The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great

By Henry Chadwick | Go to book overview

16 Montanism: Perpetua

Celsus had met extremely enthusiastic Christians given to delivering excitable prophecies 'at the slightest excuse', proclaiming the imminent end of the world (7. 9). Probably in 156 Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna was martyred. His church wrote a moving account of his end, stressing that he was no voluntary martyr, and contrasting him with a Phrygian named Quintus who provoked the authorities. Perhaps Quintus was a Montanist. In Egypt the Coptic churches would suggest that Polycarp's heroism compensated for St John's dying in his bed. 1

In Phrygia (Asia Minor) a major movement of ecstatic prophecy began in either 157 or 172. A leading theme was a special revelation by the Holy Spirit to call the Church away from gnostics and others anxious to reinterpret symbolically the literalist eschatology of resurrection of the flesh and a physical millennium, Phrygia was a region where there had been prophetesses and charismatics especially at Hierapolis and Philadelphia, and so the new movement in Phrygian villages could answer critics by invoking the idea of a legitimating succession. The 'New Prophecy' as it was called by its adherents (Montanists or Kataphrygians to opponents) began with a charismatic ecstasy on the part of Montanus, whom Jerome (ep. 41. 4) claims to have been a converted priest of Cybele (i.e. accustomed to scenes of religious frenzy) together with two women, Prisca and Maximilla, who abandoned their husbands. Critics of the 'New Prophecy' liked to represent it as having pagan origins as well as working with an irrational notion of inspiration as based on suspension of the rational faculty. The inspired oracles of the trio were peculiar in being direct utterances of the Paraclete using their vocal chords as his own. The content was a proclamation of the imminent end, in view of which special fasts were to be observed. The new Jerusalem was to descend from heaven, not indeed in Palestine as was normal millennial expectation e.g. in Justin or Irenaeus, but (with a touch of regional patriotism) in Phrygia. Missionaries from Phrygia spread the message through the empire, reaching Rome, Lyon, and Carthage among other towns. In that

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The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Church in Ancient Society iii
  • Prefatory Note vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The First Followers of Jesus 5
  • 2: The Jewish Matrix 13
  • 3: Jews and Christians Survive Rome's Crushing of Revolts 21
  • 4: The Hebrew Scriptures in the Church 27
  • 5: Interpreting Scripture 32
  • 6: Apostles and Evangelists 43
  • 7: Women Among Jesus' Followers 53
  • 8: 'Barnabas', Jewish Christianity, Trouble at Corinth 56
  • 9: Ignatius of Antioch 65
  • 10: Didache 84
  • 11: Marcion 89
  • 12: Justin 93
  • 13: Irenaeus of Lyon 100
  • 14: The New Testament Text 108
  • 15: Celsus: A Platonist Attack 110
  • 16: Montanism: Perpetua 114
  • 17: Tertullian, Minucius Felix 118
  • 18: Clement of Alexandria 124
  • 19: Julius Africanus 130
  • 20: Hippolytus and Liturgy 132
  • 21: Origen 135
  • 22: Cyprian of Carthage 145
  • 23: Dionysius of Alexandria 161
  • 24: Paul of Samosata 166
  • 25: Mani 170
  • 26: Plotinus, Porphyry 173
  • 27: Diocletian and the Great Persecution; Rise of Constantine 176
  • 28: Constantine 190
  • 29: The Seeds of Reaction 201
  • 30: The Church at Prayer 212
  • 31: Athanasius, Marcellus, and the Gathering Storm 226
  • 32: A Fiasco at Serdica 240
  • 33: Religious Division 254
  • 34: Athanasius' Return 260
  • 35: Constantius' Double Council of Unity 279
  • 36: Julian and the Church 295
  • 37: Damasus, Siricius, Papal Authority, Synesius of Cyrene 314
  • 38: Basil of Caesarea (Cappadocia) 331
  • 39: Ambrose 348
  • 40: Ambrosiaster 379
  • 41: Donatism 382
  • 42: Monks: The Ascetic Life 394
  • 43: Messalians 411
  • 44: Schism at Antioch 415
  • 45: Jerome and Rufinus 433
  • 46: Pelagius, Caelestius, and the Roman See in Gaul and North Africa 446
  • 47: Julian of Eclanum 464
  • 48: Augustine 473
  • 49: John Chrysostom 479
  • 50: Innocent I and John Chrysostom's Honour 499
  • 51: The Christological Debate, I 515
  • 52: The Christological Debate, Ii 538
  • 53: The Christological Debate, Iii 557
  • 54: The Aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon 592
  • 55: Justinian, Origen, and the 'Three Chapters' 612
  • 56: The Ancient Oriental Churches 628
  • 57: The Church and the Barbarian Invasions in the West 633
  • 58: Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) 658
  • 59: Worship After Constantine 675
  • 60: Pilgrims 684
  • 61: Penance 688
  • Further Reading 694
  • Dates of Roman Emperors 714
  • Index 721
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