The tendency of philologically minded scholars to collect and note comparative materials to excess was termed “parallelomania” by Samuel Sandmel in the Society of Biblical Literature Presidential address of 1961.

“We might for our purposes define parallelomania as that extravagance among scholars which first overdoes the supposed similarities in passages and then proceeds to describe source and derivation as if implying literary connection flowing in an inevitable or predetermined direction.”

Now that’s a loaded definition. Sandmel claimed he had obtained the term “parallelomania” from a French book of about 1830, whose name he had forgotten. However, Sandmel also cites the term’s use in P. Menzel, De Graecis in libris כהלת et Σοφια [sic] vestigiis (Halle: C.A. Kaemmerer, 1888), 40. The book was republished the following year as Die griechische Einfluss auf Prediger und Weisheit Solomos (Halle: C.A. Kaemmerer, 1889) – so noted in Steven D. Fraade, Aharon Shemesh, Ruth Clements, eds, Rabbinic Perspectives: Rabbinic literature and the Dead Sea scrolls. Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature, 7–9 January, 2003 (Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah, 62; Leiden: Brill, 2006), 19.

But the English translation of Italian Gian Biagio Conte’s Memoria dei poeti e sistema letterario (Einaudi Torino, 1974), The Rhetoric of Imitation: Genre and Poetic Memory in Virgil and Other Latin Poetics, tr. Charles Segal (Ithaca and London: Cornell, 1986) uses a parallel term for “parallelomania”: “comparisonitis”.

“Comparisonitis … collecting for the sake of collecting.” (23)

I wonder: do you know of any other parallel terms which have been used for “parallelomania”?

And is it possible to trace the use of “parallelomania” back before P. Menzel?