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Redaction is a form of editing in which multiple source texts are combined (redacted) and altered slightly to make a single document, and often a method of collecting a series of writings on a similar theme and creating a definitive and coherent work.
Occasionally, persons performing the redaction (the redactors) add brief elements of their own. The reasons are varied and can include addition of elements to adjust the underlying conclusions of the text to suit the redactor's opinion, adding bridging elements to integrate disparate stories.
Sometimes the source texts are interlaced, particularly when discussing closely related details, things, or people. This is common when source texts contain alternative versions of the same story, and slight alterations are often made in this circumstance, simply to make the texts appear to agree, and thus the resulting redacted text appears to be coherent. Such a situation is proposed by the documentary hypothesis, which proposes that multiple redactions occurred during the creation of the Torah, often combining together texts which have different political attitudes and aims; another example is the Talmud.
Redactional processes are documented in numerous disciplines, including ancient literary works and biblical studies. Much has been written on the role of redaction in creating meaning for texts in various formats.
Redaction is simply the process of removing text or images from a document. This process is sometimes called document sanitization. Governments and businesses use document redaction services to remove private information that might be used for identity theft from electronic documents when they are published.
- For example, in the field of biblical studies, see John Barton, Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 5: 644–647; or Odil Hannes Steck, Old Testament Exegesis, 2nd edition (Atlanta: Scholars Press), 74–93.