Monday, August 12, 2013


I suppose that's as good a term as any for the recent surge of interest in the topic.  Over on Vridar Neil gives a nice, and in my opinion more or less correct, discussion of Sandmel's majestic paper, see as well the interesting comment by J Quinton in the comments to that post.  As I noted both on Vridar and on Explouring Our Matrix, I'm of the rather firm belief that Parallelomania is the greatest paper ever written in Biblical Studies--Sandmel is so right about so many being so wrong.  So if you haven't read it in the past, you should definitely do so.

Over on It's All Random...Mostly the Shape offered his further thoughts on the term, where he too acknowledges that Sandmel did not intend the term to be an insult, but--like Neil--suggests that it is frequently used as such, a simple dismissive pejorative without any discussion of what the concerns are.  And they're both right on that point as well.  The Shape suggests that there is a millieu in Biblical Studies that prevents discussion of parallels being taken seriously, perhaps because of concerns regarding the texts' historicity.  He states that he'll be visiting that subject in a future post, particularly in comparison to literary criticism in Classics.  I very much look forward to the comparison.

He could be correct in his assessment.  Presumably if we knew everything that biased our appraisals we would take care of it, but there are always going to be overarching concerns that frame the nature of our inquiry--of any inquiry, really.  We work, to a large degree, within a shared paradigm.  Perhaps the paradigm is wrong, or predisposed to reject given conclusions without due consideration?

He also mentions my observation that internet forums tend to produce a more aggressive rhetorical style, which I've mused on a bit the last week or so.  I think in particular of fora like the FRDB or Reddit, where both the rapid speed and audience promote a more combative style, but it holds for blogs too (just ask James McGrath, Joel Watts or Neil Godfrey!).  There really is an art to the right balance of polemic and argument, which I've never been able to master.  Ian Hutchesson is probably the best example of someone who does it very well.  I've never been able to strike it quite right, and frequently (as is the case with my last post on Parallelomania) come off significantly more combative than I intend.  Usually I catch it before I hit "Publish," and soften the tone.

Finally, please, whatever you do, don't follow The Shape in considering this an academic blog!  I'm a guy who reads too much on a narrow range of subjects that I scarcely understand who spouts whatever no doubt incorrect opinion occurs to him.  No academics here, I promise you!


The Shape said...

My apologies. I didn't mean that your blog was an academic blog, but rather that we were discussing academic matters.

This is turning into a minefield!

Rick Sumner said...

No mines here! And no apology needed, I promise my tongue was planted firmly in cheek. This blog was borne out of Jim West's railing against amateurs having the audacity to comment on Biblical Studies, hence the name. So my non-academic status is kind of a running joke (or at least it is in my mind, could be that nobody else gets it).

The Shape said...

I completely understand your frustration. I think amateurs can offer valuable insight because they have been spared the 'indoctrination' that third level institutes can impose.

Outside biblical studies my hobby is Irish archaeology and I run an amateur site about it. I've encountered professional archaeologists who have certainly been very condescending towards me because of my lack of professional status.