About higher critisism and common sense

…scholars sometimes run riot in their dissection of these books, until they seem to reduce them to a mass of small fragments huddled together by an unintelligent editor. Fortunately these efforts of criticism largely cancel out, since no two scholars agree in the details of their dissections. The fault found in nearly all of them, however, is to ignored common sense in matters of literary production. The prevalent critical method would appear to require that a prophet’s utterances were circulated in a number of small leaflets, often of only a few verses, and that these were brought together at haphazard, and subsequently worked over by a succession of editors during a period of centuries, with additions of their own, and that all of these editors and manipulators succeeded in passing off the constantly changing result as the work of the prophet who had produced the original core. And this, it is apparently claimed, was the fate not of one prophet, but of all. Each editor seems to make it a point of honour to dissect his author into a number of different component parts of I different date; but none of them ever seems to take the I trouble to think out a process of publication and circulation which would make such an explanation humanly probable, or would explain why there were not rival editions of the several prophets in circulation, reflecting different stages in the process of accretion and rehandling. The higher criticism should be made bibliographically probable, and conformable to common sense and human nature.

Sir Frederic Kenyon, The Bible and archaeology, pp. 24, 25.


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