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S. TALMON, The "comparative method" in biblical interpretation—principles and problems

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Chapter Summary

The "comparative method", did not emerge independently within the restricted frame of our discipline, but rather was devised and developed in other areas of historical and phenomenological research which gave comparative biblical studies their impetus. Comparativists can point to impressive achievements in the interpretation of some difficult biblical texts, predominantly, though not exclusively, through the utilization of Ugaritic material. What concerns us in the present context is the divergence on principles: on the one hand there is the tendency to identify "institutions", of a more or less "democratic" character, which played an important role in the Israelite body politic. It must be emphasized that the formulation of a methodology of comparative research in matters pertaining to ancient Israelite culture and the Old Testament literature, because of the comprehensiveness and the variety of issues to which this research applies itself, is a task which transcends the framework of this chapter.

Keywords: ancient Israelite culture; biblical interpretation; Canaanite mythic principle; comparative method; old testament literature; Ugaritic material



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