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Sign, Analogy, And The Via Negativa: Approaching The Transcendent God Of The Qurʾan

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Chapter Summary

Amid all the similarities between the Qurʾan, the New Testament, and the Hebrew Bible, the first-time reader may miss a significant difference in the rhetorical structure of the Qurʾan. The very existence of the Qur'an, which Muslims understand to be the actual speech of God, indicates an epistemological dilemma central to the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths. The Qurʾan as a whole is, of course, a sign of God, as are the scriptures brought by the earlier prophets. Humans on their own cannot understand the scope and depth of the wonders of creation as God knows them, and so the Qurʾan uses the evidence of signs as terms of comparison and analogy. Virtually every religious tradition has faced the difficulties inherent in analogy and metaphor by systematic denial, a method long known in the West as the via negative.

Keywords: God; Hebrew Bible; New Testament; Qurʾan



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