I realize this is a broad question and if you want to close it I understand entirely but I can't think of a better place to ask.

From my own reading, I believe there are statistical methods which can be applied to give a text a "fingerprint"--frequency of certain words in the text, consistent misspellings of some words and things of that nature, I'd guess. It seems this "fingerprint" can be used to help to identify probable authorship--two texts which have very similar fingerprints are more likely to have been written by the same author. If I wanted to get an introduction to the subject:

1.) What's the proper name for such a field of study? (I ask this so I'll know what I should be searching for at libraries and such.)

2.) Could anyone recommend an introductory (think 1st year college) text on the subject?

As I say, I know this is a broad question but I can't think of a better way to ask it. Feel free to edit mercilessly.

By the way, I don't think I've tagged this question correctly either but since I'm not sure of the proper terminology, I'm unsure how to tag it.

  • This could be a very helpful question, but as it is, it's too broad (which you already realize, I know!). Have a look at a previous Q&A on "genre" identfication and see if that helps. The best thing to do here (IMO!) would be to pick a text in the "genre", or of the "kind", that you are interested in at the moment. It might be that there is good material focused on how to identify structures within that literary category. Does that help? I hope it does...!
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Nov 9, 2014 at 18:48
  • Thanks for taking the time to comment @David and thanks for the pointer to that other answer. Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 14:30
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1 Answer 1


This type of analysis is actually not a structural one, but a linguistic one. This field is referred to as Forensic Linguistics or Stylometry.

There is some dispute as to whether the accuracy of such endeavors is reliable enough to tell us much..

There are several books on the subject that you may find suitable including one Stylometric study of the New Testament.

The mark of a good commentary (while it typically doesn't provide a forensic analysis) will provide a good structural analysis. The Word Biblical Commentary series (for example) typically includes a Form/Structure/Setting section which will analyze the structure of the text and point out any chiasmus, parallelisms or other notable interests in the structural composition, formula and layout of the text with most authors providing a high-level overview of an entire book as well as closer looks at particular sections and pericopes.

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