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Archaeological discoveries since the 19th century are open to interpretation, but largely do not lend historical support for the Old Testament's narratives as history and offer evidence to challenge some stories.
The Bible exists in multiple manuscripts, none of them an autograph, and multiple canons, which do not completely agree on which books have sufficient authority to be included or their order (see Books of the Bible).
Herodotus; the consequence of these discussions is not that we shall have to stop using ancient sources for historical reconstruction, but that we need to be aware of the problems involved when doing so.
When examining the books of the Bible, scholars examine the historical context of passages, the importance ascribed to events by the authors, and the contrast between the descriptions of these events and other historical evidence.He had earlier been effectively excommunicated by the rabbinical council of Amsterdam for his perceived heresies.The French priest Richard Simon brought these critical perspectives to the Catholic tradition in 1678, observing "the most part of the Holy Scriptures that are come to us, are but Abridgments and as Summaries of ancient Acts which were kept in the Registries of the Hebrews," in what was probably the first work of biblical textual criticism in the modern sense.By the end of the 19th century the scholarly consensus was that the Pentateuch was the work of many authors writing from 1000 BCE (the time of David) to 500 BCE (the time of Ezra) and redacted c.450, and as a consequence whatever history it contained was more often polemical than strictly factual – a conclusion reinforced by the then fresh scientific refutations of what were at the time widely classed as biblical mythologies.
Multiple copies may also be grouped into text types (see New Testament text types), with some types judged closer to the hypothetical original than others.