreciable differences among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. He contends that exploring the distinct trajectories created by the different tellings of biblical stories gives readers a deeper appreciation for each faith's reading of Scripture. To this end, Claiming Abraham compares and contrasts how the Bible and the Qur'an depict and treat certain characters in common to both religions, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Lodahl provides extended theological reflection on doctrines held in common by Christians and Muslims, such as creation, revelation, and the resurrection of the body. He also explores rabbinic writings as an important source for understanding the Qur'an and accentuates the critical role of interpretive communities in the making of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.

Claiming Abraham offers an accessible introduction to Muslim theology and to the Qur'an's leading themes, providing readers with a fuller understanding of Islam. It will benefit professors and students in theology, comparative religion, intercultural studies, and Islam courses as well as thoughtful lay readers and pastors.


"Scholars will find this book brimming with comparative/interreligious and exegetical/intertextual insights from the Tanakh, New Testament, Qur'an, and their commentary traditions. For all other readers, including those wondering if it is possible to acknowledge the revelatory status of the Qur'an while remaining committed to faith in Christ, Claiming Abraham accessibly engages the theological matters at stake in ways that, if taken seriously, will both deeply inform Christian faith in a pluralistic world and transform the next generation of Christian-Muslim relations."--Amos Yong, J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology, Regent University School of Divinity

"Claiming Abraham offers readers an introduction to the relationship between the Bible and the Qur'an that is both easy to understand and rich in detail. In his presentation of the narratives and themes that are shared in the two scriptures, Michael Lodahl demonstrates a remarkable familiarity with the distinctive religious systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Most impressively, he avoids clichés and superficial assumptions by illustrating how these religious traditions are more often in disagreement than in agreement over figures such as Adam, Abraham, and Jesus. Ultimately, Lodahl presents an account of these matters that is marked by candor, clarity, and a firm grounding in Christian theology."--Gabriel Said Reynolds, associate professor of Islamic studies and theology, University of Notre Dame

"In a novel approach to interreligious dialogue, Michael Lodahl puts the Bible and the Qur'an in conversation with one another. The result is a fascinating study that shows how the two scriptures often draw upon and reshape the same pool of traditions. In the process, he raises important questions about the relationships among the monotheistic faiths by pointing out their similarities without ignoring or downplaying their differences. This book will serve as a fine guide for those interested in exploring the shared scriptural heritage of Jews, Christians, and Muslims and its implications for the future."--John Kaltner, Virginia Ballou McGehee Professor of Muslim-Christian Relations, Rhodes College

"Claiming Abraham is a most surprising, inviting, challenging, and important book. Lodahl reads the Qur'an alongside the Bible he professes and the rabbinic commentary he admires. He reads for the sake of fellow Christians, for whom he opens the Qur'an as an Abrahamic scripture worthy of study and appreciation. He also reads for the sake of Muslim peers, whom he honors by engaging Qur'anic theology so deeply, and whom he challenges by drawing Muslim theologies into direct dialogue with his own Christian theology. He reads, finally, for the sake of Jewish peers as well: reading midrash alongside Qur'an so that, through the pages of this lovingly crafted book, all Abrahamic believers are invited to feast together on God's word."--Peter Ochs, Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, University of Virginia

"Claiming Abraham is a lively and succinct theological presentation of religious traditions from the point of view of their own exponents. Lodahl is sympathetic, patient, interested, and engaged, and so offers the reader the considerable assets of personal sensitivity along with a clear exposition of ideas and concepts. I can only hope that his style of theological inquiry will not only advance interfaith understanding but will move theology itself from its deep Western domestication. I welcome Claiming Abraham as a work of acute reflection that combines integrity with charitableness."--Lamin Sanneh, professor of world Christianity, Yale Divinity School; director, World Christianity Initiative at Yale

"Claiming Abraham has recourse to a fine repertoire of skills in reading scripture and in theological interpretation, to lead us on a journey of discovery of the similarity-in-difference that characterizes the ways Christianity and Islam can be seen to relate to one another. 'Similarity-in-difference' is the key, for each will prove illuminating in understanding the other. . . . Our conversation does indeed go on . . . and the better so in the wake of careful comparative studies like this one."--David Burrell, CSC, professor of ethics and development, Uganda Martyrs University

The Author

  1. Michael Lodahl

    Michael Lodahl

    Michael Lodahl (PhD, Emory University) is professor of theology at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, and has studied extensively in Israel and Jordan. He is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene and has served congregations in...

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"Michael Lodahl's new book . . . is simply an exciting read! His theological interpretation of these sacred texts should help Christians and Muslims identify their theological similarities and differences. While a significant amount of historical and cultural research informs the book, Michael's greatest insights--and the thrust of the book itself--are theological. . . . Lodahl masterfully presents differing Jewish, Christian, and Muslim trajectories of interpretation in the chapters of the book."--Thomas Jay Oord,

"[Lodahl's] concern is to examine the theological assumptions that animate the text of the three 'Abrahamic faiths.' Behind the commonality of personages lurk real differences of conception and portrayal. . . . Lodahl's simply written book is a must read for all."--James Chukwuma Okoye, CSSp, The Bible Today

"Lodahl is an excellent writer and engaging scholar who is focusing on challenging, prescient issues in this book. . . . All in all, I found this to be the best book on this subject that I have read by a contemporary Christian scholar. I heartily recommend it for a number of reasons. The claim that Muslims do not actually reference the Bible when calling Christians the 'People of the Book' was most welcome, as was the assertion that Jews, Christians, and Muslims are not all 'Children of Abraham' any more than we are all children of Adam or Moses. Most of all, Lodahl is correct in stating that distinct views about God's transcendent nature make any textual discussions fraught with potential for misunderstanding. Once Jews, Christians, and Muslims--in mutual respect--take the initiative in framing our respective texts within their larger hermeneutical and theological contexts, then we will find that discordant assumptions and generalized misconceptions more easily fall to the wayside. Thank you, Dr. Lodahl!"--Christian Van Gorder, Religious Studies Review

"By the time readers reach [the final] page . . . they have insights into how to read the Qur'ān in the light of Muslim sensibilities, Christian theology, and Jewish mishnah and midrash. . . . Lodahl's presentation of Jewish midrash and Christian theology illuminate his side-by-side readings of biblical and qur'ānic quotations. The selections tend to emphasize narrative points with theological implications and may be best welcomed by academic practitioners. . . . It will be invaluable for educators or facilitators endeavoring to provide non-Muslims with keys to understanding the Qur'ān, a crucial need for our times."--Seth Ward, Journal of Ecumenical Studies

"Lodahl's work illuminates the Qur'an in a way that allows the Christian reader to grasp both the details and the spirit of Islam's most holy book. The book is firmly aimed at Christians who have little knowledge of the Qur'an and comparative religions. The strong point of the book is that while Lodahl's theology is firmly rooted in his Christian beliefs, he does a great service to Muslim-Christian understanding by taking the Qur'an seriously rather than using it as a foil for his theological argument. . . . An excellent 'beginner's guide' for Christians interested in the subject."--M. Byrne, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

"The title of Michael Lodahl's work is derived from his method of placing biblical and Quranic texts side by side for comparison and contrast. Without smoothing over the distinctiveness of either, Lodahl insightfully reads one text beside the other in order to encourage constructive conversation between modern faith adherents. . . . Lodahl is a theologian by training, and a great strength of this book is his exegesis. . . . Readers will find his effort to understand passages of the Bible and Qur'an in their original context intriguing and engaging. . . . I plan to use Lodahl's expositions of Christian theology in my own congregation. . . . Preachers and teachers, clergy and laity, will find Lodahl's lucid writing style easily accessible. Anyone can glean wisdom from his exegesis, not only for leading congregations in outside engagement with those of the Muslim faith, but also for strengthening the understanding of the Christian faith of those inside the parish."--Andrew Taylor-Troutman, Interpretation

"[Lodahl] begins his book with a question: 'How shall we Christians and Muslims speak with one another?' . . . The 'we' in his question is a bit of a giveaway; for it reveals his own stance, which is both academically rigorous, but also partisan: he writes his engaging--and, at times, witty--book as a Christian. . . . He reveals the most critical and significant differences between the two faiths, and also their common concerns. . . . His attention to detail is rewarded, as his sources throw light on each other. His bold and revealing conclusions make for an engaging encounter."--Lavinia Byrne, Church Times

"In addition to his engaging writing style, Lodahl's study exhibits several strengths. In particular, his ability to distinguish subtle difference between the faith traditions, which others gloss over as similarities, is helpful in a number of instances. Perhaps the greatest strength of Lodah's study is the manner in which he details the historical development of the Qur'an's composition. He demonstrates convincingly in particular passages the presence of clear dependence on the Bible, rabbinic tradition, and early Christian teaching in the Qur'an."--Cameron Jungels, Bulletin for Biblical Research