Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Montanism in Carthage

Montanism was an early Christian movement of the late 2nd century, later referred to by the name of its founder, Montanus, but originally known by its adherents as the New Prophecy. 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 "Phrygians". It spread rapidly to other regions in the Roman Empire at a time before Christianity was generally tolerated or legal. It persisted in some isolated places into the 6th century.

Although it came to be labelled a heresy, the movement held similar views about the basic tenets of Christian doctrine to those of the wider Christian Church. It was a prophetic movement that 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, the charismatic movement, and the New Apostolic Reformation.

The Three: Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla
Scholars are divided as to when Montanus first began his prophetic activity, having chosen dates varying from c. AD 135 to as late as AD 177.

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 or village so named have been identified, however.

Some accounts claim that before his conversion to Christianity, Montanus was a priest of Apollo or Cybele.

He believed he was a prophet of God and that the Paraclete spoke through him.

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.

He 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.

"The Three" spoke in ecstatic visions and urged their followers to fast and 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 and the daughters of Philip the Evangelist.

In time, the New Prophecy spread from Montanus' native Phrygia across the Christian world, to Africa and Gaul.

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.

The best-known defender of the New Prophecy was undoubtedly Tertullian, who believed that the claims of Montanus were genuine beginning c. 207. 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 a catholic Christian.

Read the entire article from wikipedia.
The article refers frequently to a recent study by
Tabbernee, William (2009), Prophets and Gravestones: An Imaginative History of Montanists and Other Early Christians, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
Tabbernee, William (1997), Montanist Inscriptions and Testimonia: Epigraphic Sources Illustrating the History of Montanism, Patristic Monograph Series, Georgia: Mercer University Press.

There is an interesting and educational article from W.Möller 1894

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.
W. Möller 1894 in Montanus and Montanism

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 1894 in Montanus and Montanism

St Perpetua and St. Felicity
Also this claim calls for further inquiry!
In North Africa the Montanists met with extensive sympathy, as the Punic national character leaned naturally towards gloomy and rigorous acerbity. Two of the most distinguished female martyrs, Perpetua and Felicitas, were addicted to them, and died a heroic death at Carthage in the persecution of Septimius Severus .
Early Church com

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