Parallelomania

When I was in seminary, this exact mindset toward the Bible was unquestioned, and utterly assumed in most of our classroom lectures. The more I reflect on parallelomania, the more I see it in this light: men do not like to find God speaking directly and clearly to them, for His voice is frightening to our sinful ears. We try to find every way to tone Him down, to put a sock in His mouth, and to explain away the clear teachings of Scripture. Many times, the higher the IQ, the more successful the scholar can be at muting the Word of God.

Green Baggins

It is quite the fashion these days in scholarly circles to find parallels between biblical texts and either Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) texts, for the Old Testament, or Greco-Roman texts, for the New Testament. Very confident pronouncements are then made about organic literary connections, even determining the direction of dependence. Samuel Sandmel, a rabbinic scholar, warned against extravagances in this direction in his address to the Society for Biblical Literature in the early 1960’s. The article was published in JBL 81.1 (1962), 1-13.

It is quite difficult to prove literary dependence. Similarity of verbiage does not prove literary relationship. Even if it did prove it, it does not prove the direction of literary dependence. Not even the relative age of manuscripts can prove literary dependence. What happens in the vast majority of biblical scholarship is that the foreign influence is always deemed to be prior, and the biblical text late…

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