One major element of verse 2:106, and a major cause for the give-and-take in interpreting it, is its use of heteronyms. Scholars had differing opinions on how to understand a heteronym: confine it to one of its meanings, or accept all of its meanings.
Hasaballah, in his book أصول التشريع الإسلامي, pages 217-220 defines a heteronym and mentions what the scholars said about interpreting it:
- The Hanafis and some Shaafi`is said that a heteronym cannot be used in all of its meanings because each meaning is specific. If a heteronym is used in eloquent speech, then some evidence must accompany it in order to clear its ambiguity. Otherwise, the speech would lead to misunderstanding and won't be so eloquent after all. A scholar, therefore, will have to fetch an evidence if such evidence does not accompany the heteronym.
- Majority of the Shaafi`is, Judge Al-Baqillaani and some Mu`tazila opined that if a defining evidence is not available then a heteronym must be taken with all of its meanings. As an example, Hasaballah mentions,
The word حُرُم can mean "have entered the Sacrosanct Mosque area" or "wearing Ihraam clothes (during pilgrimage or ritual visit)". Both meanings are meant in this verse. Neither person may hunt in this case.
This discussion is helpful in interpreting verse 2:106. Both ننسخ
are heteronyms. Pro-abrogation scholars have insisted that both have only one meaning each, namely "abrogate" and "a verse in the Quran." But none of them have come up with a definitive proof of such limitation. The narrations they rely on which explain the circumstances of revelation of 2:106 (or 16:101) are inauthentic.
IMHO, all of the meanings of both words were meant by God in 2:106. God can, if and when He wills, abrogate a verse of the Quran, or a prior scripture or law, or remove a sign, etc. The question is: Did He? If neither He nor his Messenger have told us then there's no way to find out!