If, on the other hand, the document is clearly dependent on another document that can be dated on independent grounds, the date of the earlier document provides a (earlier limiting point in time).
Proven dependence on such an earlier document may also throw light on the structure of the work being studied.
Biblical exegesis is the actual interpretation of the sacred book, the bringing out of its meaning; hermeneutics is the study and establishment of the principles by which it is to be interpreted.
Where the biblical writings are interpreted on a historical perspective, just as with philological and other ancient documents, there is little call for a special discipline of biblical hermeneutics.
But much of the evidence for the history of its structure is internal.
The evaluation of such evidence is the province of what used to be called the higher criticism, a term first employed with a biblical reference by the German biblical scholar and orientalist I have been obliged to bestow the greatest amount of labour on a hitherto entirely unworked field, the investigation of the inner constitution of the separate books of the Old Testament by the aid of the higher criticism (a new name to no humanist).
discovering the truths and values of the Old and New Testaments by means of various techniques and principles, though very often, owing to the exigencies of certain historical conditions, polemical or apologetical situations anticipate the truth or value to be discovered and thus dictate the type of exegesis or hermeneutic to be used.
The primary goal, however, is to arrive at biblical truths and values by an unbiassed use of exegesis and hermeneutics.
The development of some Old Testament books is indicated expressly in their contents: one can note the composition of the first and second editions of the Book of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 36:4, 32; and scholars can reach some conclusions about later editions by a comparison of the longer edition in the Masoretic text with the shorter edition in the Septuagint (now also attested in a fragmentary Hebrew text from Qumrān).
In the absence of such explicit evidence, conclusions about the structure of other prophetic books, such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, must be more tentative.
It may be of interest to know that the Hebrew word for “burnt offering” (“ascend”), and to trace the stages by which it attained its biblical meaning, but this knowledge is almost wholly irrelevant to the understanding of the word in the Old Testament ritual vocabulary, and any attempt to link it, say, with the ascension of Jesus in the New Testament, as has been done, can lead only to confusion.