Montanus & Montanism

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MONTANISM. About the middle of the second century (in 156, according to Epiphanius: Hær., xlviii. 1) Montanus appeared as a new prophet in Phrygia, at Ardaban on the frontier of Mysia, and found many adherents, among whom were Alcibiades and Theodotus. Under him, also, prophetesses appeared, - Priscilla and Maximilla. Prophecy was, indeed, the most prominent feature of the new movement. Ecstatic visions, announcing the approach of the second advent of Christ, and the establishment of the heavenly Jerusalem at Pepuza in Phrygia, and inculcating the severest asceticism and the most rigorous penitential discipline, were set forth as divine revelations, of which the prophet was only the bearer, and proclaimed as the direct continuation and final consummation of the prophetical gift of the apostolic age. In spite of the sensation it created and the discussion it caused, the movement remained for a long time within the pale of the Church; but as it grew in strength, penetrating from Asia Minor into Thrace, it naturally roused a stronger opposition, and, in several places, synods were convened against it. Some persons considered it to have been caused by a demon, and employed exorcism against it, such as Sotas of Anchialus, Zoticus of Comane, and Julian of Apamea. Others attacked it in a literary way, such as Claudius Apollinaris of Hierapolis, and Miltiades. Gradually the very contrast to it developed, - a party which rejected all Christian prophecy, and even denied the authenticity of the Gospel according to John on account of the Paraclete therein promised. At last, towards the close of the eighth decade, it became necessary for the Montanists to separate from the Orthodox Church in Phrygia, and form a schismatic congregation, organized by Montanus himself, which, however, did not stop the vehement literary polemics carried on against them by Serapion, Theodotus, and the Anonymous.


The first time the Montanists are spoken of in Western Europe is in those letters, which, during the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the confessors of the congregations of Lugdunum and Vienna sent from their prisons to Asia Minor and Rome. Between Asia Minor and the Gallic congregations there existed very intimate relations. Among the martyrs of Lugdunum and Vienna were several Phrygians. The principal object of the letters was, consequently, simply to inform the Christians of Asia Minor and Phrygia of the sufferings which their brethren in Gaul had endured. But, according to Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., V. 1), a kind of statement was added to the letters, of the view which the Gallic congregations took of the Montanist prophecy; and the presbyter Irenæus, who carried the letters to Rome, was enjoined to beg the Roman pope, Eleutherus, to continue in peaceful communication with the Asiatic congregations. Characteristically enough, Eusebius omits the statement; but every thing seems to indicate that the view it contained was very kind and mild. Now, in his book Adversus Praxeam, Tertullian speaks of a Roman pope, who, in opposition to the example of his predecessors, felt inclined to make peace with the Phrygian and Asiatic congregations, and recognize the prophecy of the Montanists, but was persuaded by the calumnies of the Monarchian Praxeas to change his mind, and condemn Montanism. That Roman pope was probably the very same Eleutherus (174-189,) to whom Irenæus was sent; and a condemnation of Montanism by Eleutherus would go far to explain the harsh measures which his successor, Victor, chose to employ in the paschal controversy. A Montanist congregation was at all events not formed in Rome; but the Montanist views of church discipline took, nevertheless, root there, and came more than once in conflict with the somewhat laxer practice of the Roman popes.

Condemned in Rome and in its native country, Montanism found a new home in North Africa, and its most prominent representative in Tertullian. He adopted all its views, and further developed them. The speedy advent of Christ, and the establishment of the millennium, are the fundamental ideas of his theology. A Christian church, which governs the world by slowly penetrating it, he does not understand. The living gift of prophecy, according to the divine plan of salvation, constitutes the true mediator between the times that are and the coming millennium; and the true preparation from the side of the Church is the establishment of a moral discipline which forces her members away from the whole merely natural side of human life. Science and art, all worldly education, every ornamental or gay form of life, should be avoided, because they are tainted by Paganism. The crown of human life is martyrdom. Fasts were multiplied, and rendered more severe. The second marriage was rejected, and the first was not encouraged. Against a mortal sin the Church should defend itself by rigidly excluding him who committed it, for the holiness of the Church was simply the holiness of its members. With such principles, Tertullian could not help coming into conflict with the Catholic Church. To him the very substance of the Church was the Holy Spirit, and by no means the episcopacy, whose right to wield the power of the keys he even rejected. Soon the conflict assumed such a form, that the Montanists were compelled to separate from the Catholic Church, and form an independent or schismatic church. But Montanism was, nevertheless, not a new form of Christianity; nor were the Montanists a new sect. On the contrary, Montanism was simply a reaction of the old, the primitive Church against the obvious tendency of the Church of the day, - to strike a bargain with the world, and arrange herself comfortably in it.

W. Möller, "Montanism," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 3. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp.1561-1562.

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Primary Sources

Book or monograph Elsa Gibson, The "Christians for Christians" Inscriptions of Phygia. Missoula: Scholars, 1978. ISBN: 089130262X. pp.161.
Book or monograph Epiphanius, Panarion 48.
Book or monograph Eusebius, Church History 5.3.4; 5.14-18.
Book or monograph Ronald E. Heine, The Montanist Oracles and Testimonia. North American Patristic Society Patristic Monograph Series, 14. Macon: Mercer University Press, 1989. ISBN: 086554333X. Hbk.
Article in Journal or Book W. Tabbernee, "Christian Inscriptions from Phrygia," G.H.R. Horsley, ed., New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity iii. Sydney, 1983. pp.128-39.
Book or monograph Tabberdee: Montanist Inscriptions and TestimoniaWilliam Tabbernee, Montanist Inscriptions and Testimonia: Epigraphic Sources. Mercer University Press, 1997. Pbk. ISBN: 0865545219. pp.722.

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Secondary Sources

On-line Resource J.G.C. Anderson, "Paganism and Christianity in the Upper Tembris Valley," W.M. Ramsay, ed., Studies in the History and Art of the Eastern Provinces of the Roman Empire. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1906. pp.183-227.View in PDF format pdf
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Article in Journal or Book Timothy David Barnes, "The Chronology of Montanism," Journal of Theological Studies, n.s. Vol. 21 (1970): 403-408.
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On-line Resource Charles Bigg [1840-1908], The Origins of Christianity, T.B. Strong, ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909. Hbk. pp.185-196.
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On-line Resource Montanism: Heresy or Healthy Revival? (Robert I. Bradshaw)View in PDF format pdf
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Article in Journal or Book W.M. Calder, "The Epigraphy of the Anatolian Heresies," W.M. Calder & W.H. Buckler, eds., Anatolian Studies Presented to Sir W.M. Ramsey. Manchester, 1923. pp.59-91.
Article in Journal or Book W.M. Calder, "Leaves From an Anatolian Notebook," Bulletin of the John Ryland Library 13 (1929): 254-71.
On-line Resource W.M. Calder, "The New Jerusalem of the Montanists," Byzantion 6 (1931): 421-25.View in PDF format pdf
Article in Journal or Book W.M. Calder, "Early Christian Epigraphs from Phrygia," Anatolian Studies 5 (1955): 25-9.
Article in Journal or Book J.A. Cerrato, "Hippolytus On the Song of Songs and the New Prophecy," Studia Patristica. Proceedings of the the 12th International Congress on Patristic Studies, Oxford 1995. Leuven: Peeters Press.
On-line Resource Montanists (John Chapman)
Book or monograph Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Messianism in the Middle Ages and Its Bearing on Modern Totalitarian Movements. Pimlico, 1993. Pbk. ISBN: 0712656642. pp.496.
Article in Journal or Book R.H. Connelly, OSB, "The Didache and Montanism," Downside Review 55 (1937): 339-47.
Article in Journal or Book Fred C. Conybeare, "The Odes of Solomon: Montanist," Zeitschrift für die neutesamentliche Wissenschaft 12.1 (1911): 70-75.
Book or monograph F.L. Cross, The Early Christian Fathers. Studies in Theology 1. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1960. Hbk. p.102.
Article in Journal or Book A. Daunton-fear, "The Ecstacies of Montanus," E.A. Livingstone, ed., Studia Patristica xviii. Oxford, 1982. pp.648-51.
Article in Journal or Book J.G. Davies, "Tertullian, DE RESURRECTIONE CARNIS LXIII: A Note on the Origins of Montanism," Journal of Theolgical Studies 6 (1955): 90-94.
Article in Journal or Book Nicola Denzey, "What Did the Montanists Read?" Harvard Theological Review 94.4 (2001): 427-448.
Article in Journal or Book Susanna Elm, "Pierced by Bronze Needles: Anti-Montanist Charges of Ritual Stigmatization in Their Fourth-Century Context," Journal of Early Christian Studies 4.4 (1996): 409-439.
Article in Journal or Book R.B. Eno, "Authority and Conflict in the Early Church," Eglise et Théologie 1 (1976): 41-60.
Article in Journal or Book J. Massingberd Ford, "Saint Paul the Philogamist, 1 Cor. 7 in Early Patristic Exegesis," New Testament Studies 11 (1965): 326-48.
Article in Journal or Book J. Massingberd Ford, "Was Montanism a Jewish-Christian Heresy?," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 17 (1966): 145-158.
Article in Journal or Book J. Massingberd Ford, "A Note on Proto Montanism in the Pastoral Epistles," New Testament Studies 17 (1970-1): 338-46.
Article in Journal or Book G. Freeman, "Montanism and the Pagan Cults of Phrygia," Dominican Studies 3 (1950): 297-316.
Article in Journal or Book G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville, "The Date of the Outbreak of Montanism," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 5.1 (1954): 7-15.
Article in Journal or Book W.H.C. Frend, "Note on the Chronology of the Martyrdom of Polycarp and the Outbreak of Montanism," J. Courcelle et al, eds. Oikoumene: Studi Paleocristani. Rome, 1964. pp.499-506.
Article in Journal or Book W.H.C. Frend, "Montanism: Research and Problems," Rivista di Storia a litteratua Religiose (Turin) 20 (1984): 521-537; London: Variorum reprints, 1988.
Article in Journal or Book W.H.C. Frend, "Montanism: A Movement of Prophecy and Regional Identity in the Early Church," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 70 (1988): 25-34.
Article in Journal or Book K. Froehlich, "Montanism and Gnosis," Orientalia Christiana Analecta 195 (1973): 91-111.
On-line Resource Donald Gee, "Montanism," Redemption Tidings. (December, 1928): 5-6.
Article in Journal or Book S. Gero, "Montanus and Montanism according to a Medieval Syriac Source," Journal of Theological Studies 28 (1977): 520-24.
Article in Journal or Book E. Gibson, "Montanist Epitaphs at Usak," Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 16 (1975): 433-42.
Article in Journal or Book E. Gibson, The 'Christians for Christians' Inscriptions of Phrygia. Harvard Theolgical Studies 32. Missoula, MT,1978.
Article in Journal or Book Dennis E. Groh, "Utterance and Exegesis: Biblical Interpretation in the Montanist Crisis," D.E. Groh & R. Jewett, eds. The Living Text: Essays in Honor of Ernest W. Saunders. Lanham: University Press of America, 1985. ISBN: 081914584X. pp.73-95.
Article in Journal or Book Ferguson< ed: Encyclopedia of Early ChristianityDennis E. Groh, "Montanism," Everett Ferguson, ed. Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, 2nd edn. New York: Garland, 1990. Pbk. ISBN: 0815333196. p. 622-623.
Book or monograph C.H.E. Haspels, The Highlands of Phrygia: Sites and Monuments. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971. Hbk. ISBN: 0691038635. pp.462.
Article in Journal or Book Ronald E. Heine, "The Role of the Gospel of John in the Montanist Controversy," The Second Century, Vol. 6 (1987-1988): 1-19.
Book or monograph Ronald E. Heine, The Montanist Oracles and Testimonia. Macon, GA, 1989.
Article in Journal or Book Ronald E. Heine, "The Gospel of John and the Montanist Debate at Rome," E.A. Livingstone, ed., Studia Patristica xxi. Leuve, 1989. pp.95-100.
Article in Journal or Book Ronald E. Heine, "In Search of Origen's Commentary on Philemon," Harvard Theological Review 93.2 (2000): 117-133.
Article in Journal or Book S.E. Johnson, "Unsolved Questions about Early Christianity in Anatolia," in Studies in the New Testament and Early Christian Literature. Leiden: Brill, 1972. pp.181-93.
Article in Journal or Book S.E. Johnson, "Asia Minor and Early Christianity," J. Neusner, ed., Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults. Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity , No 2. Leiden: Brill, 1975. Hbk. ISBN: 9004042172. pp.77-145.
On-line Resource Lucien JinKwang Kim, "Is Montanism a Heretical Sect or Pentecostal Antecedent?" Asian Journal of Pentecostal Studies 12.1 (Jan. 2009): 113-124.View in PDF format pdf
Article in Journal or Book Frederick C. Klawiter, "The Role of Martyrdom and Persection in Developing the Priestly Authority of Women in Early Christianity: a Case Study of Montanism," Church History 49 (1980): 251-61.
On-line Resource Hugh Jackson Lawlor [1860-1938], "The Heresy of the Phrygians," Journal of Theological Studies 9 No 36 July 1908): 481-499.View in PDF format pdf [This material is in the Public Domain]
On-line Resource The Montanists (Roger Pearce)
Article in Journal or Book J. Pelikan, "Montanism and its Trinitarian Significance," Church History 25 (1956): 99-109.
Article in Journal or Book John C. Poirier, "Montanist Pepuza-Jerusalem and the Dwelling Place of Wisdom," Journal of Early Christian Studies 7.4 (1999): 491-507.
On-line Resource Tertullianists and Cataphrygians (Douglas Powell) = Vigiliae Christianae 29 (1975); 33-54.
Article in Journal or Book R. Radar, "The Martyrdom of Perpetua: A Protest Account of Third-Century Christianity," in P. Wilson-Kastner, ed., A Lost Tradition: Women Writers in the Early Church. Washington, DC, 1981. pp.1-17.
On-line Resource Robert Rainy, The Ancient Catholic Church. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1902. Hbk. pp.128-139.
Book or monograph Cecil M. Robeck, Jr., Prophecy in Carthage: Perpetua, Tertullian and Cyprian. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim, 1992. Hbk. ISBN: 0829809244. pp.329.
Article in Journal or Book A. Scharf, "The Jews, the Montanists and Emperor Leo III," Byzantinische Zeitschrift 59 (1966): 37-46.
On-line Resource B. Sherratt, "Montanism," The Pentecostal. Vol. 1, No.1: 27-30.
On-line Resource In the Montanist Controversy, Did the Church Reject Heresy or the Holy Spirit? (James D. Smith III )
On-line Resource John De Soyres, Montanism And The Primitive Church. Cambridge: Deighton, Bell & Co., 1877.View in PDF format pdf
Article in Journal or Book William Tabbernee, "Early Montanism and Voluntary Martyrdom," Colloqium, Vol. 17 (1985): 33-44.
Article in Journal or Book William Tabbernee, "Revelation 21 and the Montanist New Jerusalem," Australian Biblical Review 37 (1989): 52-60.
Article in Journal or Book William Tabbernee, "Remants of the New Prophecy: Literary and Epigraphal Sources of the Montanist Movement," E. Livingstone, ed., Studia Patristica XXI. Leuven, 1989. pp.193-201.
Article in Journal or Book William Tabbernee, "Montanist Regional Bishops: New Evidence from Ancient Inscriptions," Journal of Early Christian Studies 1 (1993): 249-280.
Article in Journal or Book William Tabbernee, "Portals of the Montanist New Jerusalem: The Discovery of Pepouza and Tymion," Journal of Early Christian Studies 11.1 (2003): 87-93.
Article in Journal or Book Christine Trevett, "Prophecy and Anti-Episcopal Activity: A Third Error Combatted by Ignatius?" Journal of Ecclesiastical History 34 (1983): 1-18.
Article in Journal or Book Christine Trevett, "Apocalypse, Ignatius, Montanism: Seeking the Seeds," Vigiliae Christianae 43.4 (1989): 313-338.
Article in Journal or Book Christine Trevett, "Fingers up Noses and Pricking with Needles: Possible Reminiscences of the Revelation in Later Montanism," Vigiliae Christianae 49.3 (1995): 258-269.
Book or monograph Trevett: MontanismChristine Trevett, Montanism: Gender, Authority and the New Prophecy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Hbk. ISBN: 0521411823. pp.313.
Article in Journal or Book F.E. Vokes, "The Opposition to Montanism from Church and State in the Christian Empire," F.L. Cross, ed., Studia Patristica iv. Texte und Untersuchungen 79. Berlin, 1961. pp.512-17.
Article in Journal or Book F.E. Vokes, "Montanism and the Ministry," F.L. Cross, ed., Studia Patristica ix. Texte und Untersuchungen 94. Berlin, 1966. pp.306-15.
Article in Journal or Book F.E. Vokes, "The Use of Scripture in the Montanist Controversy," Studia Evangelica v. Texte und Untersuchungen 103. Berlin, 1968. pp.317-20.
Article in Journal or Book F.E. Vokes, "Penitential Discipline in Montanism," E.A. Livingstone, ed., Studia Patristica xiv. 1976. pp.306-15.
Article in Journal or Book A.F. Walls, "The Montanist Catholic Epistle and its New Testament Prototype," Studia Evangelica iii. Texte und Untersuchungen 88. Berlkin, 1964. pp.436-46.
Article in Journal or Book John S. Whale, "Montanus," Expository Times 45 (1934): 496-500.View in PDF format pdf
Article in Journal or Book D.H. Williams, "The Origins of the Montanist Movement: a Sociological Analysis," Religion 19 (1989): 331-51.
On-line Resource David F. Wright, "Why Were The Montanist-s Condemned?" Themelios. (Sept. 1976): 15-22.
Article in Journal or Book Andrzej Wypustek, "Magic, Montanism, Perpetua, and the Severan Persecution," Vigiliae Christianae 51.3 (1997): 276-297.

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On-line Resource Perpetua and Her Companions, Martyrs At Carthage (James E. Kiefer)

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