Warring against Terror The War Scroll and the Mobilization of Emotion

in Journal for the Study of Judaism
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Abstract

While noticing that the tactics and weapons prescribed in the War Scroll resemble those used by Greek and Roman armies, previous scholarship has been dubious of the idea that the scroll actually guided real-life military practice because its battle-plan seems so impractical, assuming a conflict that unfolds in a highly scripted way and relying on ritual and supernatural assistance. This essay aims to rethink the role that the War Scroll played in early Jewish military practice by reading it in light of Greco-Roman theories of how to deploy emotion in battle. Military thinkers like Xenophon and Julius Caesar recognized troop psychology as an important tactical variable that could be manipulated through ritual and supernatural portents. The War Scroll mirrors these practices in a way that supports reading it as a similar effort to manipulate troop psychology arising under the influence of—and perhaps in reaction against—Greco-Roman military practice.

Journal for the Study of Judaism

In the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period

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