Montanism

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Montanism /ˈmɒntəˌnɪzəm/ , known by its adherents as the New Prophecy, was an early Christian movement of the late 2nd century, later referred to by the name of its founder, Montanus /mɒnˈtnəs/ .

Early Christianity Christianity up to 325 CE

Early Christianity covers the period from its origins until the First Council of Nicaea (325). This period is typically divided into the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period.

Christianity in the 2nd century Christianity-related events during the 2nd century

Christianity in the 2nd century was largely the time of the development of variant Christian teachings, and the Apostolic Fathers who are regarded as defenders of the developing proto-orthodoxy. Major figures who were later declared by the developing proto-orthodoxy to be heretics were Marcion, Valentinius, and Montanus.

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Montanism held similar views about the basic tenets of Christian doctrine to those of the wider Christian Church, but it was labelled a heresy for its belief in new prophetic revelations. The prophetic movement called for a reliance on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit and a more conservative personal ethic. Parallels have been drawn between Montanism and modern-day movements such as Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement. [1]

Christian Church Term used to refer to the whole group of people belonging to the Christian religious tradition

The Christian Church, also called the holy catholic church, is a Protestant ecclesiological concept of a church invisible comprising all Christians. In this understanding, "Christian Church" or "catholic church" does not refer to a particular Christian denomination but to the "body" of all "believers", both defined in various ways. Other Christian traditions believe that these terms apply only to a specific concrete Christian institution, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, or the Assyrian Church of the East; or to a group of institutions, as in the branch theory taught by some Anglicans.

Heresy belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs

Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.

Pentecostalism Renewal movement within Protestant Christianity

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

It originated in Phrygia, a province of Asia Minor, and flourished throughout the region, leading to the movement being referred to elsewhere as "Cataphrygian" (meaning it was "from Phrygia") or simply as "Phrygian". [2] It spread rapidly to other regions in the Roman Empire before Christianity was generally tolerated or legal. It persisted in some isolated places into the 6th century.

Phrygia ancient kingdom in Anatolia

In classical antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now Asian Turkey, centered on the Sangarios River. After its conquest, it became a region of the great empires of the time.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided into a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Foundation

Scholars debate as to when Montanus first began his prophetic activity, having chosen dates varying from c. AD 135 to as late as AD 177. [3] [ page needed ] [4] Montanus was a recent convert when he first began prophesying, supposedly during the proconsulate of Gratus in a village in Mysia named Ardabau; no proconsul and village so named have been identified, however. [5] Some accounts claim that before his conversion to Christianity, Montanus was a priest of Apollo or Cybele. [6] [lower-alpha 1] He believed he was a prophet of God and that the Paraclete spoke through him.

Mysia Historical region in the northwest of ancient Asia Minor

Mysia was a region in the northwest of ancient Asia Minor. It was located on the south coast of the Sea of Marmara. It was bounded by Bithynia on the east, Phrygia on the southeast, Lydia on the south, Aeolis on the southwest, Troad on the west and by the Propontis on the north. In ancient times it was inhabited by the Mysians, Phrygians, Aeolian Greeks and other groups.

Proconsul governor of a province in the Roman republic

A proconsul was an official of ancient Rome who acted on behalf of a consul. A proconsul was typically a former consul. The term is also used in recent history for officials with delegated authority.

Montanus proclaimed the towns of Pepuza and Tymion in west-central Phrygia as the site of the New Jerusalem, making the larger - Pepuza - his headquarters. [8] Phrygia as a source for this new movement was not arbitrary. Hellenization never fully took root in Phrygia, unlike many of the surrounding Eastern regions of the Roman Empire. This sense of difference, while simultaneously having easy access to the rest of the Mediterranean Christian world, encouraged the foundation of this separate sect of Christianity. [9]

Pepuza was an ancient town in Phrygia, Asia Minor. Coordinates of the central terrasse of the settlement: UTM 35 S 0714926/4253954 (WGS-84), 38.408˚ N, 29.4615˚ E.

Tymion was an ancient town in Phrygia, Asia Minor. Its site is located at the Turkish village of Şükranje. From the middle of the 2nd century CE to the middle of the 6th century CE, Tymion was an important town for the ancient Christian church of Montanism. The Montanists, whose church spread all over the Roman Empire, expected the New Jerusalem to descend to earth at Tymion and the nearby town of Pepuza; Pepuza was the headquarters of Montanism and the seat of the Montanist patriarch. One of the founders of Montanism, Montanus, called both towns "Jerusalem." In late antiquity, both places attracted crowds of pilgrims from all over the Roman Empire. Women played an emancipated role in Montanism. They could become priests and also bishops. In the 6th century CE, this church became extinct.

New Jerusalem Ezekiels prophetic vision of a city centered on the rebuilt Holy Temple

In the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible, New Jerusalem is Ezekiel's prophetic vision of a city centered on the rebuilt Holy Temple, the Third Temple, to be established in Jerusalem, which would be the capital of the Messianic Kingdom, the meeting place of the twelve tribes of Israel, during the Messianic era. The prophecy is recorded by Ezekiel as having been received on Yom Kippur of the year 3372 of the Hebrew calendar.

Montanus had two female colleagues, Prisca (sometimes called Priscilla, the diminutive form of her name) and Maximilla, who likewise claimed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Their popularity even exceeded Montanus' own. [10] "The Three" spoke in ecstatic visions and urged their followers to fast and to pray, so that they might share these revelations. Their followers claimed they received the prophetic gift from the prophets Quadratus and Ammia of Philadelphia, figures believed to have been part of a line of prophetic succession stretching all the way back to Agabus (1st century AD) and to the daughters of Philip the Evangelist. [11] In time, the New Prophecy spread from Montanus's native Phrygia across the Christian world, to Africa and to Gaul.

Prisca, often written in the diminutive form Priscilla, was a 2nd-century C.E. foundational leader and prophet of the religious movement known today as Montanism based in the Phrygian towns of Pepuza and Tymion. She, along with the prophets Montanus and Maximilla, proselytized a form of Christianity in which the Holy Spirit would enter the human body and speak through it.

Priscilla is an English female given name adopted from Latin Prisca, derived from priscus. One suggestion is that it is intended to bestow long life on the bearer.

Maximilla was a prophetess and an early advocate of Montanism, a heretical Christian sect founded in the third century A.D. by Montanus. Some scholars believe that Maximilla and Priscilla, another prophet, were actually the co-founders of Montanism. Other scholars dismiss this as unproven. Either way, it generally agreed upon that Maximilla and Priscilla provided the primary prophetic content and some of the oracles for the movement.

Aftermath

The response to the New Prophecy split the Christian communities, and the proto-orthodox clergy mostly fought to suppress it. Opponents believed that evil spirits possessed the Phrygian prophets, and both Maximilla and Priscilla were the targets of failed exorcisms. [12] The churches of Asia Minor pronounced the prophecies profane and excommunicated New Prophecy adherents. [13] Around 177, Apollinarius, Bishop of Hierapolis, presided over a synod which condemned the New Prophecy. [14] The leaders of the churches of Lyons and Vienne in Gaul responded to the New Prophecy in 177. Their decision was communicated to the churches in Asia and Pope Eleuterus, but it is not known what this consisted of, only that it was "prudent and most orthodox". [15] It is likely they called for moderation in dealing with the movement.

There was real doubt at Rome, and its bishop (either Eleuterus or Victor I) even wrote letters in support of Montanism, although he was later persuaded by Praxeas to recall them. [16] [17] In 193, an anonymous writer found the church at Ancyra in Galatia torn in two, and opposed the "false prophecy" there. [18]

Eventually, Montanist teachings came to be regarded as heresy by the orthodox Church for a number of reasons. The clash of basic beliefs between the movement's proponents and the greater Christian world was likely enough for such conflict to occur. Additionally, in the opinion of anti-Montanists, the movement's penchant for dramatic public displays by its adherents brought unwanted attention to the still fledgling religion. Thus, fears concerning the appearance of Montanist practices to their non-Christian rulers fueled anti-Montanist sentiment. [19] The imperial government carried out sporadic executions of Christians under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, circa AD 161-180, which coincides with the spread of Montanism.[ citation needed ]

There was never a uniform excommunication of New Prophecy adherents, and in many places they maintained their standing within the orthodox community. This was the case at Carthage. While not without tension, the church there avoided schism over the issue. There were women prophesying at Carthage, and prophecy was considered a genuine charism. It was the responsibility of the council of elders to test all prophecy and to determine genuine revelation. [20] Tertullian, undoubtedly the best-known defender of the New Prophecy, believed that the claims of Montanus were genuine beginning c. 207. [21] He believed in the validity of the New Prophecy and admired the movement's discipline and ascetic standards. A common misconception is that Tertullian decisively left the orthodox church and joined a separate Montanist sect; in fact, he remained an early-catholic Christian. [21] [22]

Although what became the orthodox Christian church prevailed against Montanism within a few generations, inscriptions in the Tembris valley of northern Phrygia, dated between 249 and 279, openly proclaim allegiance to the New Prophecy. Speros Vryonis considers these inscriptions remarkable in that they are the only set of inscriptions which openly reveal the religious affiliations of the deceased before the period of toleration, when Christians dared not to do so. [23]

A letter of Jerome to Marcella, written in 385, refutes the claims of Montanists that had been troubling her. [7] A group of "Tertullianists" may have continued at Carthage. The anonymous author of Praedestinatus records that a preacher came to Rome in 388 where he made many converts and obtained the use of a church for his congregation on the grounds that the martyrs to whom it was dedicated had been Montanists. [24] He was obliged to flee after the victory of Theodosius I.

In his own time, Augustine (354 – 430) records that the Tertullianist group had dwindled to almost nothing and, finally, was reconciled to the church and handed over its basilica. [25] It is not certain whether these Tertullianists were in all respects "Montanist" or not. In the 6th century, on the orders of the Emperor Justinian, John of Ephesus led an expedition to Pepuza to destroy the Montanist shrine there, which was based on the tombs of Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla.

A sect called "Montanist" existed in the 8th century; the Emperor Leo III ordered the conversion and baptism of its members. These Montanists refused, locked themselves in their houses of worship, set the buildings on fire and perished. [23]

Beliefs

Because much of what is known about Montanism comes from anti-Montanist sources, it is difficult to know what they actually believed and how those beliefs differed from the Christian mainstream of the time. [26] The New Prophecy was also a diverse movement, and what Montanists believed varied by location and time. [27] Montanism was particularly influenced by Johannine literature, especially the Gospel of John and the Apocalypse of John (also known as the Book of Revelation). [28]

In John's Gospel, Jesus promised to send the Paraclete or Holy Spirit, from which Montanists believed their prophets derived inspiration. In the Apocalypse, John was taken by an angel to the top of a mountain where he sees the New Jerusalem descend to earth. Montanus identified this mountain as being located in Phrygia near Pepuza. [29] Followers of the New Prophecy called themselves spiritales ("spiritual people") in contrast to their opponents whom they termed psychici ("carnal, natural people"). [30]

Ecstatic prophecy

As the name "New Prophecy" implied, Montanism was a movement focused around prophecy, specifically the prophecies of the movement's founders which were believed to contain the Holy Spirit's revelation for the present age. [31] Prophecy itself was not controversial within 2nd-century Christian communities. [32] [33] However, the New Prophecy, as described by Eusebius of Caesarea, departed from Church tradition: [34]

And he [Montanus] became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning. [35]

The Montanist prophets did not speak as messengers of God but were described as possessed by God while being unable to resist. [15] A prophetic utterance by Montanus described this possessed state: "Lo, the man is as a lyre, and I fly over him as a pick. The man sleepeth, while I watch." Thus, the Phrygians were seen as false prophets because they acted irrationally and were not in control of their senses. [36]

A criticism of Montanism was that its followers claimed their revelation received directly from the Holy Spirit could supersede the authority of Jesus or Paul the Apostle or anyone else. [37] In some of his prophecies, Montanus apparently, and somewhat like the oracles of the Greco-Roman world, spoke in the first person as God: "I am the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." [38]

Many understood this to be Montanus claiming himself to be God. However, scholars agree that these words of Montanus exemplify the general practice of religious prophets to speak as the passive mouthpieces of the divine, and to claim divine inspiration (similar to modern prophets stating "Thus saith the Lord"). That practice occurred in Christian as well as in pagan circles with some degree of frequency. [39] [40]

Other beliefs

Other beliefs and practices (or alleged beliefs and practices) of Montanism are as follows:

See also

Notes

  1. Claim made in Dialogue Between a Montanist and an Orthodox (4.4) and possibly alluded to by St. Jerome [7]

Related Research Articles

Prophet person claiming to speak for divine beings

In religion, a prophet is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divine being and is said to speak on that entity's behalf, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings from the supernatural source to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.

Revelation the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity

In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.

Tertullian Christian theologian

Tertullian was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. Of Berber origin, he was the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was an early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, including contemporary Christian Gnosticism. Tertullian has been called "the father of Latin Christianity" and "the founder of Western theology."

Pope Soter pope

Pope Soter was the Bishop of Rome from c. 167 to his death c. 174. According to the Annuario Pontificio, the dates may have ranged from 162–168 to 170–177. He was born in Fondi, Campania, today Lazio region, Italy. Soter is known for declaring that marriage was valid only as a sacrament blessed by a priest and also for formally inaugurating Easter as an annual festival in Rome. His name, from Greek Σωτήριος from σωτήρ "saviour", would be his baptismal name, as his lifetime predates the tradition of adopting papal names.

A prophecy is a message that is claimed by a prophet to have been communicated to them by a deity. Such messages typically involve inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of divine will concerning the prophet's social world and events to come. All known ancient cultures had prophets who delivered prophecies.

<i>Passion of Saint Perpetua, Saint Felicitas, and their Companions</i> Carthaginian Christian martyrs

The Passion of Saint Perpetua, Saint Felicitas, and their Companions is one of the oldest and most notable early Christian texts. It survives in both Latin and Greek forms, and contains a first person prison diary of the young mother and martyr Perpetua. Scholars generally believe that it is authentic although in the form we have it may have been edited by others. The text also appears to contain, in his own words, the accounts of the visions of Saturus, another Christian martyred with Perpetua. An editor who states he was an eyewitness has added accounts of the martyrs' suffering and deaths. It was catalogued by the Bollandists as BHL 6633–6636. BHG 1482

Alogi

The Alogi were a group of heterodox Christians in Asia Minor that flourished c. 200 CE, and taught that the Gospel of John and the Apocalypse were not the work of the Apostle, but his adversary Cerinthus. What we know of them is derived from their doctrinal opponents, whose literature is extant, particularly St. Epiphanius of Salamis. It was Epiphanius who coined the name "Alogi" as a word play suggesting that they were both illogical (anti-logikos) and they were against the Christian doctrine of the Logos. While Epiphanius does not specifically indicate the name of its founder, Dionysius Bar-Salibi, citing a lost work of Hippolytus, writes in his commentary on the Apocalypse,

Hippolytus the Roman says: A man appeared, named Caius, saying that the Gospel is not by John, nor the Apocalypse but that it is by Cerinthus the heretic.

Sabellius was a third-century priest and theologian who most likely taught in Rome, but may have been a North African from Libya. Basil and others call him a Libyan from Pentapolis, but this seems to rest on the fact that Pentapolis was a place where the teachings of Sabellius thrived, according to Dionysius of Alexandria, c. 260. What is known of Sabellius is drawn mostly from the polemical writings of his opponents.

Direct revelation is a term used by some Christian churches to express their belief in a communication from God to a person, by words, impression, visions, dreams or actual appearance. Direct revelation is believed to be an open communication between God and man, or the Holy Spirit and man, without any other exterior (secondary) means. Direct revelation from evil spirits can also occur.

Apollonius of Ephesus Greek eccelesiastical writer

Apollonius of Ephesus was an anti-Montanist Greek ecclesiastical writer, probably from Asia Minor.

Christian mysticism in ancient Africa

Christian mysticism in ancient Africa took form in the desert, as part of a long-reaching Judeo-Christian mystical tradition. In the Judeo-Christian mystical tradition, the desert is known to induce religious experiences and altered states of consciousness.

Saint Thraseas was a martyr under the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Prior to his death he served as Bishop of Eumenia, Phrygia, in Asia Minor.

References

  1. Robeck, Cecil M, Jr (2010), "Montanism and Present Day 'Prophets'", Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies , 32: 413, doi:10.1163/157007410x531934 .
  2. Speros Vryonis, The decline of medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor: and the process of Islamization from the eleventh through the fifteenth century, (Berkeley: University of California, 1971), p. 36
  3. de Labriolle, Pierre (1913). La crise montaniste. Bibliothèque de la Fondation Thiers (in French). 31. Leroux. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  4. Trevett 1996, p. 2–7.
  5. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 12; 19 note 8.
  6. Tabbernee 2009, p. 19 note 2.
  7. 1 2 Jerome 385, Letter 41.
  8. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 15–18.
  9. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 44.
  10. Tabbernee 2009, p. 89.
  11. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 37, 40–41 notes 6–8.
  12. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 31–32.
  13. Tabbernee 2009, p. 25.
  14. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 21–23.
  15. 1 2 3 Chapman, John (1911). "Montanists". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 10. Robert Appleton. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  16. Tertullian, Adversus Praxean, c. 1.
  17. Trevett 1996, pp. 58–59.
  18. Quoted by Eusebius 5.16.4
  19. Trevett 1996, p. 43.
  20. Tabbernee 2009, p. 128.
  21. 1 2 Tabbernee 2009, p. 98 note 1.
  22. Justo L. González, The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Present Day, Prince Press, 1984, Vol. 1, pp. 159-161• Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, The University of Chicago Press, 1971, Vol. 1, pp. 181-199
  23. 1 2 Vryonis, Decline of Medieval Hellenism, p. 57 and notes.
  24. Tertullian, Praedestinatus, v. 1 c. 86.
  25. Tertullian, De haeresibus .
  26. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 1–3.
  27. Tabbernee 2009, p. 118 note 5.
  28. Tabbernee 2009, p. 20 note 21.
  29. Tabbernee 2009, p. 67.
  30. Tabbernee 2009, p. 110.
  31. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 68.
  32. Ash, James L, Jr (June 1976), "The Decline of Ecstatic Prophecy in the Early Church", Theological Studies, 37 (2): 236.
  33. Jerome 385, Letter 41.2: "we tell them [Montanists] that we do not so much reject prophecy—for this is attested by the passion of the Lord—as refuse to receive prophets whose utterances fail to accord with the Scriptures old and new".
  34. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 12, 37.
  35. of Caesarea, Eusebius, "16", Ecclesiastical History, Book 5.
  36. Epiphanius, Against Heresies, 48.3–4.
  37. Placher, William C. A History of Christian Theology: an introduction. Westminster John Knox Press, 1983, p. 50.
  38. Tabbernee 2009, p. 12.
  39. Pelikan 1956, p. 101.
  40. Tabbernee 2009, p. 93.
  41. Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 63.9.
  42. Tabbernee 2009, p. 111.
  43. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 129.
  44. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 123.
  45. Tabbernee 2009, p. 91.
  46. Epiphanius, Against Heresies, 49.2.5.
  47. Wikisource-logo.svg  Reynolds, Francis J., ed. (1921). "Montanism"  . Collier's New Encyclopedia . New York: P.F. Collier & Son Company.
  48. Tabbernee 2009, pp. 13–15.
  49. Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, 5, 18
  50. Trevett 1996, p. 202.
  51. Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, 5, 23-25.

Bibliography

Further reading