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In: Comparing Religions
In: Comparing Religions

Abstract

The recent monograph, Paul, Founder of Churches (2012), raises a range of theoretical and methodological questions about the deployment of comparison in the description and analysis of ancient Christian phenomena. This essay responds to a range of critical responses to this volume raised by participants in a 2011 panel during a Society of Biblical Literature Greco-Roman Religions session devoted to discussion of the book.

In: Religion and Theology

Abstract

Edwin Hatch argued for the comparability of early Christian and Greco-Roman institutional forms. But his critics dismissed Hatch’s comparanda for being insufficiently precise, and thus no threat to the uniqueness of Christian forms. This paper explores comparison, the complexities of claiming comparability in specific cases, arguing that the process of identifying comparanda is political and strategic, used both as a tool and a weapon, and too often in the study of religion – as in the case of Hatch’s critics – comparison is wielded in the service of incomparability, a strategic move that can be called comparatio iniquitatis causa (comparison for the sake of difference).

In: Religion and Theology
In: Comparing Religions
In: Comparing Religions
In: Comparing Religions
In: Comparing Religions
Possibilities and Perils?