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In this he called attention to the double narratives and variation of style in the Pentateuch, and thence deduced that, aside from the legal portion, which Moses himself had written down, much of the remaining matter was the work of several inspired annalists, a class to whom are due the later historical books, and who in subsequent generations added touches to the inspired histories by their predecessors.
This theory did not survive its author, but the use of internal evidence by which Simon arrived at it entitles him to be called the father of Biblical criticism.
It was not a Humanist, but the erratic Reformer Carlstadt, who first broke with tradition on the authorship of an inspired book by declaring that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch, because the account of his death is in the same style as the rest of his book.
But though Carlstadt adduced a critical argument he cannot be styled a critic.
Their attention was concentrated on the Divine content and authority of sacred Scripture, and, looking almost exclusively at the Divine side, they deemed as of trifling account questions of authorship, date, composition, accepting unreservedly for these points such traditions as the Jewish Church had handed down, all the more readily that Christ Himself seemed to have given various of these traditions His supreme confirmation.Simon is the forerunner of modern Biblical criticism.The broadening opportunities for the study of Oriental languages, a keen and methodical mind, probably, too, a reaction against the rigid view of the Bible which reigned amongst both Catholics and Protestants of the age were the factors which produced Simon's first great work, the "Histoire critique du Vieux Testament's, which was published in 1678.A fundamental one is that a literary work always betrays the imprint of the age and environment in which it was produced; another is that a plurality of authors is proved by well-marked differences of diction and style, at least when these coincide with distinctions in view-point or discrepancies in a double treatment of the same subject.A third received canon holds to a radical dissimilarity between ancient Semitic and modern Occidental, or Aryan, methods of composition.