Mythicism and Parallelomania around the Blogosphere

Mythicism and Parallelomania around the Blogosphere August 3, 2013

My recent use of the term “parallelomania” (popularized by Samuel Sandmel) has sparked some discussion in the blogosphere. It’s All Random…Mostly expressed dislike for the term. Ian then responded, writing:

I have some sympathy for just using the term ‘parallelomania’ as a term of skepticism. To say, yes it is fine to find parallels, but as long as you’ve only shown the parallels, you’re only relying on a kind of probabilistic innuendo to make your point: you have neither analysed the false positives nor the false negatives.

On the way our brains process data and patterns, see also some astronomy images shared by Phil Plait.

John Loftus highlighted a couple of mythicist publications, including Robert Price’s ebook, The Historical Bejeezus. And Pete Enns mentioned a book about prophecy, fulfillment, and the stories about Jesus’ birth.

What do others think? Surely some claims about parallels deserve the label “parallelomania,” don’t you think? If you haven’t read Sandmel’s article, have a read of it and see what you think.

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  • My rant yesterday was a little over zealous. My dislike stemsfrom one of my readers in my doctoral defence saying my work was riddled with parallelomania – but I’m now learning that as a student of Brodie’s I should just get used to that (for the record I’m not a mythicist).

    It depends on how the term is used. The above quote from Ian seems perfectly rational to me. I do, however, feel that as a discipline we tend to shy away from connections between the texts and I think that (sometimes!) it is because of a desire to maintain some form of historicity of the texts because of the religious stance of the proponent. Terms like parallelomania, depending on how it is used, are not helpful as it can deter someone from putting something forward for fear of being labelled.

    I think we have a lot to learn from Classical studies on this issue.

    • Oh, YOU are “All Random” — I’d love more in your “about” section.

  • Parallelomania is the single greatest paper ever published in Biblical Studies. I truly believe that to be true.

  • I had to agree with “Its All Random”‘s objection to your term here:

    Who is that guy, btw?