[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

orion-list War Scroll and Cargo cults

David Suter's response, quoted below, reinforces an idea I have had for
some time, but never dared put forward in public. I guess I'll take a
chance and see how others respond (maybe, after the response I'll get
I'll decide that I should have kept silent!). I have wondered whether
the War Scroll should be compared to the military plans of "cargo
as described for example by Worsley in The Trumpet Shall Sound. Both the
War Scroll and these cargo cults are plans for the ultimate
eschatological battle, but the interesting point of comparison I see
originates in the way some cargo cults prepared for that battle. They
have an elaborate organization based on imitating what they see of
European armies (divisions, commanders, flags, radio operators, medics,
etc.) but none of the "real" equipment that goes along with it (for
example, they have wooden guns, supposed to become real ones in battle).
The whole business is "fantasy," based on a combination of observation
and wishful thinking. To the extent that there is a basis in observation
the plans of such cargo cults reflect historical military experience,
but the component of imagination is quite large, putting a limit on the
extent to which it should be taken seriously by a military person. When
these "armies" took to the field against the colonialist armies they
were often slaughtered, which brings us back to corpses, where this
discussion started.
If this observation about cargo cults and the War Scroll has any
validity it would give us an angle for analysis of the mixture of
imagination and reality, and solve some of the problems scholars have
encountered in dealing with the text.

Al Baumgarten

"David W. Suter" wrote:

> It's interesting that you should raise the issue of practicality.
> taught courses on the Scrolls in our extension program on a U.S. Army
> base and have had students who work for Army Intelligence (no cracks
> please) and whose speciality is analyzing enemy battle plans, write
> papers applying their speciality to the War Scroll.  They note that,
> while the War Scroll may reflect a knowledge of ancient battle
> its understanding of issues related to personnel and supply,
> particularly to sustain the plan over a significant period of time,
> don't touch base with reality.  They home in on a continuing supply of

> soldiers and what would be involved in manufacturing the weapons as
> described.  The results suggest that the scroll is a curious mixture
> realism and fantasy.
> David Suter
> Saint Martin's College

For private reply, e-mail to "Albert I. Baumgarten" <baumgaa@mail.biu.ac.il>
To unsubscribe from Orion, e-mail to majordomo@mscc.huji.ac.il with the
message: "unsubscribe Orion." Archives are on the Orion Web site
and at http://www.mail-archive.com/orion%40panda.mscc.huji.ac.il/. For
more information on the Orion Center, visit our web site,