I'm currently embarking on a reading of the Digha Nikaya, so I thought it timely to ask a question based on something I once heard (sorry I can't recall the source).
I've heard it said that as a general rule, the longer the sutta, the less likely it is, that the sutta is an historically accurate sutta.
Reasons for this include:
* Increased likelihood of it being cobbled together from various disparate sources
* Increased likelihood of additional details being added posthumously by those who never met the Buddha
* Suttas started out shorter, and over time expanded in length (compare the length of the average Samyutta Nikaya sutta to that of a Mahayana Sutra for example)
Do you think this is an accurate rule-of-thumb (if so, how accurate?) or are there other rules-of-thumb which provide a better pointer as to the accuracy of suttas and their legitimacy as artefacts that genuinely reflect the word of Buddha?
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh
"Whether I were to preach in brief, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach in detail, Sāriputta, or whether I were to preach both in brief or in detail, Sāriputta, rare are those who understand." (A I 333, Sāriputtasutta)