Parallels or Parallelomania (Josephus and Mark) How can we tell the difference?

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,941
Rural Australia
To go back to parallelomania, there is a detail we should keep in mind: in case of parallels and similarities, we could even not exclude a will to copy something previous. In History there have been personages with a model in mind.
In antiquity anyone doing any copying would have gone to school, and if our reconstruction of antiquity is clear enough, at one stage would have studied the stories of Homer.

If we were to leave for a moment the parallels claimed by some people between Mark and Josephus, what if we examined the parallels claimed by MacDonald between Mark and Homer. It is not difficult to read through the parallels MacDonald finds, and while they appear quite reasonable, how can we tell whether the parallels were intentionally constructed by the author of Mark using Homer, or whether the parallels are being perceived as such, but are in reality coincidental?

Dennis R. MacDonald, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2000.09.16

How can we tell the difference between "Valid parallels" and those appearing as a result of "Parellelomania"?
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,034
Italy, Lago Maggiore
In antiquity anyone doing any copying would have gone to school, and if our reconstruction of antiquity is clear enough, at one stage would have studied the stories of Homer.

If we were to leave for a moment the parallels claimed by some people between Mark and Josephus, what if we examined the parallels claimed by MacDonald between Mark and Homer. It is not difficult to read through the parallels MacDonald finds, and while they appear quite reasonable, how can we tell whether the parallels were intentionally constructed by the author of Mark using Homer, or whether the parallels are being perceived as such, but are in reality coincidental?

Dennis R. MacDonald, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2000.09.16

How can we tell the difference between "Valid parallels" and those appearing as a result of "Parellelomania"?
Let's accept that it's probable that the author/s of the complete Gospel of Mark [and this came later, sure after the hypothesized "Source Q" which was probably well more short and poor of details] was in conditions to know the content of the work written by Josephus. Josephus was known around and even if in his age manuscripts were rare [and they didn't travel a lot, btw], we cannot absolutely exclude that an educated Roman citizen, or an educated wealthy Jew, was able at least to learn about what the Jewish author wrote.

So, let's go to the point.

If I think to semiotics [which deals with similar problems as well], I would apply a two level control.

The first level is about the content: is the reader creating some of the similarities or are they all real?
A typical example is just about the name "Jesus". It's not so odd that two persons in canaan in that period carried that name. It's like to see a parallel between two Italian personages carrying the name "Giovanni". You can find Jesus also in the Talmud [in the Aramaic form "Yeshu"]. Just to say. IT was a name used among religious figures, so even inventing "Jesus" was among the most obvious choices [parallel or not].

The second level is about the context. And there are three steps.
Step 1. Contextual confrontation.

When you read a text, to understand it in deep, you need to grasp and understand the context. Usually who makes parallels tend to see them in similar contexts. So that if in set A item 1 is similar to item 1 in Set B, we should wonder if also the contexts are similar. Sure if the contexts are not similar, that's a coincidence. Going back to "Jesus", we couldn't build a parallel between Jesus from Nazareth and a Jesus who lived producing cheese. In that case, the two different contexts tell us that the two names "Jesus" are not part of a parallel.

Step 2. Contextual evaluation.
What if the contexts are similar [or even identical]? We should wonder if the contexts themselves generate the similarities. That period was troubled and there were personages attacking the Roman authority, the local Jewish authorities who at the end collaborated with the Romans ... in the parallel we are considering, the points from 10 to 16 can be considered as generated by identical contexts [two "rebels", let's use this term].

Step 3. Synthesis.
If the context is different there's not parallel, if the context is identical there is parallel, but it could be generated by the contexts themselves. This almost sounds like a contradiction.
So we need a synthesis.

Valid items of a parallel are those items of the two sets that are similar in similar [or identical] contexts, without being generated by the context themselves.

This is the assumption I would follow [on the base of the considerations that semiotics suggests me]. Does it work? Sure it challenges a lot any potential parallel.
 
Nov 2016
1,017
Germany
I agree that history is not a science, but it can use science (and statistical mathematics) as an advisory reference
It makes no sense to restrict the concept of ´science´ to natural sciences, as you seemingly do. The term ´natural sciences´ alone shows that science is more than ´natural´ science, otherwise it won´t be necessary to specify ´natural science´ by the use of the adjective ´natural´.

So what is ´science´? Per definition science is every method of recognition, which aims at clearing the connection between material or mental or cultural phenomena by arranging them systematically and explaining them by use of logical and comprehensible argumentation. Mental and cultural phenomena require scientific research no less than material (physical, chemical and biological) phenomena.

To reduce the applicability of ´science´ exclusively to the research on material objects by way of technical methods is symptom of a purely materialistic worldview which shows characteristics of religious thinking which however venerates not ´God´ but matter as the highest being.

Moreover, physics, for example, is full of unsolved mysteries. There is no consens on the nature of ´matter´ and ´gravitation´ and ´time´ and ´space´, to name some examples. On the quantum level, particles are acting quite chaotic. They can even synchronously interact over huge distances what physicists cannot explain. So it´s absurd to consider natural sciences the only ´exact´ science and - therefore - the only science at all, what is seemingly your and Kotromanic´s view.

Moreover, even most natural scientists reject the most narrow view that only their fields are ´scientific´. What a chaos would be at the universities if all natural scientists would share your and Kotromanic´s view! There would prevail deep hostility between them and the representatives of the other fields of research.
 
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Nov 2016
1,017
Germany
If we were to leave for a moment the parallels claimed by some people between Mark and Josephus, what if we examined the parallels claimed by MacDonald between Mark and Homer
I think the question is not IF there are parallels between Mark and Josephus - in fact there are -, but if they are coincidental or consciously produced. A ´parallel´ is similar to an ´analogy´, i.e. the correspondence of several aspects of a thing or a statement or a fact. The said ´parallels´ are showing such correspondences, at least within the given context.

Let's accept that it's probable that the author/s of the complete Gospel of Mark [and this came later, sure after the hypothesized "Source Q" which was probably well more short and poor of details] was in conditions to know the content of the work written by Josephus. Josephus was known around and even if in his age manuscripts were rare [and they didn't travel a lot, btw], we cannot absolutely exclude that an educated Roman citizen, or an educated wealthy Jew, was able at least to learn about what the Jewish author wrote.
Not only Josephus´ text but also a then most probably well-known and popular oral narrative about Jesus ben Ananus could have been the source of a (hypothetical) imitation by the ´Mark´ author(s). Josephus himself had to draw from oral sources since he was in Rome, when that Jesus was allegedly rebelling in Jerusalem, and was in a Roman camp when that Jesus was allegedly killed by a Roman weapon.

IT was a name used among religious figures, so even inventing "Jesus" was among the most obvious choices [parallel or not].
Given the Markan Jesus is an invented figure (as the mythicists assume), the Joshua of the OT was most probably the reference figure from which the authors of the fiction took the name "Jeshua", since the religious functions of both figures are quite analogous.

Even Eusebius was aware of the analogy between both figures. In his Church History 1,3,37 ff he writes that Moses gave his general and successor (Joshua) the name "Joshua" as a distinction because he knew that this Joshua was prefiguring the later savior Jesus.

Going back to "Jesus", we couldn't build a parallel between Jesus from Nazareth and a Jesus who lived producing cheese. In that case, the two different contexts tell us that the two names "Jesus" are not part of a parallel.
True, since a name alone can´t be a parallel (or analogy = correspondence of several aspects), it´s just a correspondence of a single aspect. Carrier and Weeden however consider the occurrences of the name in Mark and in Josephus a parallel as they contextualize it with the other parallels.
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,034
Italy, Lago Maggiore
I think the question is not IF there are parallels between Mark and Josephus - in fact there are -, but if they are coincidental or consciously produced. A ´parallel´ is similar to an ´analogy´, i.e. the correspondence of several aspects of a thing or a statement or a fact. The said ´parallels´ are showing such correspondences, at least within the given context.



Not only Josephus´ text but also a then most probably well-known and popular oral narrative about Jesus ben Ananus could have been the source of a (hypothetical) imitation by the ´Mark´ author(s). Josephus himself had to draw from oral sources since he was in Rome, when that Jesus was allegedly rebelling in Jerusalem, and was in a Roman camp when that Jesus was allegedly killed by a Roman weapon.



Given the Markan Jesus is an invented figure (as the mythicists assume), the Joshua of the OT was most probably the reference figure from which the authors of the fiction took the name "Jeshua", since the religious functions of both figures are quite analogous.

Even Eusebius was aware of the analogy between both figures. In his Church History 1,3,37 ff he writes that Moses gave his general and successor (Joshua) the name "Joshua" (as a distinction) because he knew that this Joshua was prefiguring the later savior Jesus.



True, since a name alone can´t be a parallel (or analogy). Carrier and Weeden however consider the occurrences of the name in Mark and in Josephus a parallel as they contextualize it with the other parallels.
In my opinion this implies the risk to add not proper parallels to obtain [at the end] a parallel [supposed].

I go back to my formalism:

we've got two sets of items between which we underline similarities [a part that we are avoiding to underline differences as well ... we are doing half of the job. This is already not scientifically correct]. Our final purpose is to determine if the two sets are so similar to be allowed to say that there is a parallel between them.

To do this, actually, we should exclude the obvious items in parallel [like a common name] and those items which are "natural" of the contexts, not of the sets. The judiciary path of Jesus wasn't so exceptional for a Jew attacking the local Jewish authorities and [indirectly] the Roman authorities.

Anyway, first of all: which are the differences between the two figures?
 

Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
4,959
Iowa USA
It makes no sense to restrict the concept of ´science´ to natural sciences, as you seemingly do. The term ´natural sciences´ alone shows that science is more than ´natural´ science, otherwise it won´t be necessary to specify ´natural science´ by the use of the adjective ´natural´.

So what is ´science´? Per definition science is every method of recognition, which aims at clearing the connection between material or mental or cultural phenomena by arranging them systematically and explaining them by use of logical and comprehensible argumentation. Mental and cultural phenomena require scientific research no less than material (physical, chemical and biological) phenomena.

To reduce the applicability of ´science´ exclusively to the research on material objects by way of technical methods is symptom of a purely materialistic worldview which shows characteristics of religious thinking which however venerates not ´God´ but matter as the highest being.

Moreover, physics, for example, is full of unsolved mysteries. There is no consens on the nature of ´matter´ and ´gravitation´ and ´time´ and ´space´, to name some examples. On the quantum level, particles are acting quite chaotic. They can even synchronously interact over huge distances what physicists cannot explain. So it´s absurd to consider natural sciences the only ´exact´ science and - therefore - the only science at all, what is seemingly your and Kotromanic´s view.

Moreover, even most natural scientists reject the most narrow view that only their fields are ´scientific´. What a chaos would be at the universities if all natural scientists would share your and Kotromanic´s view! There would prevail deep hostility between them and the representatives of the other fields of research.
Rarely on this excellent forum have I read so much misinformation in one post. Your inability to understand QM indicates that you feel free to offer highly idiosyncratic opinions on matters in which it is possible to educate yourself with publicly available free information.

I have never been acquainted with this definition of science. After making my living for 26 plus years in applied science.

So, as I say, we have different points of view. But I don't intend to engage any further with you about science.
 
Nov 2016
1,017
Germany
Rarely on this excellent forum have I read so much misinformation in one post. Your inability to understand QM indicates that you feel free to offer highly idiosyncratic opinions on matters in which it is possible to educate yourself with publicly available free information
??????????

In my opinion this implies the risk to add not proper parallels to obtain [at the end] a parallel [supposed].(...) we've got two sets of items between which we underline similarities [a part that we are avoiding to underline differences as well ... we are doing half of the job. This is already not scientifically correct]. Our final purpose is to determine if the two sets are so similar to be allowed to say that there is a parallel between them.

To do this, actually, we should exclude the obvious items in parallel [like a common name] and those items which are "natural" of the contexts, not of the sets.
I miss a clear definition of ´parallel´ in all that, since your equation of "similarity" and "parallel" is not enough. As for my definition, I see no risk because it´s easily compatible with Carrier´s and Weeden´s view.

Well, in a previous post you obviously express the view that the occurrence of the same name in different stories is NOT a ´parallel´:

Going back to "Jesus", we couldn't build a parallel between Jesus from Nazareth and a Jesus who lived producing cheese.
However, in your last post you say:

we should exclude the obvious items in parallel [like a common name]

So, in one post you exclude the possibility of ´building´ a parallel between two figures with the same name , in another post you seem to suggest that a common name is a parallel ("items in parallel [like a common name] ")

Could you clarify that, please?

Now, I have provided in a previous post a definition of ´parallel´ by equating it with ´analogy´. An analogy is, as I said, the correspondence of several aspects of a thing or statement in another thing or statement or fact.

Example:

1)
Jesus of Nazareth has a mother. Jesus ben Ananus has a mother.

This is NO parallelism or analogy that makes sense in our context, since having a mother is no characteristic aspect of a human being, as well as having two eyes or a nose or two legs is no relevant aspect in our context.

(Given A has only one eye due to an accident and B has also only one eye for the same reason, this IS a parallelism because there are several corresponding aspects which are characteristic (accident, one eye lost). In case B lost his eye due to a criminal knife attack, this would be NO parallel to A but only a correspondence (one lost eye).)

2)
However, that Jesus of Nazareth rebels against the Jewish priesthood and Jesus ben Ananus also rebels against the Jewish priesthood IS a parallelism, because there are several common aspects that are characteristic (rebelling against priesthood).

However a parallelism would not be given with the statements:

Jesus of Nazareth rebelled.
Jesus ben Ananus rebelled.


since there is only one thing mentioned (rebelling) what isn´t enough for recognizing relevant parallels, for it might be possible that Jesus ben Ananus rebelled against his parents or someone else but not the priesthood, what would of course not be a relevant parallel to the rebelling of Jesus.

So please clarify what you understand by ´parallel´.
 
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Nov 2016
1,017
Germany
In my opinion this implies the risk to add not proper parallels to obtain [at the end] a parallel [supposed]
I think that every point mentioned by Carrier and Weeden matches my definition of ´parallel´(analogy = correspondence of several aspects), some of them implicitly, most of them explicitly.

I differentiate between ´ parallel´ (analogy = correspondence of several aspects) and ´correspondence´ in the simple sense (correspondence of 1 single aspect).

That both protagonists are called "Jesus" and that they are socially inferior, seems to suggest that points (1) and (2) in Carrier´s and Weeden´s list are no parallels but simple correspondences. However, these points already imply the information that both protagonists are rebels against the Jewish priesthood. So every reader of points (1) and (2) knows from the beginning that the common name refers to two different rebels against the Jewish priesthood, so that the real substance of both points is:

(1)
Both rebels against the Jewish priesthood (aspect 1) in the two stories are named "Jesus" (aspect 2)
=
(1) Both primary subjects of the two stories are named “Jesus” ( _J.W._, VI. 300; Mark, passim).

(2)
Both rebels against the Jewish priesthood (aspect 1) in the two stories are presented as social inferior (aspect 2)
=
(2) Jesus, son of Ananias, is depicted by Josephus as TWN IDIWTWN AGROIKOS (translated by Thackeray as “a rude peasant” (...) The Markan Jesus is identified by Mark as a TEKNWN (“carpenter,” 6:3). In other words, Mark considered Jesus to be an artisan (...)

Further examples which show clear parallelism/analogy:

(3) Both Jesus, the son of Ananias, ( _J.W._, VI. 301) and the Markan Jesus (Mk. 3:22) are presumed by Jerusalemite leaders to be demon-possessed.

= presumed by Jerusalemite leaders (1) to be demon-possessed (2)

(4) Both Jesuses are thought to be deranged by certain people. Jesus, son of Ananias, is dubbed MANIAN (“a maniac”) by Albinus, the Roman procurator (_J.W._, VI. 305), and the Markan Jesus is declared EXESTH (“out of his mind”) by certain people, a view apparently shared also by his family (Mk. 3:21f.).

= thought to be deranged (1) by certain people (2)

(5) Both Jesuses are depicted at least for some period of time as being daily in the Temple. Jesus, son of Ananias, is described by Josephus as KAQ’ hHMERAN (“daily”) in the Temple repeating “his lament, “Woe to Jerusalem” ( _J.W._, VI. 306), and the Markan Jesus reminds the arresting party in Gethsemane that “KAQ’ hHMERAN (“daily”) I was with you in the Temple teaching.”

= for some period of time (1) as being daily (2) in the Temple (3)

(6) Both Jesuses are staged as present in the Temple (TO hIERPON; see _J.W._, VI.. 301 and Mk. 11:15-19) during the time of the holy festival(s) (EORTH; see _J.W._, VI..300 and Mk 14:2).

= present in the Temple (1) during the time of the holy festival (2)

((7) Both Jesuses draw upon sections of Jeremiah 7— in which the prophet condemns the Temple, the people of Judah and Jerusalem— to frame their own respective condemnation of the Temple and or Jerusalem itself.

= draw upon Jeremiah (1) to frame their own condemnation (2)

(8) Both Jesuses specifically pronounce woes (OUAI or AIAI) on the people (LAOS) of Jerusalem and/or Judea (_J.W._, VI. 304, 306, 309 and Mk. 13:17)

= pronounce woes (1) on the people of Jerusalem or Judea (2)

(9) Both Jesuses pronounce doom upon the Temple (NAOS) itself ( _J.W._, VI. 300, 309 and Mk. 13:2).

= pronounce doom (1) upon the Temple (2)

(10) Both Jesuses are arrested by or at the instigation of Jerusalem leaders. Jesus, son of Ananias, is arrested by some of Jerusalem’s leading or distinguished citizens (TWN . . . EPISHMWN TINES DHMOTWN: _J.W._, VI.. 302), and the Markan Jesus is arrested by an armed crowd sent by the chief priests, scribes and elders (Mk. 14:43).

= arrested (1) by or at the instigation of Jerusalem leaders (2)

(11) In their respective hearings before Jerusalem leaders (i.e., the “Jewish hearings”), each Jesus is either chastised for or accused of making an inflammatory pronouncement against the Temple. Jesus, son of Ananias, is chastised for “his ill-omened words” against the Temple, as well as the city and its people (_J.W._, VI. 302 ). The Markan Jesus is accused (but falsely so, according to Mark) of vowing that he would destroy the Temple and build another in three days (Mk. 14:58).

= accused of making pronouncement (1) against the Temple (2)

(12) Both Jesuses in their Jewish hearings keep their respective silence in the face of the charges made against them with regard to their respective pronouncements against the Temple (_J.W._, VI. 302 and Mk. 14:60f.).

= keeping silence (1) in the face of the charges (2)

(13) Both Jesuses are physically abused at their Jewish hearings. Jesus, the son of Ananias, is struck by certain ones (TOUS PAIONTAS) at his hearing (_J.W._, VI. 302 ). The Markan Jesus at his hearing is spit upon, people begin “to strike [KOLAFIZEIN] him” and “the guards [when it is all over] received him with blows” (Mk. 14:65).

= physically abused (1) at their Jewish hearings (2)

And so on.

So what´s the problem?
 
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AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,034
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Ok, if we want to play ...

(1) : irrelevant. Jesus was a common name with religious value. If you thought your son had a certain future ... Jesus was a good name.
(2) : not a few individuals did that in that period. The statistical possibility that more than one Jesus did it is not irrelevant [note that also in the Talmud there is a Jesus ...]
(3) : @Tammuz, in my past I've been moderator of a forum of comparative theology. I discovered, with a certain surprise, that the accusation of being "demon-possessed " is really common. It's an easy trick to make an annoying individual ready for death penalty. So that, it's not so valid to build a parallel.
(4) : I don't see the similarity.
(5) : how many persons called "Jesus" were daily in the Temple? Have we got reliable statistics?
(6) : again, I don't see the similarity.
(7) : do you find so odd that two different Jewish personages followed the Scriptures?
(8) : alternative history.
(9) : alternative history,
(10) : contextual similarities. Almost all the "rebels" knew that destiny.
(11) : as above.
(12) : as above.
(13) : as above.


The problem is that we cannot state with certainty the historical context of the two figures. That's the first step. Similarities come after ...
 

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,941
Rural Australia
It makes no sense to restrict the concept of ´science´ to natural sciences, as you seemingly do..
My claim was that the historian is free to be guided by the counsel of science, and I provided the example of C14 dating. This is an applied science.