Chapter

Bats and Turkeys

Richard Landes

in Heaven on Earth

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753598
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897445 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753598.003.0003
Bats and Turkeys

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This chapter analyzes the dilemma of social scientists dealing with apocalyptic phenomena: anthropologists can study current movements; historians can see the long-term effects, but have difficulty reconstructing the early period from a documention, composed and preserved by scribes who are hostile to the original (wrong) beliefs. The chapter presents an analogy to icebergs, in which the oral apocalyptic discourse dominated the public sphere even as it left only a tiny trace in the texts. Thus, historians who assume the relatively small imprint of apocalyptic beliefs and activities are so much flotsam and jetsam of a ship Augustine, the great horned owl, sank over 1600 years ago, may well sink their historiographical ships on the iceberg of apocalyptic discourse that lies below the surface of the texts.

Keywords: historiography; turkeys; bats; methodology; consensus of silence; oral discourse; deconstruction; Emperor's New Clothes

Chapter.  13824 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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