There are 3 thoughts on “Finding Parallels: Some Cautions and Criticisms, Part Two”.

  1. I enjoyed reading the essays, though I would have preferred to see more criticism of parallelomania from scholars who are not also Christian apologists (they have just as much invested in proving the Bible is true as their critics are invested in showing how biblical narratives emerged from their historical contexts). While objectivity is a myth, many of the scholars you chose to support your argument are scholars who have a dog in the fight.

    For my personal taste, as a researcher in this field, I think pointing to textual criticism from the late 19th-century to the mid-20th-century is interesting, but it can also be problematic (for example, the lists of criteria for legitimate parallels, as opposed to false parallels, are not free from bias; they are also specifically tailored to biblical narratives and created in response to specific criticisms — so, sometimes the criteria are a good fit, but other times problematic). Along with including people like Arthur Lindey, I might look to modern textual scholars who also comment on similar issues in more nuanced ways (maybe Jerome McGann, David Greetham and his crowd; and given Gérard Genette’s continued the influence on this topic, I find his absence from any serious discussion on this topic to be curious).

    Finally, I’d be interested to get your thoughts: while your aim here is to critique Rick Grunder’s research, I assume you must realize that your research is also a devastating critique of Hugh Nibley’s research on the Book of Mormon — the majority of which hinges entirely on the types of parallels you have criticized.


  2. In light of McGuire’s careful work here, those who use the comparative method must employ more methodological rigor — whether apologists or polemicists.

    The main problem with Grunder’s uncritical “dragnet” approach is that it comes up with so much junk. Just occasionally, however, he does come up with an interesting suggestion: As McGuire points out, Grunder sets forth the bushel and the dollar as the best rationale for the structure of value-to-measures found in Alma 11. While the bushel would be irrelevant, since it is structured with pecks, pints, quarts, and coombs in such a way that it would make no sense as precedent, the division of the dollar into bits should be a matter of some interest. If we understand Grunder to find the true basis here in the 8-real Spanish dollar (peso de a ocho), divided in the American colonies and thereafter into eight “bits,” we must give credit where due. Yet, because he is unaware of striking ancient Egypto-Israelite correlations which are even tighter, his confining of his research only to recent times is his Achilles heel.

  3. This fine article represents an amazing amount of work; I found it enjoyable and enlightening. (And some of the advice you cite from The Young Man’s Guide is hilarious.)

    It’s clear to me that Grunder’s book could be criticized on other grounds besides the one you chose to emphasize. I find this a particularly unstable rhetorical stance to take: the notion that the cited texts “stand as evidence that the thoughts which [Joseph] proclaimed were waiting in the air. These works do not presume that ‘Joseph Smith once read us,’ so much as they insist that ‘we were already there’.” Uh, huh, sure. Fairly specific ideas and phrases from books whose circulation I just bet he did not try to trace would have been “already there” in rural western New York in the early 19th century? That’s hardly credible as a generalization. In particular, can someone offer any actual information to suggest that people in the area in question would have known or circulated the notions, let alone the specific details of something like The Young Man’s Guide. Sometimes the devil is not in the details, it’s in the generalizations.

    Thanks for a great piece of well-researched writing.

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