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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XVI

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XVI.—The Circumstances related of Montanus and his False Prophets. 1568

1. Against the so-called Phrygian 1569 heresy, the power which always contends for the p. 230 truth raised up a strong and invincible weapon, Apolinarius of Hierapolis, whom we have mentioned before, 1570 and with him many other men of ability, by whom abundant material for our history has been left.

2. A certain one of these, in the beginning of his work against them, 1571 first intimates that he had contended with them in oral controversies.

3. He commences his work in this manner: 1572

“Having for a very long and sufficient time, O beloved Avircius Marcellus, 1573 been urged by you to write a treatise against the heresy of those who are called after Miltiades, 1574 I have hesitated till the present time, not through lack of ability to refute the falsehood or bear testimony for the truth, but from fear and apprehension that I might seem to some to be making additions to the doctrines or precepts of the Gospel of the New Testament, which it is impossible for one who has chosen to live according to the Gospel, either to increase or to diminish.

4. But being recently in Ancyra 1575 in Galatia, I found the church there 1576 greatly agitated by this novelty, not prophecy, as they call it, but rather false prophecy, as will be shown. Therefore, to the best of our ability, with the Lord’s help, we disputed in the church many days concerning these and other matters separately brought forward by them, so that the church rejoiced and was strengthened in the truth, and those of the opposite side were for the time confounded, and the adversaries were grieved.

5. The presbyters in the place, our fellow-presbyter Zoticus 1577 of Otrous also being present, requested us to leave a record of what had been said against the opposers of the truth. We did not do this, but we promised to write it out as soon as the Lord permitted us, and to send it to them speedily.”

p. 231 6. Having said this with other things, in the beginning of his work, he proceeds to state the cause of the above-mentioned heresy as follows:

“Their opposition and their recent heresy which has separated them from the Church arose on the following account.

7. There is said to be a certain village called Ardabau in that part of Mysia, which borders upon Phrygia. 1578 There first, they say, when Gratus was proconsul of Asia, 1579 a recent convert, Montanus by name, through his unquenchable desire for leadership, 1580 gave the adversary opportunity against him. And he became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning. 1581

8. Some of those who heard his spurious utterances at that time were indignant, and they rebuked him as one that was possessed, and that was under the control of a demon, and was led by a deceitful spirit, and was distracting the multitude; and they forbade him to talk, remembering the distinction 1582 drawn by the Lord and his warning to guard watchfully against the coming of false prophets. 1583 But others imagining themselves possessed of the Holy Spirit and of a prophetic gift, 1584 were elated and not a little puffed up; and forgetting the distinction of the Lord, they challenged the mad and insidious and seducing spirit, and were cheated and deceived by him. In consequence of this, he could no longer be held in check, so as to keep silence.

9. Thus by artifice, or rather by such a system of wicked craft, the devil, devising destruction for the disobedient, and being unworthily honored by them, secretly excited and inflamed their understandings which had already become estranged from the true faith. And he stirred up besides two women, 1585 and filled them with the false spirit, so that they talked wildly and unreasonably and strangely, like the person already mentioned. 1586 And the spirit pronounced them blessed as they rejoiced and gloried in him, and puffed them up by the magnitude of his promises. But sometimes he rebuked them openly in a wise and p. 232 faithful manner, that he might seem to be a reprover. But those of the Phrygians that were deceived were few in number.

“And the arrogant spirit taught them to revile the entire universal Church under heaven, because the spirit of false prophecy received neither honor from it nor entrance into it.

10. For the faithful in Asia met often in many places throughout Asia to consider this matter, 1587 and examined the novel utterances and pronounced them profane, and rejected the heresy, and thus these persons were expelled from the Church and debarred from communion.”

11. Having related these things at the outset, and continued the refutation of their delusion through his entire work, in the second book he speaks as follows of their end:

12. “Since, therefore, they called us slayers of the prophets 1588 because we did not receive their loquacious prophets, who, they say, are those that the Lord promised to send to the people, 1589 let them answer as in God’s presence: Who is there, O friends, of these who began to talk, from Montanus and the women down, that was persecuted by the Jews, or slain by lawless men? None. Or has any of them been seized and crucified for the Name? Truly not. Or has one of these women ever been scourged in the synagogues of the Jews, or stoned? No; never anywhere. 1590

13. But by another kind of death Montanus and Maximilla are said to have died. For the report is that, incited by the spirit of frenzy, they both hung themselves; 1591 not at the same time, but at the time which common report gives for the death of each. And thus they died, and ended their lives like the traitor Judas.

14. So also, as general report says, that remarkable person, the first steward, 1592 as it were, of their so-called prophecy, one Theodotus—who, as if at sometime taken up and received into heaven, fell into trances, and entrusted himself to the deceitful spirit—was pitched like a quoit, and died miserably. 1593

15. They say that these things happened in this manner. But as we did not see them, O friend, we do not pretend to know. Perhaps in such a manner, perhaps not, Montanus and Theodotus and the above-mentioned woman died.”

16. He says again in the same book that the holy bishops of that time attempted to refute the spirit in Maximilla, but were prevented by others who plainly co-operated with the spirit.

17. He writes as follows:

“And let not the spirit, in the same work of Asterius Urbanus, 1594 say through Maximilla, ‘I am driven away from the sheep like a wolf. 1595 I am not a wolf. I am word and spirit and power.’ But let him show clearly and prove the power in the spirit. And by the spirit let him compel those to confess him who were then present for the purpose of proving and reasoning with the talkative spirit,—those eminent men p. 233 and bishops, Zoticus, 1596 from the village Comana, and Julian, 1597 from Apamea, whose mouths the followers of Themiso 1598 muzzled, refusing to permit the false and seductive spirit to be refuted by them.”

18. Again in the same work, after saying other things in refutation of the false prophecies of Maximilla, he indicates the time when he wrote these accounts, and mentions her predictions in which she prophesied wars and anarchy. Their falsehood he censures in the following manner:

19. “And has not this been shown clearly to be false? For it is to-day more than thirteen years since the woman died, and there has been neither a partial nor general war in the world; but rather, through the mercy of God, continued peace even to the Christians.” 1599 These things are taken from the second book.

20. I will add also short extracts from the third book, in which he speaks thus against their boasts that many of them had suffered martyrdom:

“When therefore they are at a loss, being refuted in all that they say, they try to take refuge in their martyrs, alleging that they have many martyrs, and that this is sure evidence of the power of the so-called prophetic spirit that is with them. But this, as it appears, is entirely fallacious. 1600

21. For some of the heresies have a great many martyrs; but surely we shall not on that account agree with them or confess that they hold the truth. And first, indeed, those called Marcionites, from the heresy of Marcion, say that they have a multitude of martyrs for Christ; yet they do not confess Christ himself in truth.”

A little farther on he continues:

22. “When those called to martyrdom from the Church for the truth of the faith have met with any of the so-called martyrs of the Phrygian heresy, they have separated from them, and died without any fellowship with them, 1601 because they did not wish to give their assent to the spirit of Montanus and the women. And that this is true and took place in our own time in Apamea on the Mæander, 1602 among those who suffered martyrdom with Gaius and Alexander of Eumenia, is well known.”



Montanism must not be looked upon as a heresy in the ordinary sense of the term. The movement lay in the sphere of life and discipline rather than in that of theology. Its fundamental proposition was the continuance of divine revelation which was begun under the old Dispensation, was carried on in the time of Christ and his apostles, and reached its highest development under the dispensation of the Paraclete, which opened with the activity of Montanus. This Montanus was a Phrygian, who, in the latter part of the second century, began to fall into states of ecstasy and to have visions, and believed himself a divinely inspired prophet, through whom the promised Paraclete spoke, and with whom therefore the dispensation of that Paraclete began. Two noble ladies (Priscilla and Maximilla) attached themselves to Montanus, and had visions and prophesied in the same way. These constituted the three original prophets of the sect, and all that they taught was claimed to be of binding authority on all. They were quite orthodox, accepted fully the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church, and did not pretend to alter in any way the revelation given by Christ and his apostles. But they claimed that some things had not been revealed by them, because at that early stage the Church was not able to bear them; but that such additional revelations were now given, because the fullness of time had come which was to precede the second coming of Christ. These revelations had to do not at all with theology, but wholly with matters of life and discipline. They taught a rigid asceticism over against the growing worldliness of the Church, severe discipline over against its laxer methods, and finally the universal priesthood of believers (even female), and their right to perform all the functions of church officers, over against the growing sacerdotalism of the Church. They were thus in a sense reformers, or perhaps reactionaries is a better term, who wished to bring back, or to preserve against corruption, the original principles and methods of the Church. They aimed at a puritanic reaction against worldliness, and of a democratic reaction against growing aristocracy in the Church. They insisted that ministers were made by God alone, by the direct endowment of his Spirit in distinction from human ordination. They looked upon their prophets—supernaturally called and endowed by the Spirit—as supreme in the Church. They claimed that all gross offenders should be excommunicated, and that neither they nor the lax should ever be re-admitted to the Church. They encouraged celibacy, increased the number and severity of fasts, eschewed worldly amusements, &c. This rigid asceticism was enjoined by the revelation of the Spirit through their prophets, and was promoted by their belief in the speedy coming of Christ to set up his kingdom on earth, which was likewise prophesied. They were thus pre-Millenarians or Chiliasts.

The movement spread rapidly in Asia Minor and in North Africa, and for a time in Rome itself. It appealed very powerfully to the sterner moralists, stricter disciplinarians, and more deeply pious minds among the Christians. All the puritanically inclined schisms of this period attracted many of the better class of Christians, and this one had the additional advantage of claiming the authority of divine revelation for its strict principles. The greatest convert was Tertullian, who, in 201 or 202, attracted by the asceticism and disciplinary rigor of the sect, attached himself to it, and remained until his death its most powerful advocate. He seems to have stood at the head of a separatist congregation of Montanists in Carthage, and yet never to have been excommunicated by the Catholic Church. Montanism made so much stir in Asia Minor that synods were called before the end of the second century to consider the matter, and finally, though not without hesitation, the whole movement was officially condemned. Later, the condemnation was ratified in Rome and also in North Africa, and Montanism gradually degenerated, and finally, after two or three centuries, entirely disappeared.

But although it failed and passed away, Montanism had a marked influence on the development of the Church. In the first place, it aroused a general distrust of prophecy, and the result was that the Church soon came to the conviction that prophecy had entirely ceased. In the second place, the Church was led to see the necessity of emphasizing the historical Christ and historical Christianity over against the Montanistic claims of a constantly developing revelation, and thus to put great emphasis upon the Scripture canon. In the third place, the Church had to lay increased stress upon the organization—upon its appointed and ordained officers—over against the claims of irregular prophets who might at any time arise as organs of the Spirit. The development of Christianity into a religion of the book and of the organization was thus greatly advanced, and the line began to be sharply drawn between the age of the apostles, in which there had been direct supernatural revelations, and the later age, in which such revelations had disappeared. We are, undoubtedly, to date from this time that exalted conception of the glory of the apostolic age, and of its absolute separation from all subsequent ages, which marks so strongly the Church of succeeding centuries, and which led men to endeavor to gain apostolic authority for every advance in the constitution, in the customs, and in the doctrine of the Church. There had been little of this feeling before, but now it became universal, and it explains the great number of pseudo-apostolic works of the third and following centuries. In the fourth place, the Chiliastic ideas of Montanism produced a reaction in the Church which caused the final rejection of all grossly physical Premillenarian beliefs which up to this time had been very common. For further particulars in regard to Montanism, see the notes on this and the following chapters.

Our chief sources for a knowledge of Montanism are to be found in the writings of Tertullian. See, also, Epiphanius, Hær. XLVIII. and XLIX., and Jerome’s Epistle to Marcella (Migne, Ep. 41). The fragments from the anonymous anti-Montanistic writer quoted by Eusebius in this and the following chapter, and the fragments of Apollonius’ work, quoted in chap. 18, are of the greatest importance. It is to be regretted that Eusebius has preserved for us no fragments of the anti-Montanistic writings of Apolinarius and Melito, who might have given us still earlier and more trustworthy accounts of the sect. It is probable that their works were not decided enough in their opposition to Montanism to suit Eusebius, who, therefore, chose to take his account from somewhat later, but certainly bitter enough antagonists. The works of the Montanists themselves (except those of Tertullian) have entirely perished, but a few “Oracles,” or prophetic utterances, of Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla, have been preserved by Tertullian and other writers, and are printed by Bonwetsch, p. 197–200. The literature upon Montanism is very extensive. We may mention here C. W. F. Walch’s Ketzerhistorie, I. p. 611–666, A. Schwegler’s Der Montanismus und die christliche Kirche des zweiten Jahrh. (Tübingen, 1841), and especially G. N. Bonwetzsch’s Die Geschichte des Montanismus (Erlangen, 1881), which is the best work on the subject, and indispensable to the student. Compare, also, Schaff’s Ch. Hist. II. p. 415 sq., where the literature is given with great fullness, Salmon’s article in the Dict. of Christ. Biog., and especially Harnack’s Dogmengeschichte, I. p. 319 sq.


τὴν λεγομένην κατὰ Φρύγας αἵρεσιν. The heresy of Montanus was commonly called the Phrygian heresy because it took its rise in Phrygia. The Latins, by a solecism, called it the Cataphrygian heresy. Its followers received other names also, e.g. Priscillianists (from the prophetess Priscilla), and Pepuziani (from Pepuza, their headquarters). They called themselves πνευματικοί (spiritual), and the adherents of the Church ψυχιχοί (carnal).


In Bk. IV. chaps. 21, 26 and 27, and in Bk. V. chap. 5. See especially Bk. IV. chap. 27, note 1.


The author of this work is unknown. Jerome (de vir. ill. 37) ascribes it to Rhodo (but see above, chap. 13, note 1). It is sometimes ascribed to Asterius Urbanus, mentioned by Eusebius in §17 below, but he was certainly not its author (see below, note 27). Upon the date of the work, see below, note 32.


The fragments of this anonymous work are given by Routh, Rel. Sac. Vol. II. p. 183 sqq., and in English in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII. p. 335 sqq.


Αουίρκιε, as most of the mss. read. Others have Αυίρκιε or Αβίρκιε; Nicephorus, Αβέρκιε. The name is quite commonly written Abercius in English, and the person mentioned here is identified by many scholars (among them Lightfoot) with Abercius, a prominent bishop of Hieropolis (not Hierapolis, as was formerly supposed). A spurious Life of S. Abercius is given by Simeon Metaphrastes (in Migne’s Patr. Gr. CXV. 1211 sq.), which, although of a decidedly legendary character, rests upon a groundwork of fact as proved by the discovery, in recent years of an epitaph from Abercius’ tomb. This Abercius was bishop in the time of Marcus Aurelius, and therefore must have held office at least twelve or fifteen years (on the date of this anonymous treatise, see below, note 32), or, if the date given by the spurious Acts for Abercius’ visit to Rome be accepted (163 a.d.), at least thirty years. On Abercius and Avercius, see the exhaustive note of Lightfoot, in his Apostolic Fathers, Part II. (Ignatius and Polycarp), Vol. I. p. 477–485.


εἰς τὴν τῶν κατὰ Μιλτι€δην λεγομένων αἵρεσιν. The occurrence of the name Miltiades, in this connection, is very puzzling, for we nowhere else hear of a Montanist Miltiades, while the man referred to here must have held a very prominent place among them. It is true that it is commonly supposed that the Muratorian Canon refers to some heretic Miltiades, but since Harnack’s discussion of the matter (see especially his Texte und Untersuchungen, I. 1, p. 216, note) it is more than doubtful whether a Miltiades is mentioned at all in that document. In any case the prominent position given him here is surprising, and, as a consequence, Valesius (in his notes), Stroth, Zimmermann, Schwegler, Laemmer, and Heinichen substitute Αλκιβι€δην (who is mentioned in chap. 3 as a prominent Montanist) for Μιλτι€δην. The mss., however, are unanimous in reading Μιλτι€δην; and it is impossible to see how, if Αλκιβι€δην had originally stood in the text, Μιλτι€δην could have been substituted for it. It is not impossible that instead of Alcibiades in chap. 3 we should read, as Salmon suggests, Miltiades. The occurrence of the name Alcibiades in the previous sentence might explain its substitution for Miltiades immediately afterward. It is at least easier to account for that change than for the change of Alcibiades to Miltiades in the present chapter. Were Salmon’s suggestion accepted, the difficulty in this case would be obviated, for we should then have a Montanist Miltiades of sufficient prominence to justify the naming of the sect after him in some quarters. The suggestion, however, rests upon mere conjecture, and it is safer to retain the reading of our mss. in both cases. Until we get more light from some quarter we must be content to let the matter rest, leaving the reason for the use of Miltiades’ name in this connection unexplained. There is, of course, nothing strange in the existence of a Montanist named Miltiades; it is only the great prominence given him here which puzzles us. Upon the ecclesiastical writer, Miltiades, and Eusebius’ confusion of him with Alcibiades, see chap. 17, note 1.


Ancyra was the metropolis and one of the three principal cities of Galatia. Quite an important town, Angora, now occupies its site.


κατὰ τόπον, which is the reading of two of the mss. and Nicephorus, and is adopted by Burton and Heinichen. The phrase seems harsh, but occurs again in the next paragraph. The majority of the mss. read κατὰ Πόντον, which is adopted by Valesius, Schwegler, Laemmer, and Crusè. It is grammatically the easier reading, but the reference to Pontus is unnatural in this connection, and in view of the occurrence of the same phrase, κατὰ τόπον, in the next paragraph, it seems best to read thus in the present case as well.


Of this Zoticus we know only what is told us here. He is to be distinguished, of course, from Zoticus of Comana, mentioned in §17, below, and in chap. 18, §13.

Otrous (or Otrys, as it is sometimes written) was a small Phrygian town about two miles from Hieropolis (see W. H. Ramsay’s paper, entitled Trois Villes Phrygiennes, in the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellenique, Juillet, 1882). Its bishop was present at the Council of Chalcedon, and also at the second Council of Nicæa (see Wiltsch’s Geography and Statistics of the Church). We may gather from this passage that the anonymous author of this anti-Montanistic work was a presbyter (he calls Zoticus συμπρεσβύτερος), but we have no hint of his own city, though the fact that Avircius Marcellus, to whom the work was addressed, was from Hieropolis (see note 6), and that the anonymous companion Zoticus was from Otrous, would lead us to look in that neighborhood for the home of our author, though hardly to either of those towns (the mention of the name of the town in connection with Zoticus’ name would seem to shut out the latter, and the opening sentences of the treatise would seem to exclude the former).


ν τῇ κατὰ τὴν Φρυγίαν Μυσί& 139·. It is not said here that Montanus was born in Ardabau, but it is natural to conclude that he was, and so that village is commonly given as his birthplace. As we learn from this passage, Ardabau was not in Phrygia, as is often said, but in Mysia. The boundary line between the two districts was a very indefinite one, however, and the two were often confounded by the ancients themselves; but we cannot doubt in the present instance that the very exact statement of the anonymous writer is correct. Of the village of Ardabau itself we know nothing.


The exact date of the rise of Montanism cannot be determined. The reports which we have of the movement vary greatly in their chronology. We have no means of fixing the date of the proconsulship of the Gratus referred to here, and thus the most exact and reliable statement which we have does not help us. In his Chron. Eusebius fixes the rise of the movement in the year 172, and it is possible that this statement was based upon a knowledge of the time of Gratus’ proconsulship. If so, it possesses considerable weight. The first notice we have of a knowledge of the movement in the West is in connection with the martyrs of Lyons, who in the year 177 (see Introd. to this book, note 3) were solicited to use their influence with the bishop of Rome in favor of the Montanists (see above, chap. 3, note 6). This goes to confirm the approximate accuracy of the date given by Eusebius, for we should expect that the movement cannot have attracted public notice in the East very many years before it was heard of in Gaul, the home of many Christians from Asia Minor. Epiphanius (Hær. XLVIII.) gives the nineteenth year of Antoninus Pius (156–157) as the date of its beginning, but Epiphanius’ figures are very confused and contradictory, and little reliance can be placed upon them in this connection. At the same time Montanus must have begun his prophesying some years before his teaching spread over Asia Minor and began to agitate the churches and alarm the bishops, and therefore it is probable that Montanism had a beginning some years before the date given by Eusebius; in fact, it is not impossible that Montanus may have begun his work before the end of the reign of Antoninus Pius.


Ambition was almost universally looked upon by the Church Fathers as the occasion of the various heresies and schisms. Novatian, Donatus, and many others were accused of it by their orthodox opponents. That heretics or schismatics could be actuated by high and noble motives was to them inconceivable. We are thus furnished another illustration of their utter misconception of the nature of heresy so often referred to in these notes.


The fault found by the Church with Montanus’ prophecy was rather because of its form than because of its substance. It was admitted that the prophecies contained much that was true, but the soberer sense of the Church at large objected decidedly to the frenzied ecstasy in which they were delivered. That a change had come over the Church in this respect since the apostolic age is perfectly clear. In Paul’s time the speaking with tongues, which involved a similar kind of ecstasy, was very common; so, too, at the time the Didache was written the prophets spoke in an ecstasy (ν πνεύματι, which can mean nothing else; cf. Harnack’s edition, p. 122 sq.). But the early enthusiasm of the Church had largely passed away by the middle of the second century; and though there were still prophets (Justin, for instance, and even Clement of Alexandria knew of them), they were not in general characterized by the same ecstatic and frenzied utterance that marked their predecessors. To say that there were none such at this time would be rash; but it is plain that they had become so decidedly the exception that the revival by the Montanists of the old method on a large scale and in its extremest form could appear to the Church at large only a decided innovation. Prophecy in itself was nothing strange to them, but prophecy in this form they were not accustomed to, and did not realize that it was but a revival of the ancient form (cf. the words of our author, who is evidently quite ignorant of that form). That they should be shocked at it is not to be wondered at, and that they should, in that age, when all such manifestations were looked upon as supernatural in their origin, regard these prophets as under the influence of Satan, is no more surprising. There was no other alternative in their minds. Either the prophecies were from God or from Satan; not their content mainly, but the manner in which they were delivered aroused the suspicion of the bishops and other leaders of the Church. Add to that the fact that these prophets claimed supremacy over the constituted Church authorities, claimed that the Church must be guided by the revelations vouchsafed to women and apparently half-crazy enthusiasts and fanatics, and it will be seen at once that there was nothing left for the leaders of the Church but to condemn the movement, and pronounce its prophecy a fraud and a work of the Evil One. That all prophecy should, as a consequence, fall into discredit was natural. Clement (Strom. I. 17) gives the speaking in an ecstasy as one of the marks of a false prophet,—Montanism had evidently brought the Church to distinct consciousness on that point,—while Origen, some decades later, is no longer acquainted with prophets, and denies that they existed even in the time of Celsus (see Contra Cels. VII. 11).


i.e. between true and false prophets.


Cf. Matt. vii. 15.


ς ἁγί& 251· πνεύματι καὶ προφητικῷ χαρίσματι


Maximilla and Priscilla, or Prisca (mentioned in chap. 14). They were married women, who left their husbands to become disciples of Montanus, were given the rank of virgins in his church, and with him were the greatest prophets of the sect. They were regarded with the most profound reverence by all Montanists, who in many quarters were called after the name of the latter, Priscillianists. It was a characteristic of the Montanists that they insisted upon the religious equality of men and women; that they accorded just as high honor to the women as to the men, and listened to their prophecies with the same reverence. The human person was but an instrument of the Spirit, according to their view, and hence a woman might be chosen by the Spirit as his instrument just as well as a man, the ignorant just as well as the learned. Tertullian, for instance, cites, in support of his doctrine of the materiality of the soul, a vision seen by one of the female members of his church, whom he believed to be in the habit of receiving revelations from God (de anima, 9).


i.e. Montanus.


That synods should early be held to consider the subject Montanism is not at all surprising. Doubtless our author is quite correct in asserting that many such met during these years. They were probably all of them small, and only local in their character. We do not know the places or the dates of any of these synods, although the Libellus Synodicus states that one was held at Hierapolis under Apolinarius, with twenty-six bishops in attendance, and another at Anchialus under Sotas, with twelve bishops present. The authority for these synods is too late to be of much weight, and the report is just such as we should expect to have arisen upon the basis of the account of Montanism given in this chapter. It is possible, therefore, that synods were held in those two cities, but more than that cannot be said. Upon these synods, see Hefele (Conciliengesch. I. p. 83 sq.), who accepts the report of the Libellus Synodicus as trustworthy.


Cf. the complaint of Maximilla, quoted in §17, below. The words are employed, of course, only in the figurative sense to indicate the hostility of the Church toward the Montanists. The Church, of course, had at that time no power to put heretics to death, even if it had wished to do so. The first instance of the punishment of heresy by death occurred in 385, when the Spanish bishop Priscillian and six companions were executed at Trêves.


Cf. Matt. xxiii. 34.


There is a flat contradiction between this passage and §21, below, where it is admitted by this same author that the Montanists have had their martyrs. The sweeping statements here, considered in the light of the admission made in the other passage, furnish us with a criterion of the trustworthiness and honesty of the reports of our anonymous author. It is plain that, in his hostility to Montanism, he has no regard whatever for the truth; that his aim is to paint the heretics as black as possible, even if he is obliged to misrepresent the facts. We might, from the general tone of the fragment which Eusebius has preserved, imagine this to be so: the present passage proves it. We know, indeed, that the Montanists had many martyrs and that their principles were such as to lead them to martyrdom, even when the Catholics avoided it (cf. Tertullian’s De fuga in persecutione).


Whether this story is an invention of our author’s, or whether it was already in circulation, as he says, we cannot tell. Its utter worthlessness needs no demonstration. Even our anonymous author does not venture to call it certain.


πίτροπος: a steward, or administrator of funds. The existence of such an officer shows that the Montanists formed a compact organization at an early date, and that much stress was laid upon it (cf. chap. 18, §2). According to Jerome (Ep. ad Marcellam; Migne, Ep. XLI. 3) the Montanists at Pepuza had three classes of officers: first, Patriarchs; second, Cenonæ; third, Bishops (Habent enim primos de Pepusa Phrygiæ Patriarchas: secundos, quos appellant Cenonas: atque ita in tertium, id est, pene ultimum locum Episcopi devolvuntur). The peculiar word Cenonas occurs nowhere else, so far as I am aware, but its meaning is plain enough. Whether it is merely a reproduction of the Greek οἰκονομοι (“administrators”), or whether it is a Latin word connected with cœna, in either case the officers designated by it were economic officers, and thus performed the same class of duties as this πίτροπος, Theodotus. The reliability of Jerome’s report is confirmed by its agreement in this point with the account of the Anonymous. Of Theodotus himself (to be distinguished, of course, from the two Theodoti mentioned in chap. 28) we know only what is told us in this chapter and in chap. 3, above. It is plain that he was a prominent man among the early Montanists.


The reference here seems to be to a death like that recorded by a common tradition of Simon Magus, who by the help of demons undertook to fly up to heaven, but when in mid air fell and was killed. Whether the report in regard to Theodotus was in any way connected with the tradition of Simon’s death we cannot tell, though our author can hardly have thought of it, or he would certainly have likened Theodotus’ fate to that of the arch-heretic Simon, as he likened the fate of Montanus and Maximilla to that of Judas. Whatever the exact form of death referred to, there is of course no more confidence to be placed in this report than in the preceding one.


Of this Asterius Urbanus we know only what we can gather from this reference to him. Valesius, Tillemont, and others supposed that the words ν τῷ αὐτῷ λόγῳ τῷ κατὰ ᾽Αστέριον Οὐρβανόν were a scholium written on the margin of his copy by Eusebius himself or some ancient commentator to indicate the authorship of the anonymous work from which the fragments in this chapter are taken (and so in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII., these fragments are given as from the work of Asterius Urbanus). But Eusebius himself evidently did not know the author, and it is at any rate much easier to suppose the words a part of the text, and the work of Asterius a work which our anonymous author has been discussing and from which he quotes the words of Maximilla, just below. Accepting this most natural interpretation of the words, we learn that Asterius Urbanus was a Montanist who had written a work in defense of that sect.


Cf. note 21, above.


Of this Bishop Zoticus we know only what is told us here and in chap. 18, §13. On the proposed identification of Zoticus and Sotas, bishop of Anchialus, see chap. 19, note 10.

Comana (Κομ€νης, according to most of the mss. and editors; Κουμ€νης, according to a few of the mss. followed by Laemmer and Heinichen) was a village of Pamphylia, and is to be distinguished from Comana in Pontus and from Comana in Cappadocia (Armenia), both of which were populous and important cities.


Of this Julian we know nothing more. His city was Apamea Cibotus or Ciboti, which, according to Wiltsch, was a small town on Mount Signia in Pisidia, to be distinguished from the important Phrygian Apamea Cibotus on the Mæander. Whether Wiltsch has good grounds for this distinction I am unable to say. It would certainly seem natural to think in the present case of Apamea on the Mæander, inasmuch as it is spoken of without any qualifying phrase, as if there could be no doubt about its identity.


Themiso is mentioned again in chap. 18 as a confessor, and as the author of a catholic epistle. It is plain that he was a prominent man among the Montanists in the time of our anonymous author, that is, after the death of Montanus himself; and it is quite likely that he was, as Salmon suggests, the head of the sect.


This gives us a clear indication of the date of the composition of this anonymous work. The thirteen years must fall either before the wars which began in the reign of Septimius Severus, or after their completion. The earliest possible date in the latter case is 232, and this is certainly much too late for the composition of this work, which speaks of Montanism more than once as a recent thing, and which it seems clear from other indications belongs rather to the earlier period of the movement. If we put its composition before those wars, we cannot place it later than 192, the close of the reign of Commodus. This would push the date of Maximilla’s death back to 179, which though it seems rather early, is not at all impossible. The period from about 179 to 192 might very well be called a time of peace by the Christians; for no serious wars occurred during that interval, and we know that the Christians were left comparatively undisturbed throughout the reign of Commodus.


Our author tacitly admits in this paragraph, what he has denied in §12, above, that the Montanists had martyrs among their number; and having admitted it, he endeavors to explain away its force. In the previous paragraph he had claimed that the lack of martyrs among them proved that they were heretics; here he claims that the existence of such martyrs does not in any way argue for their orthodoxy. The inconsistency is glaringly apparent (cf. the remarks made in note 23, above).


This shows the bitterness of the hostility of the Catholics toward the Montanists. That even when suffering together for the one Lord they could not recognize these brethren seems very sad, and it is not to be wondered at that the Montanists felt themselves badly used, and looked upon the Catholics as “slayers of the prophets,” &c. More uncompromising enmity than this we can hardly imagine. That the Catholics, however, were sincere in their treatment of the Montanists, we cannot doubt. It is clear that they firmly believed that association with them meant association with the devil, and hence the deeper their devotion to Christ, the deeper must be their abhorrence of these instruments of Satan. Compare, for instance, Polycarp’s words to Marcion, quoted in Bk. IV. chap. 14, above. The attitude of these Catholic martyrs is but of a piece with that of nearly all the orthodox Fathers toward heresy. It only shows itself here in its extremest form.


Apamea Cibotus in Eastern Phrygia, a large and important commercial center. Of the two martyrs, Gaius and Alexander, we know only what is told us here. They were apparently both of them from Eumenia, a Phrygian town lying a short distance north of Apamea. We have no means of fixing the date of the martyrdoms referred to here, but it seems natural to assign them to the reign of Marcus Aurelius, after Montanism had become somewhat widespread, and when martyrdoms were a common thing both in the East and West. Thraseas, bishop of Eumenia, is referred to as a martyr by Polycrates in chap. 24, but he can hardly have suffered with the ones referred to here, or his name would have been mentioned instead of the more obscure names of Gaius and Alexander.

Next: Chapter XVII

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