[ by Charles Cameron — ISIS and Dabiq, with Stephen O’Leary on the Millerites in parallel ]
I have a longish post in the works about the battle for Dabiq which will soon be upon us, in which I’ll give some preliminary indications about the ways in which groups spin things when prophecies on which they’ve depended don’t occur as prophesied and planned. It’s a wonderfully complex business, and one with direct bearing on the current situation.
Meanwhile, Colw Bunzel fills us in on the ISIS strategy this time around, in a tweet today which I’m posting while still working on my longer ZP piece:
Islamic State assures readers in al-Naba' that current struggle for Dabiq is not prophesied "greater battle of Dabiq." That will come later pic.twitter.com/eR0GCXzkTV
— Cole Bunzel (@colebunzel) October 14, 2016
This is reminiscent of the Millerites, whose prophet William Miller predicted , “I am fully convinced that sometime between March 21st, 1843, and March 21st, 1844, according to the Jewish mode of computation of time, Christ will come.” Stephen O’Leary, in his magisterial Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Rhetoric, comments:
When the End failed to materialize by March 22, the movement’s first crisis of confidence occurred. Various attempts to recalculate the chronology were made. The puzzling failure of the Lord to return was interpreted as the “tarrying time” of the biblical parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Mt. 25:1—12), a key text for the Millerites. Attempts were also made to justify the failure of prophecy on the grounds that the Lord was testing the believers’ faith.
O’Leary’s chapters 4, Millerism as a Rhetorical Movement, and 5, Millerite Argumentation, are definitive, and Festinger‘s When Prophecy Fails is the classic psychological exploration of prophetic failures, and subsequent work by scholars of apocalyptic and new religious movements have refined and expanded our understanding of such processes. But more of all that in my pending post here, My latest for Lapido: on the fall of Dabiq & failure of prophecy.