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Islam holds a unique claim in comparative religion that its sacred scripture the Quran is not the fallible work of men writing their personal accounts of a long dead teacher but the infallible dictated word of God This essay will give an overview of modern scholars thoughts on the origin collection and development of the text We shall begin with Noldekes account of the chronology of the text and move to look at Bells and Wansbroughs ideas before examining other aspects of Quranic coherence Watts on Bells Translation Watts writes that of Western attempts at forming a chronology of the Quran the most important book by far was Theodor Noldekes Geschichte des Qorans Noldekes method was founded in traditional Muslim accounts of Quranic revelation and made use of early Muslim sources to construct a historical framework From this starting point he assumed progressive changes in style from exalted poetical passages in the early years to long prosaic deliverances later Noldeke can thus distinguish four separate periods in Quranic revelation The first Meccan period is distinguished by short suras and verses and rhymic visual language The second Meccan period illustrates the key theme of the text in nature and history The use of ar-Rahman The Merciful is used in reference to God In the third Meccan period the characteristics of the second period intensify ar-Rahman ceases to be used For Noldeke the Medinan period was not so much a change in style rather a change in theme concentrating on laws and practices of the early Muslim community In should be pointed out here that Noldekes order of suras is very similar to that used in the first Quran printed in Egypt by and for Muslims in 1925 differing only in the order of four suras Watts believes Noldekes chronology places too much emphasis on style and a presumption that stylistic changes are purely linear eg the verse length increases with time The main
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