Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term zeal came into common usage in reference to a sect of 1st-century-C.E. religious fanatics who were uncompromising in their opposition to Roman rule. Some of them carried daggers under their cloaks and killed anyone who did not fully support their views. Such extremism brought reprisals that ultimately crushed their sect. Accordingly, zeal refers to extreme ideological conviction that belligerently insists on consensus, without regard for practical consequences. Zeal is puzzling because it can be unreasonable and self-defeating. Just as the original Zealots' aggressive fervor led to the annihilation of their sect, thousands of naively unprepared crusaders were killed from 1086 C.E. to 1270 C.E. in seemingly foolhardy campaigns to seize Jerusalem for their ideological cause. Their consensual zeal inflated them with a righteous euphoria that was insensitive not only to obstacles and dangers but also to their own atrocities. Zeal is an important social phenomenon to understand because ...