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

May 2011
2,925
Rural Australia
#41
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).

///

So what´s the problem?
I honestly don't know. I can see the parallels. I originally thought they must be significant enough to "mean something to an historian". That something I understood at that time to be some sort of "evidence" for a literary historical dependency to exist between the two texts. In other words, someone A wrote first and then someone else B copied what A wrote.

But I also want to be wary of possibly indulging in what has been termed "parallelomania". What are the chances that what I can read as parallels are actually better explained by another theory.



The problem is that we cannot state with certainty the historical context of the two figures. That's the first step. Similarities come after ...
I am in agreement with this first step. We can certainly place the historical context all of these to figures SOMEWHERE on a probability spectrum landscape. It doesn't really matter where for the moment.

Assume Josephus and Mark wrote stories about Jesus J1 and Jesus J2 as claimed.
Scholars have noted 22 "parallels" between the stories.

What is Step 2?

How can we objectively determine the historical significance (IF ANY) of these "parallels"?
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,175
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#42
Going back to a historical perspective, the significance of a parallel depends on how much it's documented.

We can find not a few potential parallels in history. To make a comparison, think to proto-Israelites and to how they adored Yawheh. They carried His Presence around using a votive ark which looked quite similar to the votive ark found in Tut's tomb [which was a tipical Egyptian Ark that they kept in the holy room of the temple], they built a temple which reminded an Egyptian temple as well and they kept the Presence of G-d hidden [like Egyptians did with the objects "carrying" the presence of their deities].

Considering these not irrelevant details, can we see a parallel? Did proto-Israelites copy the liturgy of the priests at Thebes, Memphis ...?

It's really probable, if they lived for real centuries in Egypt ... it was natural to copy the religion of that country.

But, can we document this historically? The Bible [the only source to check the legacy of the Tradition] doesn't report that G-d told to Israelites to make an ark "like an Egyptian one".

My opinion about not documented parallels is that they can be plausible or not.
If plausible they can be the base for a historical research [which would follow a hypothesis].
If documented they can be [obviously] the way to discover something [or to confirm a hypothesis].

In this case we've got a parallel which is in some measure plausible. The problem is that the measurement of plausibility is quite subjective.

So, if not documented, I consider a plausible [less or more] parallel as part of a hypothesis.
 
May 2011
2,925
Rural Australia
#43
In this case we've got a parallel which is in some measure plausible. The problem is that the measurement of plausibility is quite subjective.

So, if not documented, I consider a plausible [less or more] parallel as part of a hypothesis.

I tend to agree with this. The way I see it is that all historical statements are hypothetical. They may be associated with a truth value which is able to be represented somewhere on spectrum of probability. Historical hypotheses are most often concerned with specific historical evidence.

The evidence itself can be considered primary or secondary. What is the evidence in this specific case?

(1) and (2) The translation of two texts from two different authors.
Claims are then made that "a large number of parallels" (22) are observable between these two texts.
An inferential hypothesis is then made that these parallels "most likely" signify some "Historical dependence" between the texts and authors.

The question appears to be how can this inferential hypothesis be OBJECTIVELY classed as "most likely" rather than anything else.

I cant see any clear answer to this question.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,175
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#44
Now, I don't know the matter in deep, but going back to my curiosity about differences, it seems that Jesus ben Ananias was a rude peasant [in his family there were no carpenters], he didn't die because of a condemnation on a cross: after the trial before of the Roman governor, he was free to keep on predicting a terrible woe on Jerusalem ["So for seven years and five months he continued his wail "] and he finally got killed by a stone during the siege of the city.

Jesus ben Ananias - Wikipedia

This makes the parallel a bit weaker.

Anyway, it could be a mere literary model without problems. So the copycat could have made a partial "copy", adding something and modifying something else. Medieval literature is well known for this process [I have spent a certain time studying how manuscripts traveled and how they got modified when they got reported by later authors].

Frankly speaking, I think that it's really difficult to go beyond the definition of plausible, if not with concrete historical evidences.
 
May 2011
2,925
Rural Australia
#45
Going back to a historical perspective, the significance of a parallel depends on how much it's documented.
.

A number of historians past and present appear to draw on an argument from parallelism. In the case in the OP an argument is being made that 22 parallels have been identified between two texts. This they assert to be significant. How can this significance be measured?

IDK. Any ideas?

Elsewhere another contributor made these comments:

"I'm looking for a rigorous definition of what we are supposed to be looking for and counting. The argument is that a certain number of such countable things provides evidence of something. Without a definition we don't know how many countable things there are and the argument doesn't get off the ground.​
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,175
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#46
A number of historians past and present appear to draw on an argument from parallelism. In the case in the OP an argument is being made that 22 parallels have been identified between two texts. This they assert to be significant. How can this significance be measured?

IDK. Any ideas?

Elsewhere another contributor made these comments:

"I'm looking for a rigorous definition of what we are supposed to be looking for and counting. The argument is that a certain number of such countable things provides evidence of something. Without a definition we don't know how many countable things there are and the argument doesn't get off the ground.​
To evaluate the genuinity [so the significance] of a set of historical parallels is matter of study and it's a not easy task.

First of all we are dealing with the production of human intellect [literary works] and this makes things even more difficult [subjectivity is around]. Anyway, I tend to reason in negative: if parallels resist to two main "challenges" they are valid [I don't say "genuine" if they are not documented].

My two "challenges" are

* Semiotics
* Interpolation

* Semiotics
We have already had occasion to consider this particular approach to the analysis of a text. But here we have to focus our attention on the work of the historian who has[have] noted the parallels. In good substance we have to tray and understand if the historian has interpreted and in which measure. I would do this first because there is a second challenge waiting for a potentially valid parallel, before of becoming really valid. About this, to "interpret" means also to give a significance to something obvious. To carry the same name, if that name was common in a certain environment [religious Jewish world of 1st century ... "Jesus" wasn't a rare name in it], is not so significant. The historian gives to this more significance, actually. This can be effect of the validity of the other parallels [so licit] ... but in this case, personally I would leave the name at the end, not at the beginning of the list. Once evaluated the other items of the set, the name will conclude the scenario.

An other kind of interpretation, which is not so rare among historians actually, is to sum many weak parallels to obtain a strong parallelism. This procedure implies a real risk of alteration of the "message" coded in the later text.

* Interpolation

Chronicles in the past had written also "filling in the blanks", interpolating, adding details copied from tales of other personages or simply inventing. About this I could make the example of the literary construction of the figure of King Arthur: even if parallels are everywhere among the authors, it's quite evident that not a few of them were writing starting from different personages [from Cornwall to Scotland ...]. To this we have to add the reconstruction of the story of the manuscripts [it's always really interesting to follow the travel of a work]. Who copied the manuscript? When? In which circumstances? Where?

In our case, to do this, we have to forget about the sacredness of the Gospels [for who believes, obviously] and we have to treat them as any other text. The differences among the Gospels tell us that one or more [or all of them] evangelists interpolated. Even among the synoptic Gospels there are significant differences. This is a clue to keep in mind [it's a contextual reference: the authors of the Gospels interpolated, like many ancient authors of chronicles].


These are the two "challenges" that parallels, in my opinion, have to face.
 

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