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The reader has to understand two things:
First, the word translated "then" is the Arabic word "thumma". It can be rendered "Moreover/Furthermore". Jochen shows this in his web page disputing the number of days of creation. I mention it again in my response to that page. It is also true that "thumma" can be rendered "then" (as in a subsequent "and").
Second, the Arabic word for "he turned" can be rendered as "he turned", " he has turned", or "he had turned". The implication being a past action has occured. See "Written Arabic - An Approach to the Basic Structures" by A.F.L. Beeston (cost about $25.00), Chapter 3, note 22.
So what does this mean with respect to the verses quoted by Jochen?
It means that Surah 2:29 may be read as follows:
He it is Who created for you all that is on the Earth. Furthermore, he had turned to the heaven and had made them into seven heavens.
That is an acceptable translation of the Arabic and it does not conflict with Surah 79:27-30. In fact if we assume it "thumma" means "then", the sentance could potentially be awkward. (i.e. "...then he had turned...")
So which is the most accurate rendering? I assume there is no contradiction in the Qur'an and so if I can find a legitimate context that renders all the data coherent, I accept that as a proof that contradiction has not been proven. I don't think anyone can claim "contradiction" on anything unless there is no alternative explanation which legitimately explains why a proposed contradiction is not a contradiction.
Continuing, if you look at Jochen's page on the number of days of creation you will see that my response to that supports my argument here. Then look at my response to Jochens page on the heavens and earth ripping apart (if my respoonse has been posted - as I write this I'm not sure if it has), you will further see that the whole creation story is cohesive when we take all the data into account. I will grant the reader that this exchange between Jochen and I may be disjointed and a bit confusing, but please, take all the information into account. To say it is contradictory or confusing is not taking into consideration that translations may be the point of confusion and not the Qur'an.
If these are the kinds of things Jochen has encountered from Muslims attacking a the Bible, his feelings reflected in his purpose statement are understandable. Although I do question his intent and methods for venting these feelings. It seems questions about these "contradictions" should be asked before accusations ensue (or appending "...more to come..." on the webpage - that is a bit presumptuous).
Now, having said all that, I came up with some guide lines we can apply to any book to prove/disprove contradictions. Let me know if you think it is fair.
Is there ever a context for which the proposed contradictory statements are not contradictory?
If it seems that the statements are still contradictory, ask the following:
Have I made any unverified assumptions?
Have I considered all possible definitions of the words?
Have I considered all possible translations of the words?
Have I considered all grammatical syntatic definitions/renderings?
Do you agree that if we answer NO to the first two questions and YES to the last three questions, then we would seem to have a contradiction?
So if, after considering all of the above information, we still have a contradiction, then we can conclude that there is a problem. (Note: this is addressing internal contradictions of a document, I have not thought whether this is also a relevant guideline for external contradictions). Not being scholars in the matters, we could then even consult scholars in the matters and see what they have to say. If after all this there is still a problem. So be it.
Let me also point out that proving contradictions is much harder than disproving them. So, working with the assumption that there is none and conclusively proving a contradiction is a much more credible approach than vice-versa. Now I hope that we can apply these ideas to both the Qur'an and Bible. That is the most fair and I hope it addresses Jochen's concern regarding Muslims which have made attacks on the Bible. We are not in the business of slandering other religions, we are in the business of seeking knowledge and sharing it.
Well, that is my opinion. Is it agreeable? God knows best.
Send your comments.
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