Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ten Important Principles for Doing Comparative Studies

1. Both similarities and differences must be considered.
2. Similarities may suggest a common cultural heritage rather than borrowing.
3. It is common to find similarities at the surface but differences at the conceptual level and vice versa.
4. All elements must be understood in their own context as accurately as possible before crosscultrual comparisons are made.
5. Proximity in time, geography, and spheres of cultural contact all increase the possibility of interaction leading to influence.
6. A case for literary borrowing requires identification of likely channels of transmission.
7. The significance of differences between two pieces of literature is minimized if the works are not the same genre.
8. Similar functions may be performed by different genres in different cultures.
9. When literary or cultural elements are borrowed, they may in turn be transformed into something quite different.
10. A single culture will rarely be monolithic, either in a contemporary cross-section or in consideration of a passage of time.

—Walton , John H. “Methodology: An Introductory Essay.” Pages viii-xiii in vol. 1 of Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. Edited by John H. Walton. 5 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. 

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