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Montanism was, in part at least, an attempt to revive the enthusiastic
prophetic element in the early Christian life. In its first
manifestations, in Asia Minor, Montanism was wild and fanatical. It soon
spread to the West, and in doing so it became, as did other Oriental
religious movements (e.g., Gnosticism and Manichaeanism, see 54), far
more sober. It even seemed to many serious persons to be nothing more than
a praiseworthy attempt to revive or retain certain primitive Christian
conditions, both in respect to personal morals and ecclesiastical
organization and life. In this way it came to be patronized by not a few
(e.g., Tertullian) who, in other respects, deviated in few or no points
from the prevailing thought and practice of Christians. See also 26.

Additional source material: Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 16-19, cf.
literature cited in McGiffert's notes. The sayings of Montanus,
Maximilla, and Priscilla are collected in Hilgenfeld,
Ketzergeschichte, 591 ff. See also Hippolytus, Refut., X,
25f. [= X, 21, ANF.]

(a) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 16:7. (MSG, 20:463.)

For Eusebius, see 3.

There is said to be a certain village named Ardabau, in Mysia, on the
borders of Phrygia. There, they say, when Gratus was proconsul of Asia, a
recent convert, Montanus by name--who, in his boundless desire for
leadership, gave the adversary opportunity against him--first became
inspired; and falling into a sort of frenzy and ecstasy raved and began to
babble and utter strange sounds, prophesying in a manner contrary to the
traditional and constant custom of the Church from the beginning. And he
stirred up, besides, two women [Maximilla and Priscilla], and filled them
with the false spirit, so that they talked frantically, at unseasonable
times, and in a strange manner, like the person already mentioned. And
the arrogant spirit taught them to revile the universal and entire Church
under heaven, because the spirit of false prophecy received from it
neither honor nor entrance into it; for the faithful in Asia met often and
in many places throughout Asia to consider this matter and to examine the
recent utterances, and they pronounced them profane and rejected the
heresy, and thus these persons were expelled from the Church and shut out
from the communion.

(b) Apollonius, in Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 18. (MSG, 20:475.)

Apollonius was possibly bishop of Ephesus. His work against the
Montanists, which appears to have been written about 197, was one
of the principal sources for Eusebius in his account of the
Montanists. Only fragments of his work have been preserved.

This is he who taught the dissolution of marriages; who laid down laws for
fasting; who named Pepuza and Tymion (which were small cities in Phrygia)
Jerusalem, desiring to gather people to them from everywhere; who
appointed collectors of money; who devised the receiving of gifts under
the name of offerings; who provided salaries for those who preached his
doctrine, so that by gluttony the teaching of his doctrine might prevail.

(c) Hippolytus, Refut., VIII, 19. (MSG, 16:3356.)

For Hippolytus, see 19, c.

But there are others who are themselves in nature more heretical than the
Quartodecimans. These are Phrygians by birth and they have been deceived,
having been overcome by certain women called Priscilla and Maximilla; and
they hold these for prophetesses, saying that in them the Paraclete Spirit
dwelt; and they likewise glorify one Montanus before these women as a
prophet. So, having endless books of these people, they go astray, and
they neither judge their statements by reason nor pay attention to those
who are able to judge. But they behave without judgment in the faith they
place in them, saying they have learned something more through them than
from the law and the prophets and the Gospels. But they glorify these
women above the Apostles and every gift, so that some of them presume to
say that there was something more in them than in Christ. These confess
God the Father of the universe and creator of all things, like the Church,
and all that the Gospel witnesses concerning Christ, but invent new fasts
and feasts and meals of dry food and meals of radishes, saying that thus
they were taught by their women. And some of them agree with the heresy of
the Noetians and say that the Father is very Son, and that this One became
subject to birth and suffering and death.

Next: The Defence Against Heresy

Previous: Encratites

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