As a general literary principle, it is not possible to take a finished text and reconstruct sources that otherwise have never been seen – sources that are hypothetical. What is possible, though often difficult, is to identify a known text as one of the sources of another known text. Ancient writing consisted largely of rewriting, so the use of written sources was normal, and quite often both a text and some of its sources still exist. Modes of rewriting varied hugely, for instance: Midrash, Synthesis and transformation; Rewritten Bible; Rewritten Prophecy (the Pesharim); Rewritten Epic; and Imitation (mimesis). Criteria of dependence are external plausibility; significant similarities; the intelligibility of the differences.
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