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Title: The Hebrew tradition of 'holy war', with special reference to the Qumran 'Battle Scroll'
Author: Whitton, James
Awarding Body: University of St Andrews
Current Institution: University of St Andrews
Date of Award: 1979
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At the outset it is necessary to examine the origins and development of holy war in the Old Testament. Here aspects of war practice form the basis of an extensive conceptual and ideological presentation. Sacral ordinances govern the inauguration, conduct and conclusion of battle. The sacral nature of war is seen in the characterisation of the warrior-state as one of ritual purity and consecration. Essential for the raison d'etre of holy war is the portrayal of Yahweh as warrior. The ideology of holy war is epitomised in the concept: "the battle is the Lord's". The Old Testament presentation reaches its climax in the liturgical emphasis of 2 Chronicles 20. That holy war could be revived at a much later period is seen in the historical circumstances of the Maccabaean Revolt. In the accounts of First and Second Maccabees there is evidence of the taking up of the constant elements of the Old Testament holy war tradition. A central feature for the writer of First Maccabees is the pre-battle assembly at Mizpah. The contingent of Hasidaeans in the Maccabaean army indicates a revival of the concept of the consecrated warrior. In the Maccabaean narratives great importance attaches to war-speech, prayer and appeal for divine help. As a military manual the Qumran Battle Scroll is without parallel in Hebrew literature. Most notably the compilation combines a sacerdotal emphasis with practical details of military organisation and procedure. An eschatological tone predominates. The sacral character of the war and cultic requirements for the warriors are indicated. Divine intervention is also evident. Motifs and concepts of the Old Testament holy war tradition as well as aspects of ancient war practice are taken up. At the same time substantial development and extension of the Old Testament material is presented. The following features are unique; the elaborate system of trumpet signals, the combined' use of trumpets and horns in battle, the provision of inscriptions, the role of priests in battle, hymnic and liturgical material, and a cosmic-apocalyptic dimension which portrays a battle-force of angels and men. Certain aspects of the Scroll's emphasis may reflect the historical situation in the Maccabaean/Hasmonaean period. P.R. Davies has shown that much of the literary material of the Scroll has its source and background in the Maccabaean and post-Maccabaean period. Examination of First and Second Maccabees reveals a number of definite links between Maccabaean warfare and 1 QM.
Supervisor: Black, Matthew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BM645.H7W5 ; War—Religious aspects—Judaism