Blogging my Book: Day 3 – Avoiding Parallelomania

I encountered the term parallelomania, as I recall, in a French book of about 1830, whose title and author I have forgotten, in a context in which there were being examined certain passages in the Pauline epistles and in the Book of Wisdom that seem to have some resemblance, and a consequent view that when Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans [datable to the late 50s ce], a copy of the Book of Wisdom [i.e., the Wisdom of Solomon, usually ascribed to a Jewish author whose transparent hatred of Egyptians makes sense in the context of the grievous mistreatment of Alexandrian Jewry under A. Avillius Flaccus in the late 30s ce; Flaccus got to taste his own medicine, for he was executed in turn] lay open before him, and that Paul in Romans copied generously from it. Three items are to be noted. One, that some passages are allegedly parallel; two, that a direct organic literary connection is assumed to have provided the parallels; and three, that the conclusion is drawn that the flow is in a particular direction, namely, from Wisdom to Paul, and not from Paul to Wisdom. Our French author disputes all three points: he denies that the passages cited are true parallels; he denies that a direct literary connection exists; he denies that Paul copied directly from Wisdom, and he calls the citations and the inferences parallelomania. We might for our purposes define parallelomania as that extravagance among scholars which first overdoes the supposed similarity in passages and then proceeds to describe source and derivation as if implying literary connection flowing in an inevitable or predetermined direction.

via Parallelomania in Biblical Studies – Ancient Hebrew Poetry.

That is from a speech given by Dr. Samuel Sandmel.

One of the things in my book which I will work to try to avoid is making connections which aren’t there. I believe that Dr. Winn has established a magnificent set of core criteria, which I will be adding to just one degree.

For example… Twelve Caesars and Twelve Apostles… based only on the number.

For connections to be made – there has to be more to it…

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Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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