11. J. Z. Smith and the Necessary Double-Face (NAASR Panel)
Sam Gill [+]
University of Colorado
Starting with Jonathan Z. Smith’s Yale dissertation, The Glory Jest and Riddle: James George Frazer and The Golden Bough (1969), Gill argues that comparison is powered by the distinctly human capacity to say that one thing is not the other. This structurality (one of play and joke and riddle) applies not only to comparison, but also to religion, with both comparison and religion having what he characterizes as an abductive quality—that feeling-kind of knowing, often initiated by the surprise of incongruity.