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  Noah's Other Son: Bridging the Gap Between the Bible and the Qur'an
  Issue: 67   Page No: 28   Updated: 12/27/2010 10:00 AM
Author:  Darold H. Morgan , Brian Arthur Brown
Topics: 
Type:  Book Review
 

Book Reviewed by Darold Morgan,
Richardson, TX

Noah’s Other Son: Bridging the Gap Between the Bible and the Qur’an
Brian Arthur Brown,
New York: Continuum, 2007, $22.

A lthough the title may sound strange, the sub-title of this well written book explains that the subject is the Christian Bible and how it relates to the holy book of Islam, the Qur’an.

A gifted Canadian clergyman has almost made a holy quest of how can Christians, Jews, and Islamists come together for some kind of rapport and understanding. The point is quickly and pungently made that a zealously sincere effort in this direction is desperately needed!

The author makes much of the theological and historical fact that half of the world’s population consists of “the children of Abraham.” There are approximately 15 million Jews in the world, over two billion Christians, and over a billion Moslems. Add these numbers and one has one-half of the world’s population. These statistics lead quickly to the conclusion that many of problems facing the world today are rooted in these peoples—world-wide terrorism, war in Iraq, the unsolved issues between Israel and Palestine, Middle East oil supplies controlled by Islamic governments, the immigration of Islamic peoples into European and American cities—these are some of the major challenges facing the world today.

This volume will raise the hackles of each of these monotheistic groups. Jews will be disturbed by the author’s blunt assessment of some of Israel’s policies toward Palestine. Some evangelical Christians will react vigorously against the post-modernism critiques of historical Christianity. Many Moslems will question severely the author’s repeated quotations from Salmon Rushdie (the Islamic author whose controversial novel led to an Iranian cleric condemning him with a “fatwa,” a death sentence for blasphemy against Mohammed).

One of the most helpful segments of this book is the author’s explanation of Rushdie’s volume. Out of this comes Rushdie’s appeal for a fullorbed critical analysis of the Qur’an, something that has never occurred.

Moving quickly past the negatives, the earnest reader will discover a veritable gold mine of information, particularly from the author’s approach to the similarities and differences between the Bible and the Quar’an. This will perhaps astonish Christians and Islamists alike. The structure of the book is “around twenty-five familiar biblical figures whose teachings also appear in the Quar’an” (p14). Much of this information will prove to be fascinating reading for many Christians who perhaps were unaware that the Islamic Holy Book contains major amounts of material which often read like the King James Version of the Bible. Much of the fascination and frustration for Christians will come when major differences, both historical and theological surface.

Yet throughout this genuinely original book is the author’s hope that some common ground for mutual understanding between these hostile groups will coalesce. It is obvious that the author’s Canadian United Church has been a leader in this quest and is in some measure a genuine guide to others who sense the compelling demands for a mutual development toward religious compromise. Islamic leaders in Canada have signaled a willingness for dialogue with Jews and Christians. Perhaps this book could serve as a catalyst for similar moves elsewhere.

That the Qur’an is structurally different from the Bible is apparent. Any sense of chronology, an important part of the Bible, is missing in the Islamic Holy Book, and as such it makes comparisons hard. Here is where this author does all a great service. He manages quite effectively to present refreshingly rich and candid presentations about dozens of Bible events and their reinterpretations in the Qur’an. Christians and Jews alike need to know these facts, despite the Islamic contention that their approach is the correct one. How to get to some degree of mutual acceptance and understanding is not a small task!

Christians need to know that Moslems believe in Adam and Eve, the biblical patriarchs and the Tower of Babel. Above all, Abraham (Ibrahim) is a towering figure in Islamic theology. Hagar and Ishmael are the important characters, not Sarai and Isaac. David, Moses, and all the prophets are part of the Islamic story. Move to the New Testament and Mary, the mother of Jesus, is given honor and status. So is Jesus (Isa) as one of the greatest of the prophets. Christians will be surprised to learn that it is Judas who is crucified, not Jesus of Nazareth. It is information like this that makes this book not only interesting but of exceptional value for dialoguing with Islamic people today. Naturally, this must be a two-way street, but the dialogue is essential in today’s world.

The author closes his book by stating: “The purpose of his book has been merely to present again the stories of familiar characters in the Bible who also appear in the Qur’an, as a way to become more familiar with the things these three traditions have in common” (p 232). He succeeds in this goal, adding the peculiar twist that somehow the disaster of Noah’s other son who missed the ark (the Qur’an’s interesting addition to that story), is an act brought on by youthful rebellion and misunderstanding need not happen in these perilous times. Christian ethicists and Christian apologists must not ignore this book. 

  Cite This Page:
Morgan, Darold H. , Brown, Brian Arthur. "Noah`s Other Son: Bridging the Gap Between the Bible and the Qur`an" ChristianEthicsToday.
The Christian Ethics Today Foundation. Christmas 2007 (Issue 67 Page 28)
<http://christianethicstoday.com/cetart/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.main&ArtID=1345>
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