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Montanism

1. Called by its followers "the New Prophecy", this movement is known to us as Montanism after its founder Montanus, a convert to Christianity. Around the year 170 he began to proclaim to his fellow believers that he was a prophet, that he was the very mouthpiece of that Spirit which the Lord had promised would "teach all things and guide into all truth" (John 14:26; 16:13). Montanus was soon joined by two women, Priscilla and Maximilla who like him delivered oracles in a state of ecstacy, speaking not in their own persons but in that of the Holy Spirit.

2. Montanus and his companions represented a revival of the apocalyptic spirit and announced the forthcoming end of the world. The Lord was about to return, and the new Jerusalem would be set up in the vicinity of the town of Pepuza in Phrygia. As preparation for the end of all things they purified themselves and cut themselves loose from their attachments to society. The Phrygians, as they were frequently called, fasted longer and more elaborately than other Christians and discouraged marriage.

3. The movement spread with great rapidity and was known in Rome and the West by the end of a decade. Montanism made its most famous convert in the North African Christian writer Tertullian who was attracted by its seriousness and moral rigor. The bishops of Asia Minor eventually held synods to deal with the "Phrygian problem" and in the end condemned the New Prophecy. In remained influential in some regions for quite some time, and was still in existence in North Africa when Augustine came on the scene.


Sources utilized in these pages may include:
  • Everett Ferguson's: Backgrounds of Early Christianity
  • Walker's: History of Christianity (out of print)

    (These links will take you to book detail pages at Amazon.com)

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