Ancient & Medieval References To Montanism
Edited By Daniel R. Jennings, M.A.
Modern Christians will occasionally hear reference made to an ancient group known as the Montanists. Oftentimes this group is presented as a true Christian group who was persecuted by the established church for their belief in the continual operation of the gifts of the Spirit. Most modern books written upon a popular level dealing with the Montanists adhere to this position. Virtually everything that we know regarding the Montanists comes from ancient Christian references to them and rather than trust a modern account a reader must return to the original sources in order to fully understand who this group was and to see if the modern claims are indeed accurate. This page incorporates references to Montanism made by ancient Christian writers from the second to the twelfth centuries. It is hoped that by giving the reader original documents relating to this group that they will be better able to form a correct opinion as to the orthodoxy or unorthodoxy of the Montanists. Click on either an ancient writer below or scroll down. Also, don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom or click here for some Final Thoughts: Montanist Myths And Realities.
“I am the Lord God All-powerful dwelling in a man.” (In Epiphanius of Salamis’ Medicine-Chest (Panarion), 48:11)
“I am neither an angel nor an emissary, but I, the Lord God, the Father, have come.” (In Epiphanius of Salamis’ Medicine-Chest (Panarion), 48:11)
“I am the Father and the Son and the Paraclete.” (In Didymus The Blind’s On The Trinity, 3:41)
“Why do you say 'the superman who is saved'? Because the righteous man will shine a hundred times brighter than the sun, and even the little ones among you who are saved, a hundred times brighter than moon.” (In Epiphanius of Salamis’ Medicine-Chest (Panarion), 48:10)
“Observe, man is like a lyre, and I hover over him as a pick; the man sleeps but I watch. Take note, the Lord distracts the hearts of men and gives them hearts.” (In Epiphanius of Salamis’ Medicine-Chest (Panarion), 48:4)
“The Christ has one nature, a sole energy, before [coming in] the flesh and after putting on the flesh, so that he does not become different when he does dissimilar and different things.” (Fragment from The Odes Of Montanus*)
“[When I die I must be buried fifty cubits underground] because the fire that is coming upon the whole earth will devour me [if I am not buried that deep].” (In Michael the Syrian’s Chronicle, 9:33)
* See the seventh volume of Angelo Mai's Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio, p.69, where this is extracted from a patristics catena on the Incarnation.
Maximilla (2nd Century)
“After me there will be no more prophecy, but the consummation.” (In Epiphanius of Salamis’ Medicine-Chest (Panarion), 48:2)
am driven away from the sheep like a wolf. I am not a wolf. I am word and
spirit and power.’” (In Eusebius of
“Do not listen to me, but instead listen to Christ.” (In Epiphanius of Salamis’ Medicine-Chest (Panarion), 48:12 )
“The Lord sent me as a supporter of this task, forced to do it, whether I want to or not, to be a revealer of this covenant, an interpreter of this promise, and to impart the knowledge of God.” (In Epiphanius of Salamis’ Medicine-Chest (Panarion), 48:13)
Prisca/Priscilla (2nd Century)
“For purity is harmonious, and they see visions; and, turning their face downward, they even hear manifest voices, as salutary as they are withal secret.” (In Tertullian’s Exhortation To Chastity, 10)
“They are carnal, and yet they hate the flesh.” (In Tertullian’s On The Resurrection Of The Flesh, 11)
“Christ came to me [while
I slept] appearing as a woman clothed in a shining robe. He put wisdom into
me and revealed to me that this place is holy and that
*Epiphanius indicates that he is not sure whether this prophecy came from Prisca or another Montanist named Quintilla.
Anonymous Montanistic Prophetical Utterances And Statements (2nd-3rd Centuries)
“If you are exposed to public infamy it is for your good; for he who is not exposed to dishonor among men is sure to be so before the Lord. Do not be ashamed; righteousness brings you forth into the public gaze. Why should you be ashamed of gaining glory? The opportunity is given you when you are before the eyes of men.” (In Tertullian’s On Flight In Persecution, 9)
“Seek not to die on bridal beds, nor in miscarriages, nor in soft fevers, but to die the martyr’s death, that He may be glorified who has suffered for you.” (In Tertullian’s On Flight In Persecution, 9)
“For God sent forth the Word just as the root puts forth the tree, and the fountain the river, and the sun the ray.” (In Tertullian’s Against Praxeas, 8)
“The Church has the power to forgive sins; but I will not do it, lest they commit others withal.” (In Tertullian’s On Modesty, 21)
“Amongst other things there has been shown to me a soul in bodily shape, and a spirit has been in the habit of appearing to me; not, however, a void and empty illusion, but such as would offer itself to be even grasped by the hand, soft and transparent and of an ethereal color, and in form resembling that of a human being in every respect.” (In Tertullian’s A Treatise On The Soul, 9)
“But [as a Scriptural proof that the Paraclete would come as he has in the person of Montanus we would like to remind you that] Christ said: ‘I have many things to tell you, but you can not bear them now. But when the Spirit of truth comes’ and again: ‘It is not in his name that he speaks, but it is my will that he will announce,’ and ‘He will glorify me,’ and ‘I will not leave you as orphans: I will come to you.’” (In Didymus The Blind’s On The Trinity, 3:41)
“You, you do not believe there are prophets since the first epiphany. But the Savior said: ‘Behold, I send you prophets, wise men, scribes, and you will kill some of them, and crucify them and some of them you will flog in your synagogues.’” (In Didymus The Blind’s On The Trinity, 3:41)
“We have to receive the charismatic gifts* as well.” (In Epiphanius of Salamis’ Medicine-Chest (Panarion), Heresy 48:1)
* The phrase “charismatic gifts” could also be translated as “gifts of grace”.
Irenaeus of Lyons (c.120-202)
“Now one named Quintus, a Phrygian, who was but lately come from Phrygia, when he saw the wild beasts, became afraid. This was the man who forced himself and some others to come forward voluntarily [for trial]. Him the proconsul, after many entreaties, persuaded to swear and to offer sacrifice. Wherefore, brethren, we do not commend those who give themselves up [to suffering], seeing the Gospel does not teach so to do.” (Encyclical Letter Of The Church Of Smyrna On The Martyrdom Of Polycarp, Ch. 4)
“These things being so, all who destroy the form of the Gospel are vain, unlearned, and also audacious; those, [I mean,] who represent the aspects of the Gospel as being either more in number than as aforesaid, or, on the other hand, fewer. The former class [do so], that they may seem to have discovered more than is of the truth; the latter, that they may set the dispensations of God aside. For Marcion, rejecting the entire Gospel, yea rather, cutting himself off from the Gospel, boasts that he has part in the [blessings of] the Gospel. Others, again (the Montanists), that they may set at nought the gift of the Spirit, which in the latter times has been, by the good pleasure of the Father, poured out upon the human race, do not admit that aspect [of the evangelical dispensation] presented by John’s Gospel, in which the Lord promised that He would send the Paraclete; but set aside at once both the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit. Wretched men indeed! who wish to be pseudo-prophets, forsooth, but who set aside the gift of prophecy from the Church; acting like those (the Encratitae) who, on account of such as come in hypocrisy, hold themselves aloof from the communion of the brethren. We must conclude, moreover, that these men (the Montanists) cannot admit the Apostle Paul either. For, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, he speaks expressly of prophetical gifts, and recognizes men and women prophesying in the Church. Sinning, therefore, in all these particulars, against the Spirit of God, they fall into the irremissible sin.” (Against Heresies, 3:11:9)
“He shall also judge false prophets, who, without having received the gift of prophecy from God, and not possessed of the fear of God, but either for the sake of vainglory, or with a view to some personal advantage, or acting in some other way under the influence of a wicked spirit, pretend to utter prophecies, while all the time they lie against God.” (Against Heresies, 4:33:6)
Asterius Urbanus (2nd Century)
“Having now for a very long and surely a very sufficient period had the charge pressed upon me by thee, my dear Avircius Marcellus, to write some sort of treatise against the heresy that bears the name of Miltiades, I have somehow been very doubtfully disposed toward the task up till now; not that I felt any difficulty in refuting the falsehood, and in bearing my testimony to the truth, but that I was apprehensive and fearful lest I should appear to any to be adding some new word or precept to the doctrine of the Gospel of the New Testament, with respect to which indeed it is not possible for one who has chosen to have his manner of life in accordance with the Gospel itself, either to add anything to it or to take away anything from it. Being recently, however, at Ancyra, a town of Galatia, and finding the church in Pontus greatly agitated by this new prophecy, as they call it, but which should rather be called this false prophecy, as shall be shown presently, I discoursed to the best of my ability, with the help of God, for many days in the church, both on these subjects and on various others which were brought under my notice by them. And this I did in such manner that the church rejoiced and was strengthened in the truth, while the adversaries were forthwith routed, and the opponents put to grief. And the presbyters of the place accordingly requested us to leave behind us some memorandum of the things which we alleged in opposition to the adversaries of the truth, there being present also our fellow-presbyter Zoticus Otrenus. This, however, we did not; but we promised, if the Lord gave us opportunity, to write down the matters here, and send them to them with all speed.” (Fragment from The Exordium in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:16)
“Now the attitude of opposition which they have assumed, and
this new heresy of theirs which puts them in a position of separation from
the Church, had their origin in the following manner. There is said to be a
certain village called Ardaba in the Mysia, which touches
But the same arrogant spirit taught them to revile the Church
universal under heaven, because that false spirit of prophecy found neither
honor from it nor entrance into it. For when the faithful throughout Asia met
together often and in many places of
“Wherefore, since they stigmatized us as slayers of the prophets because we did not receive their loquacious prophets, — for they say that these are they whom the Lord promised to send to the people, — let them answer us in the name of God, and tell us, O friends, whether there is any one among those who began to speak from Montanus and the women onward that was persecuted by the Jews or put to death by the wicked? There is not one. Not even one of them is there who was seized and crucified for the name of Christ. No; certainly not. Neither assuredly was there one of these women who was ever scourged in the synagogues of the Jews, or stoned. No; never anywhere. It is indeed by another kind of death that Montanus and Maximillia are said to have met their end. For the report is, that by the instigation of that maddening spirit both of them hung themselves; not together indeed, but at the particular time of the death of each as the common story goes. And thus they died, and finished their life like the traitor Judas. Thus, also, the general report gives it that Theodotus — that astonishing person who was, so to speak, the first procurator of their so-called prophecy, and who, as if he were sometime taken up and received into the heavens, fell into spurious ecstasies, and gave himself wholly over to the spirit of delusion — was at last tossed by him into the air, and met his end miserably. People say then that this took place in the way we have stated. But as we did not see them ourselves, we do not presume to think that we know any of these things with certainty. And it may therefore have been in this way perhaps, and perhaps in some other way, that Montanus and Theodotus and the woman mentioned above perished.” (Fragment from Book 2 of The Exordium in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:16)
“And let not the spirit of Maximilla say, “I am chased like a wolf from the sheep; I am no wolf. I am word, and spirit, and power.” But let him clearly exhibit and prove the power in the spirit. And by the spirit let him constrain to a confession those who were present at that time for the very purpose of trying and holding converse with the talkative spirit — those men so highly reputed as men and bishops — namely, Zoticus of the village of Comana, and Julian of Apamea, whose mouths Themison and his followers bridled, and prevented the false and seductive spirit from being confuted by them.” (Fragment from Book 2 of The Exordium in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:16)
“And has not the falsity of this also been made manifest already? For it is now upwards of thirteen years since the woman died, and there has arisen neither a partial nor a universal war in the world. Nay, rather there has been steady and continued peace to the Christians by the mercy of God.” (Fragment [possibly from Book 2] of The Exordium in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:16)
“But as they have been refuted in all their allegations, and are thus at a loss what to say, they try to take refuge in their martyrs. For they say that they have many martyrs, and that this is a sure proof of the power of their so-called prophetic spirit. But this allegation as it seems, carries not a whit more truth with it than the others. For indeed some of the other heresies have also a great multitude of martyrs; but yet certainly we shall not on that account agree with them, neither shall we acknowledge that they have truth in them. And those first heretics, who from the heresy of Marcion are called Marcionites, allege that they have a great multitude of martyrs for Christ. But yet they do not confess Christ Himself according to truth.” (Fragment from Book 3 of The Exordium in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:16)
“Hence, also, whenever those who have been called to martyrdom
for the true faith by the Church happen to fall in with any of those
so-called martyrs of the Phrygian heresy, they always separate from them, and
die without having fellowship with them, because they do not choose to give
their assent to the spirit of Montanus and the women. And that this is truly
the case, and that it has actually taken place in our own times at Apamea, a
town on the
“As I found these things in a certain writing of theirs directed against the writing of our brother Alcibiades, in which he proves the impropriety of a prophet’s speaking in ecstasy, I made an abridgment of that work.” (Fragment [possibly from Book 3] of The Exordium in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:17)
“But the false prophet falls into a spurious ecstasy, which is
accompanied by a want of all shame and fear. For beginning with a voluntary
(designed) rudeness, he ends with an involuntary madness of soul, as has been
already stated. But they will never be able to show that any one of the Old
Testament prophets, or any one of the New, was carried away in spirit after
this fashion. Nor will they be able to boast that Agabus, or Judas, or Silas,
or the daughters of Philip, or the woman Ammia in
“For if, after Quadratus and the woman Ammia in
Hermas (2nd Century)
“And again I asked him, saying, "Sir, since you have been so patient in listening to me, will you show me this also?" "Speak," said he. And I said, "If a wife or husband die, and the widower or widow marry, does he or she commit sin?" "There is no sin in marrying again," said he; "but if they remain unmarried, they gain greater honour and glory with the Lord; but if they marry, they do not sin. Guard, therefore, your chastity and purity, and you will live to God. What commandments I now give you, and what I am to give, keep from henceforth, yea, from the very day when you were entrusted to me, and I will dwell in your house. And your former sins will be forgiven, if you keep my commandments. And all shall be forgiven who keep these my commandments, and walk in this chastity."” (Shepherd Of Hermas, Book 2, Commandment 4)
pointed out to me some men sitting on a seat, and one man sitting on a chair.
And he says to me, “Do you see the persons sitting on the seat?” “I do, sir,”
Muratorian Canon (2nd Century)
“Of the writings of Arsinous, called also Valentinus, or of Miltiades, we receive nothing at all. Those are rejected too who wrote the new Book of Psalms for Marcion, together with Basilides and the founder of the Asian Cataphrygians.” (Canon Muratorianus Fragment)
Avircius Marcellus (2nd Century)
“I, the citizen of a notable city, have made this tomb in my lifetime, that I may have openly a resting-place for my body. Avircius by name, I am a disciple of the pure shepherd, who feeds flocks of sheep on mountains and plains, who hath great eyes looking on all sides. For he taught me faithful writings, and he sent me to Rome to behold the king, and to see the golden-robed, golden-slippered queen, and there I saw a people bearing the splendid seal. And I saw the plain of Syria, and all its cities, even Nisibis, having crossed the Euphrates. And everywhere I had fellow-worshippers. With Paul as my companion I followed, and everywhere Faith led the way, and everywhere set before me fish from the fountain, mighty and stainless, whom a pure Virgin grasped. At all times Faith gave this to friends to eat, having good wine, giving the mixed cup with bread. These words I, Avircius, standing by, ordered to be inscribed; in truth I was in my seventy-second year. Let every associate who sees this pray for me. No one shall place another in my tomb. If he does, he shall pay 2,000 gold pieces to the treasury of the Romans, and to my good fatherland Hierapolis 1,000 gold pieces.” (Funeral Stone Inscription)*
* Some sense an Anti-Montanistic tone within this funerary inscription. I admit that at first glance this does not seem apparent, however, there is some external evidence to support this (Apolinarius of Hierapolis began his anti-Montanist treatise by saying “Having for a very long and sufficient time, O beloved Avircius Marcellus, been urged by you to write a treatise against the heresy…”) and it is included here because of that.
Clement of Alexandria (d. c.215)
“Let not the above-mentioned people, then, call us, by way of reproach, “natural men”, nor the Phrygians either; for these now call those who do not apply themselves to the new prophecy “natural men”, with whom we shall discuss in our remarks on “Prophecy.”” (Miscellanies, 4:13)
“Of the heresies, some receive their appellation from a [person’s] name, as that which is called after Valentinus, and that after Marcion, and that after Basilides, although they boast of adducing the opinion of Matthew [without truth]; for as the teaching, so also the tradition of the apostles was one. Some take their designation from a place, as the Peratici; some from a nation, as the [heresy] of the Phrygians; some from an action, as that of the Encratites; and some from peculiar dogmas, as that of the Docetae, and that of the Hermatites; and some from suppositions, and from individuals they have honored, as those called Cainists, and the Ophians; and some from nefarious practices and enormities, as those of the Simonians called Entychites.” (Miscellanies, 7:17)
Apollonius of Ephesus (2nd-3rd Centuries)
“But who is this new teacher? His works and teaching inform us. This is he who taught the dissolution of marriage; who inculcated fasting; who called Peruga and Tymius, small towns of Phrygia, Jerusalem, because he wished to collect thither people from all parts; who set up exactors of money; who craftily contrives the taking of gifts under the name of voluntary offerings; who grants stipends to those who publish abroad his doctrine, that by means of gluttony the teaching of the doctrine may prevail.” (Unnamed Work Against Montanism in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:18)
“We declare to you, then, that these first prophetesses, as soon as they were filled with the spirit, left their husbands. Of what falsehood, then, were they guilty in calling Prisca a virgin!” (Unnamed Work Against Montanism in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:18)
“Do you not think that all Scripture forbids a prophet to receive gifts and money? When, therefore, I see that the prophetess has received gold and silver and expensive articles of dress, how can I avoid treating her with disapproval?” (Unnamed Work Against Montanism in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:18)
“Moreover, Themison also, who was clothed in a garb of plausible covetousness, who declined to bear the sign of confessorship, but by a large sum of money put away from him the chains of martyrdom, although after such conduct it was his duty to conduct himself with humility, ye had the hardihood to boast that he was a martyr, and, in imitation of the apostle, to compose a general epistle, in which he attempted to instruct in the elements of the faith those who had believed to better purpose than he, and defended the doctrines of the new-fangled teaching, and moreover uttered blasphemy against the Lord and the apostles and the holy Church.” (Unnamed Work Against Montanism in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:18)
“But, not to dwell further on these matters, let the prophetess
tell us concerning Alexander, who calls himself a martyr, with whom she joins
in banqueting; who himself also is worshipped by many; whose robberies and
other deeds of daring, for which he has been punished, it is not necessary
for us to speak of, since the treasury has him in keeping. Which of them,
then, condones the sins of the other? The prophet the robberies of the
martyr, or the martyr the covetousness of the prophet? For whereas the Lord
has said, “Provide not gold, nor silver, nor two coats a-piece,” these men
have, on the flat contrary, transgressed the command by the acquisition of
these forbidden things. For we shall show that those who are called among
them prophets and martyrs obtain money not only from the rich, but also from
the poor, from orphans and widows. And if they are confident that they are
right in so doing, let them stand forward and discuss the point, in order
that, if they be refuted, they may cease for the future so to transgress. For
the fruits of the prophet must needs be brought to
the test: for “from its fruit is the tree known.” But that those that desire
it may become acquainted with what relates to Alexander, he was condemned by
Aemilius Frontinus, proconsul at
“If they deny that their prophets have taken gifts, let them confess thus much, that if they be convicted of having taken them, they are not prophets; and we will adduce ten thousand proofs that they have. It is proper, too, that all the fruits of a prophet should be examined. Tell me: does a prophet dye his hair? Does a prophet use stibium on his eyes? Is a prophet fond of dress? Does a prophet play at gaming-tables and dice? Does a prophet lend money on interest? Let them confess whether these things are allowable or not. For my part, I will prove that these practices have occurred among them.” (Unnamed Work Against Montanism in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:18)
Caius (2nd-3rd Centuries)
I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the
“But Cerinthus also, by means of revelations which he pretends were written by a great apostle, brings before us marvelous things which he falsely claims were shown him by angels; and he says that after the resurrection the kingdom of Christ will be set up on earth, and that the flesh dwelling in Jerusalem will again be subject to desires and pleasures. And being an enemy of the Scriptures of God, he asserts, with the purpose of deceiving men, that there is to be a period of a thousand years a for marriage festivals.” (Dialogue Against Proclus in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History, 3:28)
“After him there were
four prophetesses, the daughters of Philip, at
Serapion Of Antioch (d. c. 211)
"That you may see that the doings of this lying band of the new prophecy, so called, are an abomination to all the brotherhood throughout the world, I have sent you writings of the most blessed Claudius Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia...I, Aurelius Cyrenius, a witness, pray for your health…Aelius Publius Julius, bishop of Debeltum, a colony of Thrace. As God liveth in the heavens, the blessed Sotas in Anchialus desired to cast the demon out of Priscilla, but the hypocrites did not permit him." (Letter To Caricus And Pontius in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History, 5:19)
Tertullian is the only extant Montanist writer and his works after having embraced Montanism are quite lengthy and will be best viewed via links individually.
On Ecstasy [Lost]
On The Hope Of The Faithful [Lost]
On Paradise [Lost]
On Fate [Lost]
* The Martyrdom Of Perpetua And Felicitas is thought by some to have been written by Tertullian. Some have sensed a strong Montanistic tone to the work. One theory suggests that the original work was not but was edited by a Montanistic writer resulting in this tone. Compare section one of The Martyrdom Of Perpetua And Felicitas in regards to this.
Aside from referring the reader to the above works, here are a few direct quotes by Tertullian regarding the Montanists.
“However, he is
himself a liar from the beginning, and whatever man he instigates in his own
way; as, for instance, Praxeas. For he
was the first to import into Rome from Asia this kind of heretical
pravity, a man in other respects of restless disposition, and above all
inflated with the pride of confessorship simply and solely because he had to
bear for a short time the annoyance of a prison; on which occasion, even “if
he had given his body to be burned, it would have profiled him nothing,” not
having the love of God, whose very gifts he has resisted and destroyed. For
after the Bishop of Rome had acknowledged the prophetic gifts of Montanus,
Prisca, and Maximilla, and, in consequence of the acknowledgment, had
bestowed his peace on the churches of Asia and Phrygia, he, by importunately urging false
accusations against the prophets themselves and their churches, and insisting
on the authority of the bishop’s predecessors in the see, compelled him to
recall the pacific letter which he had issued, as well as to desist from his
purpose of acknowledging the said
gifts. By this Praxeas did a twofold service for the devil at
“For, seeing that we acknowledge spiritual charismata, or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift, although coming after John (the Baptist). We have now amongst us a sister whose lot it has been to be favored with sundry gifts of revelation, which she experiences in the Spirit by ecstatic vision amidst the sacred rites of the Lord’s day in the church: she converses with angels, and sometimes even with the Lord; she both sees and hears mysterious communications; some men’s hearts she understands, and to them who are in need she distributes remedies. Whether it be in the reading of Scriptures, or in the chanting of psalms, or in the preaching of sermons, or in the offering up of prayers, in all these religious services matter and opportunity are afforded to her of seeing visions. It may possibly have happened to us, whilst this sister of ours was rapt in the Spirit, that we had discoursed in some ineffable way about the soul. After the people are dismissed at the conclusion of the sacred services, she is in the regular habit of reporting to us whatever things she may have seen in vision (for all her communications are examined with the most scrupulous care, in order that their truth may be probed). “Amongst other things,” says she, “there has been shown to me a soul in bodily shape, and a spirit has been in the habit of appearing to me; not, however, a void and empty illusion, but such as would offer itself to be even grasped by the hand, soft and transparent and of an ethereal color, and in form resembling that of a human being in every respect.” This was her vision, and for her witness there was God; and the apostle most assuredly foretold that there were to be “spiritual gifts” in the church. Now, can you refuse to believe this, even if indubitable evidence on every point is forthcoming for your conviction?” (A Treatise On The Soul, 9)
we do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although
before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be
after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of
Jerusalem, “let down from heaven,” which the apostle also calls “our mother
from above;” and, while declaring that our politeuma, or citizenship, is in heaven, he predicates of it that
it is really a city in heaven. This both Ezekiel had knowledge of and the
Apostle John beheld. And the word of the new
prophecy which is a part of our belief, attests how it foretold that
there would be for a sign a picture of this very city exhibited to view
previous to its manifestation. This prophecy, indeed, has been very lately
fulfilled in an expedition to the East. For it is evident from the testimony
of even heathen witnesses, that in
“Well therefore does Peter, when recognizing the companions of his Christ in their indissoluble connection with Him, suggest an expedient: “It is good for us to be here” (good: that evidently means to be where Moses and Elias are); “and let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. But he knew not what he said.” How knew not? Was his ignorance the result of simple error? Or was it on the principle which we maintain in the cause of the new prophecy, that to grace ecstasy or rapture is incident. For when a man is rapt in the Spirit, especially when he beholds the glory of God, or when God speaks through him, he necessarily loses his sensation, because he is overshadowed with the power of God, — a point concerning which there is a question between us and the carnally-minded. Now, it is no difficult matter to prove the rapture of Peter. For how could he have known Moses and Elias, except (by being) in the Spirit? People could not have had their images, or statues, or likenesses; for that the law forbade. How, if it were not that he had seen them in the Spirit? And therefore, because it was in the Spirit that he had now spoken, and not in his natural senses, he could not know what he had said. But if, on the other hand, he was thus ignorant, because he erroneously supposed that (Jesus) was their Christ, it is then evident that Peter, when previously asked by Christ, “Whom they thought Him to be,” meant the Creator’s Christ, when he answered, “Thou art the Christ;” because if he had been then aware that He belonged to the rival god, he would not have made a mistake here. But if he was in error here because of his previous erroneous opinion, then you may be sure that up to that very day no new divinity had been revealed by Christ, and that Peter had so far made no mistake, because hitherto Christ had revealed nothing of the kind; and that Christ accordingly was not to be regarded as belonging to any other than the Creator, whose entire dispensation he, in fact, here described.” (The Five Books Against Marcion, 4:22)
“You have accustomed yourself either to deny or change her existence even in Christ — corrupting the very Word of God Himself, who became flesh, either by mutilating or misinterpreting the Scripture, and introducing, above all, apocryphal mysteries and blasphemous fables. But yet Almighty God, in His most gracious providence, by “pouring out of His Spirit in these last days, upon all flesh, upon His servants and on His handmaidens,” has checked these impostures of unbelief and perverseness, reanimated men’s faltering faith in the resurrection of the flesh, and cleared from all obscurity and equivocation the ancient Scriptures (of both God’s Testaments) by the clear light of their (sacred) words and meanings. Now, since it was “needful that there should be heresies, in order that they which are approved might be made manifest;” since, however, these heresies would be unable to put on a bold front without some countenance from the Scriptures, it therefore is plain enough that the ancient Holy Writ has furnished them with sundry materials for their evil doctrine, which very materials indeed (so distorted) are refutable from the same Scriptures. It was fit and proper, therefore, that the Holy Ghost should no longer withhold the effusions of His gracious light upon these inspired writings, in order that they might be able to disseminate the seeds of truth with no admixture of heretical subtleties, and pluck out from it their tares. He has accordingly now dispersed all the perplexities of the past, and their self-chosen allegories and parables, by the open and perspicuous explanation of the entire mystery, through the new prophecy, which descends in copious streams from the Paraclete. If you will only draw water from His fountains, you will never thirst for other doctrine: no feverish craving after subtle questions will again consume you; but by drinking in evermore the resurrection of the flesh, you will be satisfied with the refreshing draughts.” (On The Resurrection Of The Flesh, 63)
“Meanwhile He has received from the Father the promised gift, and has shed it forth, even the Holy Spirit — the Third Name in the Godhead, and the Third Degree of the Divine Majesty; the Declarer of the One Monarchy of God, but at the same time the Interpreter of the Economy, to every one who hears and receives the words of the new prophecy; and “the Leader into all truth,” such as is in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, according to the mystery of the doctrine of Christ.” (Against Praxeas, 30)
…for there is nobody who lives so much in accordance with the flesh as they who deny the resurrection of the flesh, inasmuch as they despise all its discipline, while they disbelieve its punishment. It is a shrewd saying which the Paraclete utters concerning these persons by the mouth of the prophetess Prisca: “They are carnal, and yet they hate the flesh.” (On The Resurrection Of The Flesh, 11)
“I should wonder at the Psychics, if they were enthralled to voluptuousness alone, which leads them to repeated marriages [after being widowed], if they were not likewise bursting with gluttony, which leads them to hate fasts…It is really irksome to engage with such: one is really ashamed to wrangle about subjects the very defense of which is offensive to modesty. For how am I to protect chastity and sobriety without taxing their adversaries? What those adversaries are I will once for all mention: they are the exterior and interior botuli of the Psychics. It is these which raise controversy with the Paraclete; it is on this account that the New Prophecies are rejected: not that Montanus and Priscilla and Maximilia preach another God, nor that they disjoin Jesus Christ (from God), nor that they overturn any particular rule of faith or hope, but that they plainly teach more frequent fasting than marrying. Concerning the limit of marrying, we have already published a defense of monogamy. Now our battle is the battle of the secondary (or rather the primary) continence, in regard of the chastisement of diet. They charge us with keeping fasts of our own; with prolonging our Stations generally into the evening; with observing xerophagies likewise, keeping our food unmoistened by any flesh, and by any juiciness, and by any kind of specially succulent fruit; and with not eating or drinking anything with a winey flavor; also with abstinence from the bath, congruent with our dry diet. They are therefore constantly reproaching us with NOVELTY; concerning the unlawfulness of which they lay down a prescriptive rule, that either it must be adjudged heresy, if (the point in dispute) is a human presumption; or else pronounced pseudo-prophecy, if it is a spiritual declaration; provided that, either way, we who reclaim hear (sentence of) anathema.” (On Fasting In Opposition To The Psychics, 1)
“Grant that from the time of John the Paraclete had grown mute; we ourselves would have arisen as prophets to ourselves, for this cause chiefly: I say not now to bring down by our prayers God’s anger, nor to obtain his protection or grace; but to secure by premunition the moral position of the “latest times;” enjoining every species of tapeinofronhsiv, since the prison must be familiarized to us, and hunger and thirst practiced, and capacity of enduring as well the absence of food as anxiety about it acquired: in order that the Christian may enter into prison in like condition as if he had (just) come forth of it, — to suffer there not penalty, but discipline, and not the world’s tortures, but his own habitual observances; and to go forth out of custody to (the final) conflict with all the more confidence, having nothing of sinful false care of the flesh about him, so that the tortures may not even have material to work on, since he is cuirassed in a mere dry skin, and cased in horn to meet the claws, the succulence of his blood already sent on (heavenward) before him, the baggage as it were of his soul, — the soul herself withal now hastening (after it), having already, by frequent fasting, gained a most intimate knowledge of death!
Plainly, your habit is to furnish cookshops in the prisons to untrustworthy martyrs, for fear they should miss their accustomed usages, grow weary of life, (and) be stumbled at the novel discipline of abstinence; (a discipline) which not even the well-known Pristinus — your martyr, no Christian martyr — had ever come in contact with: he whom — stuffed as he had long been, thanks to the facilities afforded by the “free custody” (now in vogue, and) under an obligation, I suppose, to all the baths (as if they were better than baptism!), and to all the retreats of voluptuousness (as if they were more secret than those of the Church!), and to all the allurements of this life (as if they were of more worth than those of life eternal!), not to be willing to die — on the very last day of trial, at high noon, you premedicated with drugged wine as an antidote, and so completely enervated, that on being tickled — for his intoxication made it feel like tickling — with a few claws, he was unable any more to make answer to the presiding officer interrogating him “whom he confessed to be Lord;” and, being now put on the rack for this silence, when he could utter nothing but hiccoughs and belchings, died in the very act of apostasy! This is why they who preach sobriety are “false prophets;” this why they who practice it are “heretics!” Why then hesitate to believe that the Paraclete, whom you deny in a Montanus, exists in an Apicius?” (On Fasting In Opposition To The Psychics, 12)
“For if Christ abrogated what Moses enjoined, because “from the beginning (it) was not so;” and (if) — this being so — Christ will not therefore be reputed to have come from some other Power; why may not the Paraclete, too, have abrogated an indulgence which Paul granted — because second marriage [after being widowed] withal “was not from the beginning” — without deserving on this account to be regarded with suspicion, as if he were an alien spirit, provided only that the superinduction be worthy of God and of Christ? If it was worthy of God and of Christ to check “hard-heartedness” when the time (for its indulgence) was fully expired, why should it not be more worthy both of God and of Christ to shake off “infirmity of the flesh” when “the time” is already more “wound up?” If it is just that marriage be not severed, it is, of course, honorable too that it be not iterated. In short, in the estimation of the world, each is accounted a mark of good discipline: one under the name of concord; one, of modesty. “Hardness of heart” reigned till Christ’s time; let “infirmity of the flesh” (be content to) have reigned till the time of the Paraclete. The New Law abrogated divorce — it had (somewhat) to abrogate; the New Prophecy (abrogates) second marriage, (which is) no less a divorce of the former (marriage). But the “hardness of heart” yielded to Christ more readily than the “infirmity of the flesh.” The latter claims Paul in its own support more than the former Moses; if, indeed, it is claiming him in its support when it catches at his indulgence, (but) refuses his prescript — eluding his more deliberate opinions and his constant “wills,” not suffering us to render to the apostle the (obedience) which he “prefers,”.
And how long will this most shameless “infirmity” persevere in waging a war of extermination against the “better things?” The time for its indulgence was (the interval) until the Paraclete began His operations, to whose coming were deferred by the Lord (the things) which in His day “could not be endured;” which it is now no longer competent for any one to be unable to endure, seeing that He through whom the power of enduring is granted is not wanting. How long shall we allege “the flesh,” because the Lord said, “the flesh is weak?” But He has withal premised that “the Spirit is prompt,” in order that the Spirit may vanquish the flesh — that the weak may yield to the stronger. For again He says, “Let him who is able to receive, receive (it);” that is, let him who is not able go his way. That rich man did go his way who had not “received” the precept of dividing his substance to the needy, and was abandoned by the Lord to his own opinion. Nor will “harshness” be on this account imputed to Christ, on the ground of the vicious action of each individual free-will.” (On Monogamy, 14)
“Again, through the holy prophetess Prisca the Gospel is thus preached: that “the holy minister knows how to minister sanctity.” “For purity,” says she, “is harmonious, and they see visions; and, turning their face downward, they even hear manifest voices, as salutary as they are withal secret.” If this dulling (of the spiritual faculties), even when the carnal nature is allowed room for exercise in first marriage, averts the Holy Spirit; how much more when it is brought into play in second marriage!” (On Exhortation To Chastity, 10)
“My own path, however, lies along the original tenets of their chief teachers, not with the self-appointed leaders of their promiscuous followers. Nor shall we hear it said of us from any quarter, that we have of our own mind fashioned our own materials, since these have been already produced, both in respect of the opinions and their refutations, in carefully written volumes, by so many eminently holy and excellent men, not only those who have lived before us, but those also who were contemporary with the heresiarchs themselves: for instance Justin, philosopher and martyr; Miltiades, the sophist of the churches; Irenæus, that very exact inquirer into all doctrines; our own Proculus, the model of chaste old age and Christian eloquence. All these it would be my desire closely to follow in every work of faith, even as in this particular one. Now if there are no heresies at all but what those who refute them are supposed to have fabricated, then the apostle who predicted them must have been guilty of falsehood. If, however, there are heresies, they can be no other than those which are the subject of discussion. No writer can be supposed to have so much time on his hands as to fabricate materials which are already in his possession.” (Against The Valentinians, 5)
“If ancient illustrations of faith which both testify to God's grace and tend to man's edification are collected in writing, so that by the perusal of them, as if by the reproduction of the facts, as well God may be honoured, as man may be strengthened; why should not new instances be also collected, that shall be equally suitable for both purposes,-if only on the ground that these modern examples will one day become ancient and available for posterity, although in their present time they are esteemed of less authority, by reason of the presumed veneration for antiquity? But let men look to it, if they judge the power of the Holy Spirit to be one, according to the times and seasons; since some things of later date must be esteemed of more account as being nearer to the very last times, in accordance with the exuberance of grace manifested to the final periods determined for the world. For "in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and their sons and their daughters shall prophesy. And upon my servants and my handmaidens will I pour out of my Spirit; and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." And thus we-who both acknowledge and reverence, even as we do the prophecies, modern visions as equally promised to us, and consider the other powers of the Holy Spirit as an agency of the Church for which also He was sent, administering all gifts in all, even as the Lord distributed to every one as well needfully collect them in writing, as commemorate them in reading to God's glory; that so no weakness or despondency of faith may suppose that the divine grace abode only among the ancients, whether in respect of the condescension that raised up martyrs, or that gave revelations; since God always carries into effect what He has promised, for a testimony to unbelievers, to believers for a benefit. And we therefore, what we have heard and handled, declare also to you, brethren and little children, that as well you who were concerned in these matters may be reminded of them again to the glory of the Lord, as that you who know them by report may have communion with the blessed martyrs, and through them with the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and honour, for ever and ever.” (The Martyrdom Of Perpetua And Felicity, Preface)
Hippolytus Of Rome (d. c. 236)
“But there are others who themselves are even more heretical in nature (than the foregoing) and are Phrygians by birth. These have been rendered victims of error from being previously captivated by (two) wretched women, called a certain Priscilla and Maximilla, whom they supposed (to be) prophetesses. And they assert that into these the Paraclete Spirit had departed; and antecedently to them, they in like manner consider Montanus as a prophet. And being in possession of an infinite number of their books, (the Phrygians) are overrun with delusion; and they do not judge whatever statements are made by them, according to (the criterion of) reason; nor do they give heed unto those who are competent to decide; but they are heedlessly swept onwards, by the reliance which they place on these (impostors). And they allege that they have learned something more through these, than from law, and prophets, and the Gospels. But they magnify these wretched women above the Apostles and every gift of Grace, so that some of them presume to assert that there is in them a something superior to Christ. These acknowledge God to be the Father of the universe, and Creator of all things, similarly with the Church, and (receive) as many things as the Gospel testifies concerning Christ. They introduce, however, the novelties of fasts, and feasts, and meals of parched food, and repasts of radishes, alleging that they have been instructed by women. And some of these assent to the heresy of the Noetians, and affirm that the Father himself is the Son, and that this (one) came under generation, and suffering, and death. Concerning these I shall again offer an explanation, after a more minute manner; for the heresy of these has been an occasion of evils to many. We therefore are of opinion, that the statements made concerning these (heretics) are sufficient when we shall have briefly proved to all that the majority of their books are silly, and their attempts (at reasoning) weak, and worthy of no consideration. But it is not necessary for those who possess a sound mind to pay attention (either to their volumes or their arguments).” (The Refutation Of All Heresies, 8:12)
“The Phrygians, however, derive the principles of their heresy from a certain Montanus, and Priscilla, and Maximilla, and regard these wretched women as prophetesses, and Montanus as a prophet. In respect, however, of what appertains to the origin and creation of the universe, the Phrygians are supposed to express themselves correctly; while in the tenets which they enunciate respecting Christ, they have not irrelevantly formed their opinions. But they are seduced into error in common with the heretics previously alluded to, and devote their attention to the discourses of these above the Gospels, thus laying down regulations concerning novel and strange fasts.” (The Refutation Of All Heresies, 8: 21)
“But others of them, being attached to the heresy of the Noetians, entertain similar opinions to those relating to the silly women of the Phrygians, and to Montanus. As regards, however, the truths appertaining to the Father of the entire of existing things, they are guilty of blasphemy, because they assert that He is Son and Father, visible and invisible, begotten and unbegotten, mortal and immortal. These have taken occasion from a certain Noetus to put forward their heresy.” (The Refutation Of All Heresies, 8:22)
Victorinus Of Pettau (2nd-3rd Centuries)
“To him that overcomes I will give the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone.” The hidden manna is immortality; the white gem is adoption to be the son of God; the new name written on the stone is Christian.
The fourth class intimates the nobility of the faithful, who labour daily, and do greater works. But even among them also He shows that there are men of an easy disposition to grant unlawful peace, and to listen to new forms of prophesying; and He reproves and warns the others to whom this is not pleasing, who know the wickedness opposed to them: for which evils He purposes to bring upon the head of the faithful both sorrows and dangers…” (Commentary On The Apocalypse, 2:17)
“Granting that there are some amongst us Christians who do not allow that our God is the same as the God of the Jews, it by no means follows that they are to be blamed who prove from the same Scriptures that one and the same God is God of the Jews and of the Gentiles; Paul plainly shows this, when, after leaving the Jewish religion and embracing Christianity, he says, "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience." Let us grant, too, that there is a third class composed of those who call some persons psychical and others spiritual* (I suppose Celsus means the Valentinians); but what have we who belong to the Church to do with that? We are the accusers of those who introduce the doctrine of natures so constituted that they must be saved, or must perish.” (Philocalia, 16:3)
* Tertullian called those who rejected the Montanist view Psychici, that is, animal or carnal: while the followers of Montanus were called Spiritales, spiritual.
“And as there are many ways of apprehending Christ, who, although He is wisdom, does not act the part or possess the power of wisdom in all men, but only in those who give themselves to the study of wisdom in Him; and who, although called a physician, does not act as one towards all, but only towards those who understand their feeble and sickly condition, and flee to His compassion that they may obtain health; so also I think is it with the Holy Spirit, in whom is contained every kind of gifts. For on some is bestowed by the Spirit the word of wisdom, on others the word of knowledge, on others faith; and so to each individual of those who are capable of receiving Him, is the Spirit Himself made to be that quality, or understood to be that which is needed by the individual who has deserved to participate. These divisions and differences not being perceived by those who hear Him called Paraclete in the Gospel, and not duly considering in consequence of what work or act He is named the Paraclete, they have compared Him to some common spirits or other, and by this means have tried to disturb the Churches of Christ, and so excite dissensions of no small extent among brethren; whereas the Gospel shows Him to be of such power and majesty, that it says the apostles could not yet receive those things which the Saviour wished to teach them until the advent of the Holy Spirit, who, pouring Himself into their souls, might enlighten them regarding the nature and faith of the Trinity. But these persons, because of the ignorance of their understandings, are not only unable themselves logically to state the truth, but cannot even give their attention to what is advanced by us; and entertaining unworthy ideas of His divinity, have delivered themselves over to errors and deceits, being depraved by a spirit of error, rather than instructed by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, according to the declaration of the apostle, Following the doctrine of devils, forbidding to marry, to the destruction and ruin of many, and to abstain from meats, that by an ostentatious exhibition of stricter observance they may seduce the souls of the innocent.
We must therefore know that the Paraclete is the Holy Spirit, who teaches truths which cannot be uttered in words, and which are, so to speak, unutterable, and “which it is not lawful for a man to utter,” i.e., which cannot be indicated by human language. The phrase “it is not lawful” is, we think, used by the apostle instead of “it is not possible;” as also is the case in the passage where he says, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me; but all things edify not.” For those things which are in our power because we may have them, he says are lawful for us. But the Paraclete, who is called the Holy Spirit, is so called from His work of consolation, paraclesis being termed in Latin consolatio. For if any one has deserved to participate in the Holy Spirit by the knowledge of His ineffable mysteries, he undoubtedly obtains comfort and joy of heart. For since he comes by the teaching of the Spirit to the knowledge of the reasons of all things which happen—how or why they occur—his soul can in no respect be troubled, or admit any feeling of sorrow; nor is he alarmed by anything, since, clinging to the Word of God and His wisdom, he through the Holy Spirit calls Jesus Lord. And since we have made mention of the Paraclete, and have explained as we were able what sentiments ought to be entertained regarding Him; and since our Saviour also is called the Paraclete in the Epistle of John, when he says, “If any of us sin, we have a Paraclete with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins;” let us consider whether this term Paraclete should happen to have one meaning when applied to the Saviour, and another when applied to the Holy Spirit. Now Paraclete, when spoken of the Saviour, seems to mean intercessor. For in Greek, Paraclete has both significations—that of intercessor and comforter. On account, then, of the phrase which follows, when he says, “And He is the propitiation for our sins,” the name Paraclete seems to be understood in the case of our Saviour as meaning intercessor; for He is said to intercede with the Father because of our sins. In the case of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete must be understood in the sense of comforter, inasmuch as He bestows consolation upon the souls to whom He openly reveals the apprehension of spiritual knowledge.” (On First Principles, 2:7:3-4)
“It is true, some have raised the question, and properly so, as to whether those who have the name Cataphrygian should be called a heresy or a schism. They invoke false prophets and say: “Do not come near me, for I am pure; for I have not taken a wife, nor is my throat an open tomb, but I am a Nazirite of God; just like them, I do not drink wine.” (In Pamphilus’ Apology For Origen)
“But as Celsus promises to give an account of the manner in which prophecies are delivered in Phoenicia and Palestine, speaking as though it were a matter with which he had a full and personal acquaintance, let us see what he has to say on the subject. First he lays it down that there are several kinds of prophecies, but he does not specify what they are; indeed, he could not do so, and the statement is a piece of pure ostentation. However, let us see what he considers the most perfect kind of prophecy among these nations. “There are many,” he says, “who, although of no name, with the greatest facility and on the slightest occasion, whether within or without temples, assume the motions and gestures of inspired persons; while others do it in cities or among armies, for the purpose of attracting attention and exciting surprise. These are accustomed to say, each for himself, ‘I am God; I am the Son of God; or, I am the Divine Spirit; I have come because the world is perishing, and you, O men, are perishing for your iniquities. But I wish to save you, and you shall see me returning again with heavenly power. Blessed is he who now does me homage. On all the rest I will send down eternal fire, both on cities and on countries. And those who know not the punishments which await them shall repent and grieve in vain; while those who are faithful to me I will preserve eternally.’” Then he goes on to say: “To these promises are added strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning: for so dark are they, as to have no meaning at all; but they give occasion to every fool or impostor to apply them to suit his own purposes.”
But if he were dealing honestly in his accusations, he ought to have given the exact terms of the prophecies, whether those in which the speaker is introduced as claiming to be God Almighty, or those in which the Son of God speaks, or finally those under the name of the Holy Spirit. For thus he might have endeavoured to overthrow these assertions, and have shown that there was no divine inspiration in those words which urged men to forsake their sins, which condemned the past and foretold the future. For the prophecies were recorded and preserved by men living at the time, that those who came after might read and admire them as the oracles of God, and that they might profit not only by the warnings and admonitions, but also by the predictions, which, being shown by events to have proceeded from the Spirit of God, bind men to the practice of piety as set forth in the law and the prophets. The prophets have therefore, as God commanded them, declared with all plainness those things which it was desirable that the hearers should understand at once for the regulation of their conduct; while in regard to deeper and more mysterious subjects, which lay beyond the reach of the common understanding, they set them forth in the form of enigmas and allegories, or of what are called dark sayings, parables, or similitudes. And this plan they have followed, that those who are ready to shun no labour and spare no pains in their endeavours after truth and virtue might search into their meaning, and having found it, might apply it as reason requires. But Celsus, ever vigorous in his denunciations, as though he were angry at his inability to understand the language of the prophets, scoffs at them thus: “To these grand promises are added strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning; for so dark are they as to have no meaning at all; but they give occasion to every fool or impostor to apply them so as to suit his own purposes.” This statement of Celsus seems ingeniously designed to dissuade readers from attempting any inquiry or careful search into their meaning. And in this he is not unlike certain persons, who said to a man whom a prophet had visited to announce future events, “Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee?”
I am convinced, indeed, that much better arguments could be adduced than any I have been able to bring forward, to show the falsehood of these allegations of Celsus, and to set forth the divine inspiration of the prophecies; but we have according to our ability, in our commentaries on Isaiah, Ezekiel, and some of the twelve minor prophets, explained literally and in detail what he calls “those fanatical and utterly unintelligible passages.” And if God give us grace in the time that He appoints for us, to advance in the knowledge of His word, we shall continue our investigation into the parts which remain, or into such at least as we are able to make plain. And other persons of intelligence who wish to study Scripture may also find out its meaning for themselves; for although there are many places in which the meaning is not obvious, yet there are none where, as Celsus affirms, “there is no sense at all.” Neither is it true that “any fool or impostor can explain the passages so as to make them suit his own purposes.” For it belongs only to those who are wise in the truth of Christ (and to all them it does belong) to unfold the connection and meaning of even the obscure parts of prophecy, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” and interpreting each passage according to the usage of Scripture writers. And Celsus is not to be believed when he says that he has heard such men prophesy; for no prophets bearing any resemblance to the ancient prophets have appeared in the time of Celsus. If there had been any, those who heard and admired them would have followed the example of the ancients, and have recorded the prophecies in writing. And it seems quite clear that Celsus is speaking falsely, when he says that “those prophets whom he had heard, on being pressed by him, confessed their true motives, and acknowledged that the ambiguous words they used really meant nothing.” He ought to have given the names of those whom he says he had heard, if he had any to give, so that those who were competent to judge might decide whether his allegations were true or false.” (Against Celsus, 7:9-11)
Cyprian Of Carthage (d. 258)
1. Cyprian to Jubaianus his brother, greeting. You have written to me, dearest brother, wishing that the impression of my mind should be signified to you, as to what I think concerning the baptism of heretics; who, placed without, and established outside the Church, arrogate to themselves a matter neither within their right nor their power. This baptism we cannot consider as valid or legitimate, since it is manifestly unlawful among them; and since we have already expressed in our letters what we thought on this matter, I have, as a compendious method, sent you a copy of the same letters, what we decided in council when very many of us were present, and what, moreover, I subsequently wrote back to Quintus, our colleague, when he asked about the same thing. And now also, when we had met together, bishops as well of the province of Africa as of Numidia, to the number of seventy-one, we established this same matter once more by our judgment, deciding that there is one baptism which is appointed in the Catholic Church; and that by this those are not re-baptized, but baptized by us, who at any time come from the adulterous and unhallowed water to be washed and sanctified by the truth of the saving water…
3. But among us it is no new or sudden thing for us to judge that those are to be baptized who come to the Church from among the heretics, since it is now many years and a long time ago, that, under Agrippinus-a man of worthy memory-very many bishops assembling together have decided this; and thenceforward until the present day, so many thousands of heretics in our provinces have been converted to the Church, and have neither despised nor delayed, nay, they have both reasonably and gladly embraced, the opportunity to attain the grace of the life-giving layer and of saving baptism. For it is not difficult for a teacher to insinuate true and lawful things into his mind, who, having condemned heretical pravity, and discovered the truth of the Church, comes for this purpose, that he may learn, and learns for the purpose that he may live. We ought not to increase the stolidity of heretics by the patronage of our consent, when they gladly and readily obey the truth.
4. Certainly, since I found in the letter the copy of which you transmitted to me, that it was written, "That it should not be asked who baptized, since he who is baptized might receive remission of sins according to what he believed," I thought that this topic was not to be passed by, especially since I observed in the same epistle that mention was also made of Marcion, saying that "even those that came from him did not need to be baptized, because they seemed to have been already baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." Therefore we ought to consider their faith who believe without, whether in respect of the same faith they can obtain any grace. For if we and heretics have one faith, we may also have one grace. If the Patripassians, Anthropians, Valentinians, Apelletians, Ophites, Marcionites, and other pests, and swords, and poisons of heretics for subverting the truth, confess the same Father, the same Son, the same Holy Ghost, the same Church with us, they may also have one baptism if they have also one faith.
5. And lest it should be wearisome to go through all the heresies, and to enumerate either the follies or the madness of each of them, because it is no pleasure to speak of that which one either dreads or is ashamed to know, let us examine in the meantime about Marcion alone, the mention of whom has been made in the letter transmitted by you to us, whether the ground of his baptism can be made good. For the Lord after His resurrection, sending His disciples, instructed and taught them in what manner they ought to baptize, saying, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." He suggests the Trinity, in whose sacrament the nations were to be baptized. Does Marcion then maintain the Trinity? Does he then assert the same Father, the Creator, as we do? Does he know the same Son, Christ born of the Virgin Mary, who as the Word was made flesh, who bare our sins, who conquered death by dying, who by Himself first of all originated the resurrection of the flesh, and showed to His disciples that He had risen in the same flesh? Widely different is the faith with Marcion, and, moreover, with the other heretics nay, with them there is nothing but perfidy, and blasphemy, and contention, which is hostile to holiness and truth. How then can one who is baptized among them seem to have obtained mission of sins, and the grace of the divine mercy, by his faith, when he has not the truth of the faith itself? For if, as some suppose, one could receive anything abroad out of the Church according to his faith, certainly he has received what he believed; but if he believes what is false, he could not receive what is true; but rather he has received things adulterous and profane, according to what he believed.
6. This matter of profane and adulterous baptism Jeremiah the prophet plainly rebukes, saying, "Why do they who afflict me prevail? My wound is hard; whence shall I be healed? while it has indeed become unto me as deceitful water which has no faithfulness." The Holy Spirit makes mention by the prophet of deceitful water which has no faithfulness. What is this deceitful and faithless water? Certainly that which falsely assumes the resemblance of baptism, and frustrates the grace of faith by a shadowy pretence. But if, according to a perverted faith, one could be baptized without, and obtain remission of sins, according to the same faith he could also attain the Holy Spirit; and there is no need that hands should be laid on him when he comes, that he might obtain the Holy Ghost, and be sealed. Either he could obtain both privileges without by his faith, or he who has been without has received neither.
7. But it is manifest where and by whom remission of sins can be given; to wit, that which is given in baptism. For first of all the Lord gave that power to Peter, upon whom He built the Church, and whence He appointed and showed the source of unity-the power, namely, that whatsoever he loosed on earth should be loosed in heaven. And after the resurrection, also, He speaks to the apostles, saying, "As the Father hath sent me, even so I send you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith, unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." Whence we perceive that only they who are set over the Church and established in the Gospel law, and in the ordinance of the Lord, are allowed to baptize and to give remission of sins; but that without, nothing can either be bound or loosed, where there is none who can either bind or loose anything.
8. Nor do we propose this, dearest brother, without the authority of divine Scripture, when we say that all things are arranged by divine direction by a certain law and by special ordinance, and that none can usurp to himself, in opposition to the bishops and priests, anything which is not of his own right and power. For Korah, Dathan, and Abiram endeavoured to usurp, in opposition to Moses and Aaron the priest, the power of sacrificing; and they did not do without punishment what they unlawfully dared. The sons of Aaron also, who placed strange fire upon the altar, were at once consumed in the sight of an angry Lord; which punishment remains to those who introduce strange water by a false baptism, that the divine vengeance may avenge and chastise when heretics do that in opposition to the Church, which the Church alone is allowed to do.
9. But in respect of the assertion of some concerning those who had been baptized in Samaria, that when the Apostles Peter and John came, only hands were imposed on them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost, yet that they were not re-baptized; we see that that place does not, dearest brother, touch the present case. For they who had believed in Samaria had believed with a true faith; and within, in the Church which is one, and to which alone it is granted to bestow the grace of baptism and to remit sins, had been baptized by Philip the deacon, whom the same apostles had sent. And therefore, because they had obtained a legitimate and ecclesiastical baptism, there was no need that they should be baptized any more, but only that which was needed was performed by Peter and John; viz., that prayer being made for them, and hands being imposed, the Holy Spirit should be invoked and poured out upon them, which now too is done among us, so that they who are baptized in the Church are brought to the prelates of the Church, and by our prayers and by the imposition of hands obtain the Holy Spirit, and are perfected with the Lord's seal.
10. There is no ground, therefore, dearest brother, for thinking that we should give way to heretics so far as to contemplate the betrayal to them of that baptism, which is only granted to the one and only Church. It is a good soldier's duty to defend the camp of his general against rebels and enemies. It is the duty of an illustrious leader to keep the standards entrusted to him. It is written, "The Lord thy God is a jealous God." We who have received the Spirit of God ought to have a jealousy for the divine faith; with such a jealousy as that wherewith Phineas both pleased God and justly allayed His wrath when He was angry, and the people were perishing. Why do we receive as allowed an adulterous and alien church, a foe to the divine unity, when we know only one Christ and His one Church? The Church, setting forth the likeness of paradise, includes within her walls fruit-bearing trees, whereof that which does not bring forth good fruit is cut off and is cast into the fire. These trees she waters with four rivers, that is, with the four Gospels, wherewith, by a celestial inundation, she bestows the grace of saving baptism. Can any one water from the Church's fountains who is not within the Church? Can one impart those wholesome and saving draughts of paradise to any one if he is perverted, and of himself condemned, and banished outside the fountains of paradise, and has dried up and failed with the dryness of an eternal thirst?
11. The Lord cries aloud, that "whosoever thirsts should come and drink of the rivers of living water that flowed out of His bosom." Whither is he to come who thirsts? Shall he come to the heretics, where there is no fountain and river of living water at all; or to the Church which is one, and is founded upon one who has received the keys of it by the Lord's voice? It is she who holds and possesses alone all the power of her spouse and Lord. In her we preside; for her honour and unity we fight; her grace, as well as her glory, we defend with faithful devotedness. We by the divine permission water the thirsting people of God; we guard the boundaries of the living fountains. If, therefore, we hold the right of our possession, if we acknowledge the sacrament of unity, wherefore are we esteemed prevaricators against truth? Wherefore are we judged betrayers of unity? The faithful, and saving, and holy water of the Church cannot be corrupted and adulterated, as the Church herself also is uncorrupted, and chaste, and modest. If heretics are devoted to the Church and established in the Church, they may use both her baptism and her other saving benefits. But if they are not in the Church, nay more, if they act against the Church, how can they baptize with the Church's baptism?
12. For it is no small and insignificant matter, which is conceded to heretics, when their baptism is recognised by us; since thence springs the whole origin of faith and the saving access to the hope of life eternal, and the divine condescension for purifying and quickening the servants of God. For if any one could be baptized among heretics, certainly he could also obtain remission of sins. If he attained remission of sins, he was also sanctified. If he was sanctified, he also was made the temple of God. I ask, of what God? If of the Creator; he could not be, because he has not believed in Him. If of Christ; he could not become His temple, since he denies that Christ is God. If of the Holy Spirit; since the three are one, how can the Holy Spirit be at peace with him who is the enemy either of the Son or of the Father?
13. Hence it is in vain that some who are overcome by reason oppose to us custom, as if custom were greater than truth; or as if that were not to be sought after in spiritual matters which has been revealed as the better by the Holy Spirit. For one who errs by simplicity may be pardoned, as the blessed Apostle Paul says of himself, "I who at first was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; yet obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly." But after inspiration and revelation made to him, he who intelligently and knowingly perseveres in that course in which he had erred, sins without pardon for his ignorance. For he resists with a certain presumption and obstinacy, when he is overcome by reason. Nor let any one say, "We follow that which we have received from the apostles," when the apostles only delivered one Church, and one baptism, which is not ordained except in the same Church. And we cannot find that any one, when he had been baptized by heretics, was received by the apostles in the same baptism, and communicated in such a way as that the apostles should appear to have approved the baptism of heretics.
14. For as to what some say, as if it tended to favour heretics, that the Apostle Paul declared, "Only every way, whether in pretence or in truth, let Christ be preached," we find that this also can avail nothing to their benefit who support and applaud heretics. For Paul, in his epistle, was not speaking of heretics, nor of their baptism, so that anything can be shown to have been alleged which pertained to this matter. He was speaking of brethren, whether as walking disorderly anti against the discipline of the Church, or as keeping the truth of the Gospel with the fear of God. And he said that certain of them spoke the word of God with constancy and courage, but some acted in envy and dissension; that some maintained towards him a benevolent love, but that some indulged a malevolent spirit of dissension; but yet that he bore all patiently, so long only as, whether in truth or in pretence, the name of Christ which Paul preached might come to the knowledge of many; and the sowing of the word, which as yet had been new and irregular, might increase through the preaching of the speakers. Besides, it is one thing for those who are within the Church to speak concerning the name of Christ; it is another for those who are without, and act in opposition to the Church, to baptize in the name of Christ. Wherefore, let not those who favour heretics put forward what Paul spoke concerning brethren, but let them show if he thought anything was to be conceded to the heretic, or if he approved of their faith or baptism, or if he appointed that perfidious and blasphemous men could receive remission of their sins outside the Church.
15. But if we consider what the apostles thought about heretics, we shall find that they, in all their epistles, execrated and detested the sacrilegious wickedness of heretics. For when they say that "their word creeps as a canker," how is such a word as that able to give remission of sins, which creeps like a canker to the ears of the hearers? And when they say that there can be no fellowship between righteousness and un-righteousness, no communion between light and darkness, how can either darkness illuminate, or unrighteousness justify? And when they say that "they are not of God, but are of the spirit of Antichrist," how can they transact spiritual and divine matters, who are the enemies of God, and whose hearts the spirit of Antichrist has possessed? Wherefore, if, laying aside the errors of human dispute, we return with a sincere and religious faith to the evangelical authority and to the apostolical tradition, we shall perceive that they may do nothing towards conferring the ecclesiastical and saving grace, who, scattering and attacking the Church of Christ, are called adversaries by Christ Himself, but by His apostles, Antichrists.
16. Again, there is no ground for any one, for the circumvention of Christian truth, opposing to us the name of Christ, and saying, "All who are baptized everywhere, and in any manner, in the name of Jesus Christ, have obtained the grace of baptism,"-when Christ Himself speaks, and says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.", And again, He forewarns and instructs, that no one should be easily deceived by false prophets and false Christs in His name. "Many," He says, "shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many." And afterwards He added: "But take ye heed; behold, I have foretold you all things." Whence it appears that all things are not at once to be received and assumed which are boasted of in the name of Christ, but only those things which are done in the truth of Christ.
17. For whereas in the Gospels, and in the epistles of the apostles, the name of Christ is alleged for the remission of sins; it is not in such a way as that the Son alone, without the Father, or against the Father, can be of advantage to anybody; but that it might be shown to the Jews, who boasted as to their having the Father, that the Father would profit them nothing, unless they believed on the Son whom He had sent. For they who know God the Father the Creator, ought also to know Christ the Son, lest they should flatter and applaud themselves about the Father alone, without the acknowledgment of His Son, who also said, "No man cometh to the Father but by me." But He, the same, sets forth, that it is the knowledge of the two which saves, when He says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." Since, therefore, from the preaching and testimony of Christ Himself, the Father who sent must be first known, then afterwards Christ, who was sent, and there cannot be a hope of salvation except by knowing the two together; how, when God the Father is not known, nay, is even blasphemed, can they who among the heretics are said to be baptized in the name of Christ, be judged to have obtained the remission of sins? For the case of the Jews under the apostles was one, but the condition of the Gentiles is another. The former, because they had already gained the most ancient baptism of the law and Moses, were to be baptized also in the name of Jesus Christ, in conformity with what Peter tells them in the Acts of the Apostles, saying, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For this promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Peter makes mention of Jesus Christ, not as though the Father should be omitted, but that the Son also might be joined to the Father.
18. Finally, when, after the resurrection, the apostles are sent by the Lord to the heathens, they are bidden to baptize the Gentiles "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." How, then, do some say, that a Gentile baptized without, outside the Church, yea, and in opposition to the Church, so that it be only in the name of Jesus Christ, everywhere, and in whatever manner, can obtain remission of sin, when Christ Himself commands the heathen to be baptized in the full and united Trinity? Unless while one who denies Christ is denied by Christ, he who denies His Father whom Christ Himself confessed is not denied; and he who blasphemes against Him whom Christ called His Lord and His God, is rewarded by Christ, and obtains remission of sins, and the sanctification of baptism! But by what power can he who denies God the Creator, the Father of Christ, obtain, in baptism, the remission of sins, since Christ received that very power by which we are baptized and sanctified, from the same Father, whom He called "greater" than Himself, by whom He desired to be glorified, whose will He fulfilled even unto the obedience of drinking the cup, and of undergoing death? What else is it then, than to become a partaker with blaspheming heretics, to wish to maintain and assert, that one who blasphemes and gravely sins against the Father and the Lord and God of Christ, can receive remission of sins in the name of Christ? What, moreover, is that, and of what kind is it, that he who denies the Son of God has not the Father, and he who denies the Father should be thought to have the Son, although the Son Himself testifies, and says, "No man can come unto me except it were given unto him of my Father? " So that it is evident, that no remission of sins can be received in baptism from the Son, which it is not plain that the Father has granted. Especially, since He further repeats, and says, "Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up."
19. But if Christ's disciples are unwilling to learn from Christ what veneration and honour is due to the name of the Father, still let them learn from earthly and secular examples, and know that Christ has declared, not without the strongest rebuke, "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." In this world of ours, if any one have offered an insult to the father of any; if in injury and frowardness he have wounded his reputation and his honour by a malevolent tongue, the son is indignant, and wrathful, and with what means he can, strives to avenge his injured father's wrong. Think you that Christ grants impunity to the impious and profane, and the blasphemers of His Father, and that He puts away their sins in baptism, who it is evident, when baptized, still heap up evil words on the person of the Father, and sin with the unceasing wickedness of a blaspheming tongue? Can a Christian, can a servant of God, either conceive this in his mind, or believe it in faith, or put it forward in discourse? And what will become of the precepts of the divine law, which say, "Honour thy father and thy mother?" If the name of father, which in man is commanded to be honoured, is violated with impunity in God, what will become of what Christ Himself lays down in the Gospel, and says, "He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death; " if He who bids that those who curse their parents after the flesh should be punished and slain, Himself quickens those who revile their heavenly and spiritual Father, and are hostile to the Church, their Mother? An execrable and detestable thing is actually asserted by some, that He who threatens the man who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, that he shall be guilty of eternal sin, Himself condescends to sanctify those who blaspheme against God the Father with saving baptism. And now, those who think that they must communicate with such as come to the Church without baptism, do not consider that they are becoming partakers with other men's, yea, with eternal sins, when they admit without baptism those who cannot, except in baptism, put off the sins of their blasphemies.
20. Besides, how vain and perverse a thing it is, that when the heretics themselves, having repudiated and forsaken either the error or the wickedness in which they had previously been, acknowledge the truth of the Church, we should mutilate the rights and sacrament of that same truth, and say to those who come to us and repent, that they had obtained remission of sins when they confess that they have sinned, and are for that reason come to seek the pardon of the Church! Wherefore, dearest brother, we ought both firmly to maintain the faith and truth of the Catholic Church, and to teach, and by all the evangelical and apostolical precepts to set forth, the plan of the divine dispensation and unity.
21. Can the power of baptism be greater or of more avail than confession, than suffering, when one confesses Christ before men and is baptized in his own blood? And yet even this baptism does not benefit a heretic, although he has confessed Christ, and been put to death outside the Church, unless the patrons and advocates of heretics declare that the heretics who are slain in a false confession of Christ are martyrs, and assign to them the glory and the crown of martyrdom contrary to the testimony of the apostle, who says that it will profit them nothing although they were burnt and slain. But if not even the baptism of a public confession and blood can profit a heretic to salvation, because there is no salvation out of the Church, how much less shall it be of advantage to him, if in a hiding-place and a cave of robbers, stained with the contagion of adulterous water, he has not only not put off his old sins, but rather heaped up still newer and greater ones! Wherefore baptism cannot be common to us and to heretics, to whom neither God the Father, nor Christ the Son, nor the Holy Ghost, nor the faith, nor the Church itself, is common. And therefore it behoves those to be baptized who come from heresy to the Church, that so they who are prepared, in the lawful, and true, and only baptism of the holy Church, by divine regeneration, for the kingdom of God, may be born of both sacraments, because it is written, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
22. On which place some, as if by human reasoning they were able to make void the truth of the Gospel declaration, object to us the case of catechumens; asking if any one of these, before he is baptized in the Church, should be apprehended and slain on confession of the name, whether he would lose the hope of salvation and the reward of confession, because he had not previously been born again of water? Let men of this kind, who are aiders and favourers of heretics, know therefore, first, that those catechumens hold the sound faith and truth of the Church, and advance from the divine camp to do battle with the devil, with a full and sincere acknowledgment of God the Father, and of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost; then, that they certainly are not deprived of the sacrament of baptism who are baptized with the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood, concerning which the Lord also said, that He had "another baptism to be baptized with." But the same Lord declares in the Gospel, that those who are baptized in their own blood, and sanctified by suffering, are perfected, and obtain the grace of the divine promise, when He speaks to the thief believing and confessing in His very passion, and promises that he should be with Himself in paradise. Wherefore we who are set over the faith and truth ought not to deceive and mislead those who come to the faith and truth, and repent, and beg that their sins should be remitted to them; but to instruct them when corrected by us, and reformed for the kingdom of heaven by celestial discipline.
23. But some one says, "What, then, shall become of those who in past times, coming from heresy to the Church, were received without baptism?" The Lord is able by His mercy to give indulgence, and not to separate from the gifts of His Church those who by simplicity were admitted into the Church, and in the Church have fallen asleep. Nevertheless it does not follow that, because there was error at one time, there must always be error; since it is more fitting for wise and God-fearing men, gladly and without delay to obey the truth when laid open and perceived, than pertinaciously and obstinately to struggle against brethren and fellow-priests on behalf of heretics.
24. Nor let any one think that, because baptism is proposed to them, heretics will be kept back from coming to the Church, as if offended at the name of a second baptism; nay, but on this very account they are rather driven to the necessity of coming by the testimony of truth shown and proved to them. For if they shall see that it is determined and decreed by our judgment and sentence, that the baptism wherewith they are there baptized is considered just and legitimate, they will think that they are justly and legitimately in possession of the Church also, and the other gifts of the Church; nor will there be any reason for their coming to us, when, as they have baptism, they seem also to have the rest. But further, when they know that there is no baptism without, and that no remission of sins can be given outside the Church, they more eagerly and readily hasten to us, and implore the gifts and benefits of the Church our Mother, assured that they can in no wise attain to the true promise of divine grace unless they first come to the truth of the Church. Nor will heretics refuse to be baptized among us with the lawful and true baptism of the Church, when they shall have learnt from us that they also were baptized by Paul, who already had been baptized with the baptism of John, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles.
25. And now by certain of us the baptism of heretics is asserted to occupy the (like) ground, and, as if by a certain dislike of re-baptizing, it is counted unlawful to baptize after God's enemies. And this, although we find that they were baptized whom John had baptized: John, esteemed the greatest among the prophets; John, filled with divine grace even in his mother's womb; who was sustained with the spirit and power of Elias; who was not an adversary of the Lord, but His precursor and announcer; who not only foretold our Lord in words, but even showed Him to the eyes; who baptized Christ Himself by whom others are baptized. But if on that account a heretic could obtain the right of baptism, because he first baptized, then baptism will not belong to the person that has it, but to the person that seizes it. And since baptism and the Church can by no means be separated from one another, and divided, he who has first been able to lay hold on baptism has equally also laid hold on the Church; and you begin to appear to him as a heretic, when you being anticipated, have begun to be last, and by yielding and giving way have relinquished the right which you had received. But how dangerous it is in divine matters, that any one should depart from his right and power, Holy Scripture declares when, in Genesis, Esau thence lost his birthright, nor was able afterwards to regain that which he had once given up.
26. These things, dearest brother, I have briefly written to you, according to my abilities, prescribing to none, and prejudging none, so as to prevent any one of the bishops doing what he thinks well, and having the free exercise of his judgment. We, as far as in us lies, do not contend on behalf of heretics with our colleagues and fellow-bishops, with whom we maintain a divine concord and the peace of the Lord; especially since the apostle says, "If any man, however, is thought to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the Church of God." Charity of spirit, the honour of our college, the bond of faith, and priestly concord, are maintained by us with patience and gentleness. For this reason, moreover, we have with the best of our poor abilities, with the permission and inspiration of the Lord, written a treatise on the "Benefit of Patience," which for the sake of our mutual love we have transmitted to you. I bid you, dearest brother, ever heartily farewell.” (Letter 72:1, 3-26, To Jubaianus)
Firmilian of Caesarea (d. c. 269)
5. But since that messenger sent by you was in haste to return to you, and the winter season was pressing, we replied what we could to your letter. And indeed, as respects what Stephen has said, as though the apostles forbade those who come from heresy to be baptized, and delivered this also to be observed by their successors, you have replied most abundantly, that no one is so foolish as to believe that the apostles delivered this, when it is even well known that these heresies themselves, execrable and detestable as they are, arose subsequently; when even Marcion the disciple of Cerdo is found to have introduced his sacrilegious tradition against God long after the apostles, and after long lapse of time from them. Apelles, also consenting to his blasphemy, added many other new and more important matters hostile to faith and truth. But also the time of Valentinus and Basilides is manifest, that they too, after the apostles, and after a long period, rebelled against the Church of God with their wicked lies. It is plain that the other heretics, also, afterwards introduced their evil sects and perverse inventions, even as every one was led by error; all of whom, it is evident, were self-condemned, and have declared against themselves an inevitable sentence before the day of judgment; and he who confirms the baptism of these, what else does he do but adjudge himself with them, and condemn himself, making himself a partaker with such?
6. But that they who are at Rome do not observe those things in all cases which are handed down from the beginning, and vainly pretend the authority of the apostles; any one may know also from the fact, that concerning the celebration of Easter, and concerning many other sacraments of divine matters, he may see that there are some diversities among them, and that all things are not observed among them alike, which are observed at Jerusalem, just as in very many other provinces also many things are varied because of the difference of the places and names. And yet on this account there is no departure at all from the peace and unity of the Catholic Church, such as Stephen has now dared to make; breaking the peace against you, which his predecessors have always kept with you in mutual love and honour, even herein defaming Peter and Paul the blessed apostles, as if the very men delivered this who in their epistles execrated heretics, and warned us to avoid them. Whence it appears that this tradition is of men which maintains heretics, and asserts that they have baptism, which belongs to the Church alone.
7. But, moreover, you have well answered that part where Stephen said in his letter that heretics themselves also are of one mind in respect of baptism; and that they do not baptize such as come to them from one another, but only communicate with them; as if we also ought to do this. In which place, although you have already proved that it is sufficiently ridiculous for any one to follow those that are in error, yet we add this moreover, over and above, that it is not wonderful for heretics to act thus, who, although in some lesser matters they differ, yet in that which is greatest they hold one and the same agreement to blaspheme the Creator, figuring for themselves certain dreams and phantasms of an unknown God. Assuredly it is but natural that these should agree in having a baptism which is unreal, in the same way as they agree in repudiating the truth of the divinity. Of whom, since it is tedious to reply to their several statements, either wicked or foolish, it is sufficient shortly to say in sum, that they who do not hold the true Lord the Father cannot hold the truth either of the Son or of the Holy Spirit; according to which also they who are called Cataphrygians, and endeavour to claim to themselves new prophecies, can have neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit, of whom, if we ask what Christ they announce, they will reply that they preach Him who sent the Spirit that speaks by Montanus and Prisca. And in these, when we observe that there has been not the spirit of truth, but of error, we know that they who maintain their false prophesying against the faith of Christ cannot have Christ. Moreover, all other heretics, if they have separated themselves from the Church of God, can have nothing of power or of grace, since all power and grace are established in the Church where the elders preside, who possess the power both of baptizing, and of imposition of hands, and of ordaining. For as a heretic may not lawfully ordain nor lay on hands, so neither may he baptize, nor do any thing holily or spiritually, since he is an alien from spiritual and deifying sanctity. All which we some time back confirmed in Iconium, which is a place in Phrygia, when we were assembled together with those who had gathered from Galatia and Cilicia, and other neighbouring countries, as to be held and firmly vindicated against heretics, when there was some doubt in certain minds concerning that matter.
8. And as Stephen and those who agree with him contend that putting away of sins and second birth may result from the baptism of heretics, among whom they themselves confess that the Holy Spirit is not; let them consider and understand that spiritual birth cannot be without the Spirit; in conformity with which also the blessed Apostle Paul baptized anew with a spiritual baptism those who had already been baptized by John before the Holy Spirit had been sent by the Lord, and so laid hands on them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. But what kind of a thing is it, that when we see that Paul, after John’s baptism, baptized his disciples again, we are hesitating to baptize those who come to the Church from heresy after their unhallowed and profane dipping. Unless, perchance, Paul was inferior to the bishops of these times, so that these indeed can by imposition of hands alone give the Holy Spirit to those heretics who come (to the Church), while Paul was not fitted to give the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands to those who had been baptized by John, unless he had first baptized them also with the baptism of the Church.
9. That, moreover, is absurd, that they do not think it is to be inquired who was the person that baptized, for the reason that he who has been baptized may have obtained grace by the invocation of the Trinity, of the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Then this will be the wisdom which Paul writes is in those who are perfected. But who in the Church is perfect and wise who can either defend or believe this, that this bare invocation of names is sufficient to the remission of sins and the sanctification of baptism; since these things are only then of advantage, when both he who baptizes has the Holy Spirit, and the baptism itself also is not ordained without the Spirit? But, say they, he who in any manner whatever is baptized without, may obtain the grace of baptism by his disposition and faith, which doubtless is ridiculous in itself, as if either a wicked disposition could attract to itself from heaven the sanctification of the righteous, or a false faith the truth of believers. But that not all who call on the name of Christ are heard, and that their invocation cannot obtain any grace, the Lord Himself manifests, saying, “Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” Because there is no difference between a false prophet and a heretic. For as the former deceives in the name of God or Christ, so the latter deceives in the sacrament of baptism. Both strive by falsehood to deceive men’s wills.
10. But I wish to relate to you some facts concerning a circumstance which occurred among us, pertaining to this very matter. About two-and-twenty years ago, in the times after the Emperor Alexander, there happened in these parts many struggles and difficulties, either in general to all men, or privately to Christians. Moreover, there were many and frequent earthquakes, so that many places were overthrown throughout Cappadocia and Pontus; even certain cities, dragged into the abyss, were swallowed up by the opening of the gaping earth. So that from this also a severe persecution arose against us of the Christian name; and this after the long peace of the previous age arose suddenly, and with its unusual evils was made more terrible for the disturbance of our people. Serenianus was then governor in our province, a bitter and terrible persecutor. But the faithful being set in this state of disturbance, and fleeing hither and thither for fear of the persecution, and leaving their country and passing over into other regions—for there was an opportunity of passing over, for the reason that that persecution was not over the whole world, but was local—there arose among us on a sudden a certain woman, who in a state of ecstasy announced herself as a prophetess, and acted as if filled with the Holy Ghost. And she was so moved by the impetus of the principal demons, that for a long time she made anxious and deceived the brotherhood, accomplishing certain wonderful and portentous things, and promised that she would cause the earth to be shaken. Not that the power of the demon was so great that he could prevail to shake the earth, or to disturb the elements; but that sometimes a wicked spirit, prescient, and perceiving that there will be an earthquake, pretends that he will do what he sees will happen. By these lies and boastings he had so subdued the minds of individuals, that they obeyed him and followed whithersoever he commanded and led. He would also make that woman walk in the keen winter with bare feet over frozen snow, and not to be troubled or hurt in any degree by that walking. Moreover, she would say that she was hurrying to Judea and to Jerusalem, feigning as if she had come thence. Here also she deceived one of the presbyters, a countryman, and another, a deacon, so that they had intercourse with that same woman, which was shortly afterwards detected. For on a sudden there appeared unto her one of the exorcists, a man approved and always of good conversation in respect of religious discipline; who, stimulated by the exhortation also of very many brethren who were themselves strong and praiseworthy in the faith, raised himself up against that wicked spirit to overcome it; which moreover, by its subtile fallacy, had predicted this a little while before, that a certain adverse and unbelieving tempter would come. Yet that exorcist, inspired by God’s grace, bravely resisted, and showed that that which was before thought holy, was indeed a most wicked spirit. But that woman, who previously by wiles and deceitfulness of the demon was attempting many things for the deceiving of the faithful, among other things by which she had deceived many, also had frequently dared this; to pretend that with an invocation not to be contemned she sanctified bread and celebrated the Eucharist, and to offer sacrifice to the Lord, not without the sacrament of the accustomed utterance; and also to baptize many, making use of the usual and lawful words of interrogation, that nothing might seem to be different from the ecclesiastical rule.
11. What, then, shall we say about the baptism of this woman, by which a most wicked demon baptized through means of a woman? Do Stephen and they who agree with him approve of this also especially when neither the symbol of the Trinity nor the legitimate and ecclesiastical interrogatory were wanting to her? Can it be believed that either remission of sins was given, or the regeneration of the saving laver duly completed, when all things, although after the image of truth, yet were done by a demon? Unless, perchance, they who defend the baptism of heretics contend that the demon also conferred the grace of baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Among them, no doubt, there is the same error—it is the very deceitfulness of devils, since among them the Holy Spirit is not at all.
12. Moreover, what is the meaning of that which Stephen would assert, that the presence and holiness of Christ is with those who are baptized among heretics? For if the apostle does not speak falsely when he says, “As many of you as are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ,” certainly he who has been baptized among them into Christ, has put on Christ. But if he has put on Christ, he might also receive the Holy Ghost, who was sent by Christ, and hands are vainly laid upon him who comes to us for the reception of the Spirit; unless, perhaps, he has not put on the Spirit from Christ, so that Christ indeed may be with heretics, but the Holy Spirit not be with them.
13. But let us briefly run through the other matters also, which were spoken of by you abundantly and most fully, especially as Rogatianus, our well-beloved deacon, is hurrying to you. For it follows that they must be asked by us, when they defend heretics, whether their baptism is carnal or spiritual. For if it is carnal, they differ in no respect from the baptism of the Jews, which they use in such a manner that in it, as if in a common and vulgar laver, only external filth is washed away. But if it is spiritual, how can baptism be spiritual among those among whom there is no Holy Spirit? And thus the water wherewith they are washed is to them only a carnal washing, not a sacrament of baptism.
14. But if the baptism of heretics can have the regeneration of the second birth, those who are baptized among them must be counted not heretics, but children of God. For the second birth, which occurs in baptism, begets sons of God. But if the spouse of Christ is one, which is the Catholic Church, it is she herself who alone bears sons of God. For there are not many spouses of Christ, since the apostle says, “I have espoused you, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ;” and, “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, for the King hath greatly desired thy beauty;” and, “Come with me, my spouse, from Lebanon; thou shalt come, and shalt pass over from the source of thy faith;” and, “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse.” We see that one person is everywhere set forward, because also the spouse is one. But the synagogue of heretics is not one with us, because the spouse is not an adulteress and a harlot. Whence also she cannot bear children of God; unless, as appears to Stephen, heresy indeed brings them forth and exposes them, while the Church takes them up when exposed, and nourishes those for her own whom she has not born, although she cannot be the mother of strange children. And therefore Christ our Lord, setting forth that His spouse is one, and declaring the sacrament of His unity, says, “He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” For if Christ is with us, but the heretics are not with us, certainly the heretics are in opposition to Christ; and if we gather with Christ, but the heretics do not gather with us, doubtless they scatter.
15. But neither must we pass over what has been necessarily remarked by you, that the Church, according to the Song of Songs, is a garden enclosed, and a fountain sealed, a paradise with the fruit of apples. They who have never entered into this garden, and have not seen the paradise planted by God the Creator, how shall they be able to afford to another the living water of the saving lava from the fountain which is enclosed within, and sealed with a divine seal? And as the ark of Noah was nothing else than the sacrament of the Church of Christ, which then, when all without were perishing, kept those only safe who were within the ark, we are manifestly instructed to look to the unity of the Church. Even as also the Apostle Peter laid down, saying, “Thus also shall baptism in like manner make you safe;” showing that as they who were not in the ark with Noah not only were not purged and saved by water, but at once perished in that deluge; so now also, whoever are not in the Church with Christ will perish outside, unless they are converted by penitence to the only and saving lava of the Church.
16. But what is the greatness of his error, and what the depth of his blindness, who says that remission of sins can be granted in the synagogues of heretics, and does not abide on the foundation of the one Church which was once based by Christ upon the rock, may be perceived from this, that Christ said to Peter alone, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And again, in the Gospel, when Christ breathed on the apostles alone, saying, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain they are retained.” Therefore the power of remitting sins was given to the apostles, and to the churches which they, sent by Christ, established, and to the bishops who succeeded to them by vicarious ordination. But the enemies of the one Catholic Church in which we are, and the adversaries of us who have succeeded the apostles, asserting for themselves, in opposition to us, unlawful priesthoods, and setting up profane altars, what else are they than Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, profane with a like wickedness, and about to suffer the same punishments which they did, as well as those who agree with them, just as their partners and abettors perished with a like death to theirs?
17. And in this respect I am justly indignant at this so open and manifest folly of Stephen, that he who so boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid, should introduce many other rocks and establish new buildings of many churches; maintaining that there is baptism in them by his authority. For they who are baptized, doubtless, fill up the number of the Church. But he who approves their baptism maintains, of those baptized, that the Church is also with them. Nor does he understand that the truth of the Christian Rock is overshadowed, and in some measure abolished, by him when he thus betrays and deserts unity. The apostle acknowledges that the Jews, although blinded by ignorance, and bound by the grossest wickedness, have yet a zeal for God. Stephen, who announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter, is stirred with no zeal against heretics, when he concedes to them, not a moderate, but the very greatest power of grace: so far as to say and assert that, by the sacrament of baptism, the filth of the old man is washed away by them, that they pardon the former mortal sins, that they make sons of God by heavenly regeneration, and renew to eternal life by the sanctification of the divine laver. He who concedes and gives up to heretics in this way the great and heavenly gifts of the Church, what else does he do but communicate with them for whom he maintains and claims so much grace? And now he hesitates in vain to consent to them, and to be a partaker with them in other matters also, to meet together with them, and equally with them to mingle their prayers, and appoint a common altar and sacrifice.
18. But, says he, “the name of Christ is of great advantage to faith and the sanctification of baptism; so that whosoever is anywhere so-ever baptized in the name of Christ, immediately obtains the grace of Christ:” although this position may be briefly met and answered, that if baptism without in the name of Christ availed for the cleansing of man; in the name of the same Christ, the imposition of hands might avail also for the reception of the Holy Spirit; and the other things also which are done among heretics will begin to seem just and lawful when they are done in the name of Christ; as you have maintained in your letter that the name of Christ could be of no avail except in the Church alone, to which alone Christ has conceded the power of heavenly grace.
19. But with respect to the refutation of custom which they seem to oppose to the truth, who is so foolish as to prefer custom to truth, or when he sees the light, not to forsake the darkness?—unless most ancient custom in any respect avail the Jews, upon the advent of Christ, that is, the Truth, in remaining in their old usage, and forsaking the new way of truth. And this indeed you Africans are able to say against Stephen, that when you knew the truth you forsook the error of custom. But we join custom to truth, and to the Romans’ custom we oppose custom, but the custom of truth; holding from the beginning that which was delivered by Christ and the apostles. Nor do we remember that this at any time began among us, since it has always been observed here, that we knew none but one Church of God, and accounted no baptism holy except that of the holy Church. Certainly, since some doubted about the baptism of those who, although they receive the new prophets, yet appear to recognise the same Father and Son with us; very many of us meeting together in Iconium very carefully examined the matter, and we decided that every baptism was altogether to be rejected which is arranged for without the Church.
20. But to what they allege and say on behalf of the heretics, that the apostle said, “Whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached,” it is idle for us to reply; when it is manifest that the apostle, in his epistle wherein he said this, made mention neither of heretics nor of baptism of heretics, but spoke of brethren only, whether as perfidiously speaking in agreement with himself, or as persevering in sincere faith; nor is it needful to discuss this in a long argument, but it is sufficient to read the epistle itself, and to gather from the apostle himself what the apostle said.
21. What then, say they, will become of those who, coming from the heretics, have been received without the baptism of the Church? If they have departed this life, they are reckoned in the number of those who have been catechumens indeed among us, but have died before they were baptized,—no trifling advantage of truth and faith, to which they had attained by forsaking error, although, being prevented by death, they had not gained the consummation of grace. But they who still abide in life should be baptized with the baptism of the Church, that they may obtain remission of sins, lest by the presumption of others they remain in their old error, and die without the completion of grace. But what a crime is theirs on the one hand who receive, or on the other, theirs who are received, that their foulness not being washed away by the laver of the Church, nor their sins put away, communion being rashly seized, they touch the body and blood of the Lord, although it is written, “Whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord!”
22. We have judged, that those also whom they, who had formerly been bishops in the Catholic Church, and afterwards had assumed to themselves the power of clerical ordination, had baptized, are to be regarded as not baptized. And this is observed among us, that whosoever dipped by them come to us are baptized among us as strangers and having obtained nothing, with the only and true baptism of the Catholic Church, and obtain the regeneration of the laver of life. And yet there is a great difference between him who unwillingly and constrained by the necessity of persecution has given way, and him who with a profane will boldly rebels against the Church, or with impious voice blasphemes against the Father and God of Christ and the Creator of the whole world. And Stephen is not ashamed to assert and to say that remission of sins can be granted by those who are themselves set fast in all kinds of sins, as if in the house of death there could be the laver of salvation.
23. What, then, is to be made of what is written, “Abstain from strange water, and drink not from a strange fountain,” if, leaving the sealed fountain of the Church, you take up strange water for your own, and pollute the Church with unhallowed fountains? For when you communicate with the baptism of heretics, what else do you do than drink from their slough and mud; and while you yourself are purged with the Church’s sanctification, you become befouled with the contact of the filth of others? And do you not fear the judgment of God when you are giving testimony to heretics in opposition to the Church, although it is written, “A false witness shall not be unpunished?” But indeed you are worse than all heretics. For when many, as soon as their error is known, come over to you from them that they may receive the true light of the Church, you assist the errors of those who come, and, obscuring the light of ecclesiastical truth, you heap up the darkness of the heretical night; and although they confess that they are in sins, and have no grace, and therefore come to the Church, you take away from them remission of sins, which is given in baptism, by saying that they are already baptized and have obtained the grace of the Church outside the Church, and you do not perceive that their souls will be required at your hands when the day of judgment shall come, for having denied to the thirsting the drink of the Church, and having been the occasion of death to those that were desirious of living. And, after all this, you are indignant!
24. Consider with what want of judgment you dare to blame those who strive for the truth against falsehood. For who ought more justly to be indignant against the other?—whether he who supports God’s enemies, or he who, in opposition to him who supports God’s enemies, unites with us on behalf of the truth of the Church?—except that it is plain that the ignorant are also excited and angry, because by the want of counsel and discourse they are easily turned to wrath; so that of none more than of you does divine Scripture say, “A wrathful man stirreth up strifes, and a furious man heapeth up sins.” For what strifes and dissensions have you stirred up throughout the churches of the whole world! Moreover, how great sin have you heaped up for yourself, when you cut yourself off from so many flocks! For it is yourself that you have cut off. Do not deceive yourself, since he is really the schismatic who has made himself an apostate from the communion of ecclesiastical unity. For while you think that all may be excommunicated by you, you have excommunicated yourself alone from all; and not even the precepts of an apostle have been able to mould you to the rule of truth and peace, although he warned, and said, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.”
25. How carefully has Stephen fulfilled these salutary commands and warnings of the apostle, keeping in the first place lowliness of mind and meekness! For what is more lowly or meek than to have disagreed with so many bishops throughout the whole world, breaking peace with each one of them in various kinds of discord: at one time with the eastern churches, as we are sure you know; at another time with you who are in the south, from whom he received bishops as messengers sufficiently patiently and meekly not to receive them even to the speech of an ordinary conference; and even more, so mindful of love and charity as to command the entire fraternity, that no one should receive them into his house, so that not only peace and communion, but also a shelter and entertainment, were denied to them when they came! This is to have kept the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, to cut himself off from the unity of love, and to make himself a stranger in all respects from his brethren, and to rebel against the sacrament and the faith with the madness of contumacious discord! With such a man can there be one Spirit and one body, in whom perchance there is not even one mind, so slippery, and shifting, and uncertain is it?
26. But as far as he is concerned, let us leave him; let us rather deal with that concerning which there is the greatest question. They who contend that persons baptized among the heretics ought to be received as if they had obtained the grace of lawful baptism, say that baptism is one and the same to them and to us, and differs in no respect. But what says the Apostle Paul? “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.” If the baptism of heretics be one and the same with ours, without doubt their faith also is one; but if our faith is one, assuredly also we have one Lord: if there is one Lord, it follows that we say that He is one. But if this unity which cannot be separated and divided at all, is itself also among heretics, why do we contend any more? Why do we call them heretics and not Christians? Moreover, since we and heretics have not one God, nor one Lord, nor one Church, nor one faith, nor even one Spirit, nor one body, it is manifest that neither can baptism be common to us with heretics, since between us there is nothing at all in common. And yet Stephen is not ashamed to afford patronage to such in opposition to the Church, and for the sake of maintaining heretics to divide the brotherhood and in addition, to call Cyprian “a false Christ and a false apostle, and a deceitful worker.” And he, conscious that all these characters are in himself, has been in advance of you, by falsely objecting to another those things which he himself ought deservedly to hear. We all bid you, for all our sakes, with all the bishops who are in Africa, and all the clergy, and all the brotherhood, farewell; that, constantly of one mind, and thinking the same thing, we may find you united with us even though afar off. (Epistle To Cyprian Of Carthage [Epistle 74:5-26 In The Collected Epistles Of Cyprian])
Pseudo-Tertullian (3rd Century?)
“Other heretics swell the list who are called Cataphrygians, but their teaching is not uniform. For there are (of them) some who are called Cataproclans; there are others who are termed Cataeschinetans. These have a blasphemy common, and a blasphemy not common, but peculiar and special. The common blasphemy lies in their saying that the Holy Spirit was in the apostles indeed, the Paraclete was not; and in their saying that the Paraclete has spoken in Montanus more things than Christ brought forward into (the compass of) the Gospel, and not merely more, but likewise better and greater. But the particular one they who follow Aeschines have; this, namely, whereby they add this, that they affirm Christ to be Himself Son and Father.” (Against All Heresies, 7)
“But some, enticed by the prediction of false prophets, concerning whom both the true prophets and he himself had foretold, fell away from the knowledge of God, and left the true tradition. But all of these, ensnared by frauds of demons, which they ought to have foreseen and guarded against, by their carelessness lost the name and worship of God. For when they are called Phrygians, or Novatians, or Valentinians, or Marcionites, or Anthropians, or Arians, or by any other name they have ceased to be Christians, who have lost the name of Christ, and assumed human and external names. Therefore it is the Catholic Church alone which retains true worship.” (The Divine Institutes, 4:30)
Eusebius Of Caesarea (c.260-c.337)
is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in
“We have understood that at this time Cerinthus, the author of another heresy, made his appearance. Caius, whose words we quoted above, in the Disputation which is ascribed to him, writes as follows concerning this man: “But Cerinthus also, by means of revelations which he pretends were written by a great apostle, brings before us marvelous things which he falsely claims were shown him by angels; and he says that after the resurrection the kingdom of Christ will be set up on earth, and that the flesh dwelling in Jerusalem will again be subject to desires and pleasures. And being an enemy of the Scriptures of God, he asserts, with the purpose of deceiving men, that there is to be a period of a thousand years a for marriage festivals.” (Ecclesiastical History, 3:28)
“And in the Dialogue of Caius which we mentioned a little above, Proclus, against whom he directed his disputation, in agreement with what has been quoted, speaks thus concerning the death of Philip and his daughters: “After him there were four prophetesses, the daughters of Philip, at Hierapolis in Asia. Their tomb is there and the tomb of their father.” Such is his statement.” (Ecclesiastical History, 3:31)
“A number of works of Apolinarius have been preserved by many, and the following have reached us: the Discourse addressed to the above-mentioned emperor, five books Against the Greeks, On Truth, a first and second book, and those which he subsequently wrote against the heresy of the Phrygians, which not long afterwards came out with its innovations, but at that time was, as it were, in its incipiency, since Montanus, with his false prophetesses, was then laying the foundations of his error.” (Ecclesiastical History, 4:27)
followers of Montanus, Alcibiades and Theodotus in Phrygia were now first
giving wide circulation to their assumption in regard to prophecy, — for the
many other miracles that, through the gift of God, were still wrought in the
different churches caused their prophesying to be readily credited by many, —
and as dissension arose concerning them, the brethren in Gaul set forth their
own prudent and most orthodox judgment in the matter, and published also
several epistles from the witnesses that had been put to death among them.
These they sent, while they were still in prison, to the brethren throughout
Asia and Phrygia, and also to Eleutherus, who was then bishop of
“The enemy of God's Church, who is emphatically a hater of good and a lover of evil, and leaves untried no manner of craft against men, was again active in causing strange heresies to spring up against the Church. For some persons, like venomous reptiles, crawled over Asia and Phrygia, boasting that Montanus was the Paraclete, and that the women that followed him, Priscilla and Maximilla, were prophetesses of Montanus.” (Ecclesiastical History, 5:14)
“Against the so-called Phrygian heresy, the power which always contends for the truth raised up a strong and invincible weapon, Apolinarius of Hierapolis, whom we have mentioned before, and with him many other men of ability, by whom abundant material for our history has been left. A certain one of these, in the beginning of his work against them, first intimates that he had contended with them in oral controversies. He commences his work in this manner:
"Having for a very long and
sufficient time, O beloved Avircius Marcellus, been
urged by you to write a treatise against the heresy of those who are called
after Miltiades, 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. But being recently in Ancyra in
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:
opposition and their recent heresy which has separated them from the Church
arose on the following account. There is said to be a certain village called Ardabau in that part of Mysia,
which borders upon
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. For the faithful in Asia met often in many places
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:
"Since, therefore, they called us slayers of the prophets because we did not receive their loquacious prophets, who, they say, are those that the Lord promised to send to the people, 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. 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; 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. So also, as general report says, that remarkable person, the first steward, 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? 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."
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. He writes as follows:
"And let not the spirit, in the same work of Asterius Urbanus, say through Maximilla, ' I am driven away from the sheep like a wolf. 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 and bishops, Zoticus, from the village Comana and Julian, from Apamea, whose mouths the followers of Themiso muzzled, refusing to per-knit the false and seductive spirit to be refuted by them."
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:
"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."
These things are taken from the second book. 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. 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:
"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, 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
“In this work he mentions a writer, Miltiades, stating that he also wrote a certain book against the above-mentioned heresy. After quoting some of their words, he adds:
"Having found these things in a certain work of theirs in opposition to the work of the brother Alcibiades, in which he shows that a prophet ought not to speak in ecstasy, I made an abridgment."
A little further on in the same
work he gives a list of those who prophesied under the new covenant, among
whom he enumerates a certain Ammia and Quadratus, saying "But the false prophet falls into
an ecstasy, in which he is without shame or fear. Beginning with purposed
ignorance, he passes on, as has been stated, involuntary madness of soul.
They cannot show that one of the old or one of the new prophets was thus carried
away in spirit. Neither can they boast of Agabus,
or Judas, or Silas, or the daughters of Philip, or Ammia
And again after a little he says:
"For if after Quadratus
and Ammia in
He writes thus. But the Miltiades to whom he refers has left other monuments of his own zeal for the Divine Scriptures, in the discourses which he composed against the Greeks and against the Jews, answering each of them separately in two books. And in addition he addresses an apology to the earthly rulers, in behalf of the philosophy which he embraced.” (Ecclesiastical History, 5:17)
“As the so-called
Phrygian heresy was still flourishing in
"His actions and his teaching show who this new teacher is. This is he who taught the dissolution of marriage; who made laws for fasting; who named Pepuza and Tymion, small towns in Phrygia, Jerusalem, wishing to gather people to them from all directions; who appointed collectors of money; who contrived the receiving of gifts under the name of offerings; who provided salaries for those who preached his doctrine, that its teaching might prevail through gluttony."
He writes thus concerning Montanus; and a little farther on he writes as follows concerning his prophetesses:
"We show that these first prophetesses themselves, as soon as they were filled with the Spirit, abandoned their husbands. How falsely therefore they speak who call Prisca a virgin."
Afterwards he says:
"Does not all Scripture seem to you to forbid a prophet to receive gifts and money? When therefore I see the prophetess receiving gold and silver and costly garments, how can I avoid reproving her?"
And again a little farther on he speaks thus concerning one of their confessors:
"So also Themiso, who was clothed with plausible covetousness, could not endure the sign of confession, but threw aside bonds for an abundance of possessions. Yet, though he should have been humble on this account, he dared to boast as a martyr, and in imitation of the apostle, he wrote a certain catholic epistle, to instruct those whose faith was better than his own, contending for words of empty sound, and blaspheming against the Lord and the apostles and the holy Church."
And again concerning others of those honored among them as martyrs, he writes as follows:
"Not to speak of many, let the
prophetess herself tell us of Alexander, who called himself a martyr, with
whom she is in the habit of banqueting, and who is worshiped by many. We need
not mention his robberies and other daring deeds for which he was punished,
but the archives contain them. Which of these forgives the sins of the other?
Does the prophet the robberies of the martyr, or the: martyr the covetousness
of the prophet? For although the Lord said, 'Provide neither gold, nor
silver, neither two coats,' these men, in complete opposition, transgress in
respect to the possession of the forbidden things. For we will show that
those whom they call prophets and martyrs gather their gain not only from
rich men, but also from the poor, and orphans, and widows. But if they are
confident, let them stand up and discuss these matters, that if convicted
they may hereafter cease transgressing. For the fruits of the prophet must be
tried; 'for the tree is known by its fruit.' But that those who wish may know
concerning Alexander, he was tried by Aemilius Frontinus, proconsul at
Again, in another part of his work he speaks as follows of the prophets of whom they boast:
"If they deny that their prophets have received gifts, let them acknowledge this: that if they are convicted of receiving them, they are not prophets. And we will bring a multitude of proofs of this. But it is necessary that all the fruits of a prophet should be examined. Tell me, does a prophet dye his hair? Does a prophet stain his eyelids? Does a prophet delight in adornment? Does a prophet play with tables and dice? Does a prophet lend on usury? Let them confess whether these things are lawful or not; but I will show that they have been done by them."
This same Apollonius states in the same work that, at the time of his writing, it was the fortieth year since Montanus had begun his pretended prophecy. And he says also that Zoticus, who was mentioned by the former writer, when Maximilla was pretending to prophesy in Pepuza, resisted her and endeavored to refute the spirit that was working in her; but was prevented by those who agreed with her. He mentions also a certain Thraseas among the martyrs of that time.
He speaks, moreover, of a tradition
that the Saviour commanded his apostles not to
“Serapion, who, as
report says, succeeded Maximinus at that time as
bishop of the
"That you may see that the doings of this lying band of the new prophecy, so called, are an abomination to all the brotherhood throughout the world, I have sent you writings of the most blessed Claudius Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia."
In the same letter of Serapion the signatures of several bishops are found, one of whom subscribes himself as follows:
"I, Aurelius Cyrenius, a witness, pray for your health."
And another in this manner:
"Aelius Publius Julius, bishop of Debeltum,
a colony of
And the autograph signatures of many other bishops who agreed with them are contained in the same letter. So much for these persons.” (Ecclesiastical History, 5:19)
“There flourished many learned men in the Church at that
time, whose letters to each other have been preserved and are easily
accessible. They have been kept until our time in the library at Aelia, which
was established by Alexander, who at that time presided over that church. We
have been able to gather from that library material for our present work.
Among these Beryllus has left us, besides letters and treatises, various
elegant works. He was bishop of Bostra in
“And again there are also many treatises by Apollinaris which are still preserved in the possession of many; but those which have been seen by us are the following----One, which is the Apology, that was made to the same Emperor of whom we have spoken above; and Against the Heathen five books; and Against the Jews two books; and those which he composed afterwards against the heresy of the Phrygians, which had recently sprung up a little time before, because then Montanus, together with the false prophetesses which were attached to him, had begun to turn aside from the truth.” (Ecclesiastical History, Syriac Version, Book 4)
“When He sat on the mount of Olives, His Disciples drew near, saying between themselves and Him, Tell us, ‘When shall these things be?’ and ‘What is the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’ And Jesus answered them, and said, ‘See that no man deceive you: for many shall come in my name, and shall say, I am the Christ; and shall deceive many’…And there were many [such who came] after [these] His words. And so the Samaritans were forthwith persuaded that Dositheus, who was after the times of our Saviour, was the prophet of whom Moses predicted. And he so deceived them, that they declared he was the Christ. Others again, in the times of the Apostles, named Simon Magus "the great power of God" and thought that he was the Christ. Others [thought the same] of Montanus in Phrygia: and others again, of others, in another place. Nor did the deceivers cease.” (Theophania, 4:35)
“Thus [by Emperor Constantine’s edict against heretics*] were the lurking-places of the heretics broken up by the emperor's command, and the savage beasts they harbored (I mean the chief authors of their impious doctrines) driven to flight. Of those whom they had deceived, some, intimidated by the emperor's threats, disguising their real sentiments, crept secretly into the Church. For since the law directed that search should be made for their books, those of them who practiced evil and forbidden arts were detected, and these were ready to secure their own safety by dissimulation of every kind. Others, however, there were, who voluntarily and with real sincerity embraced a better hope. Meantime the prelates of the several churches continued to make strict inquiry, utterly rejecting those who attempted an entrance under the specious disguise of false pretenses, while those who came with sincerity of purpose were proved for a time, and after sufficient trial numbered with the congregation. Such was the treatment of those who stood charged with rank heresy: those, however, who maintained no impious doctrine, but had been separated from the one body through the influence of schismatic advisers, were received without difficulty or delay. Accordingly, numbers thus revisited, as it were, their own country after an absence in a foreign land, and acknowledged the Church as a mother from whom they had wandered long, and to whom they now returned with joy and gladness. Thus the members of the entire body became united, and compacted in one harmonious whole; and the one catholic Church, at unity with itself, shone with full luster, while no heretical or schismatic body anywhere continued to exist. And the credit of having achieved this mighty work our Heaven-protected emperor alone, of all who had gone before him, was able to attribute to himself.” (Life Of Constantine, 3:66)
*See the entry for Constantine I below.
Constantine I, The Great (c.280-337)
“Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics.
Understand now, by this present statute, ye Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Paulians, ye who are called Cataphrygians, and all ye who devise and support heresies by means of your private assemblies, with what a tissue of falsehood and vanity, with what destructive and venomous errors, your doctrines are inseparably interwoven; so that through you the healthy soul is stricken with disease, and the living becomes the prey of everlasting death. Ye haters and enemies of truth and life, in league with destruction! All your counsels are opposed to the truth, but familiar with deeds of baseness; full of absurdities and fictions: and by these ye frame falsehoods, oppress the innocent, and withhold the light from them that believe. Ever trespassing under the mask of godliness, ye fill all things with defilement: ye pierce the pure and guileless conscience with deadly wounds, while ye withdraw, one may almost say, the very light of day from the eyes of men. But why should I particularize, when to speak of your criminality as it deserves demands more time and leisure than I can give? For so long and unmeasured is the catalogue of your offenses, so hateful and altogether atrocious are they, that a single day would not suffice to recount them all. And, indeed, it is well to turn one’s ears and eyes from such a subject, lest by a description of each particular evil, the pure sincerity and freshness of one’s own faith be impaired. Why then do I still bear with such abounding evil; especially since this protracted clemency is the cause that some who were sound are become tainted with this pestilent disease? Why not at once strike, as it were, at the root of so great a mischief by a public manifestation of displeasure?
Forasmuch, then, as it is no longer
possible to bear with your pernicious errors, we give warning by this present
statute that none of you henceforth presume to assemble yourselves together.
We have directed, accordingly, that you be deprived of all the houses in
which you are accustomed to hold your assemblies: and our care in this
respect extends so far as to forbid the holding of your superstitious and
senseless meetings, not in public merely, but in any private house or place
whatsoever. Let those of you, therefore, who are desirous of embracing the
true and pure religion, take the far better course
of entering the catholic Church, and uniting with it in holy fellowship,
whereby you will be enabled to arrive at the knowledge of the truth. In any
case, the delusions of your perverted understandings must entirely cease to
mingle with and mar the felicity of our present times: I mean the impious and
wretched double-mindedness of heretics and schismatics. For it is an object
worthy of that prosperity which we enjoy through the favor of God, to
endeavor to bring back those who in time past were living in the hope of
future blessing, from all irregularity and error to the right path, from
darkness to light, from vanity to truth, from death to salvation. And in
order that this remedy may be applied with effectual power, we have
commanded, as before said, that you be positively deprived of every gathering
point for your superstitious meetings, I mean all the houses of prayer, if
such be worthy of the name, which belong to heretics, and that these be made
over without delay to the catholic Church; that any other places be
confiscated to the public service, and no facility whatever be left for any
future gathering; in order that from this day forward none of your unlawful
assemblies may presume to appear in any public or private place. Let this
edict be made public.” (Edict Against
The Heretics in Eusebius of Caesarea’s
The Martyrdom Of Pionius (3rd-5th Century)
“The crowd pressed them so that they were muffled, and after Pionius had said this, they took them with difficulty, handed them over to the jailers, and put them in prison. As they entered the prison they found a presbyter of the Catholic Church by the name of Limnus who had been imprisoned there, a Macedonian woman who was from the town of Karine, and a man named Eutychian who was from the sect of the Phrygians.” (The Martyrdom Of Pionius, 11)
Athanasius Of Alexandria (c.296-373)
“Yes surely; while all of us are and are called Christians after Christ, Marcion broached a heresy a long time since and was cast out; and those who continued with him who ejected him remained Christians; but those who followed Marcion were called Christians no more, but henceforth Marcionites. Thus Valentinus also, and Basilides, and Manichæus, and Simon Magus, have imparted their own name to their followers; and some are accosted as Valentinians, or as Basilidians, or as Manichees, or as Simonians; and other, Cataphrygians from Phrygia, and from Novatus Novatians.” (Four Discourses Against The Arians, Discourse 1:1:3)
“There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in a right sense, as I have said, nor with sound faith, and in consequence the water which they administer is unprofitable, as deficient in piety, so that he who is sprinkled by them is rather polluted by irreligion than redeemed. So Gentiles also, though the name of God is on their lips, incur the charge of Atheism, because they know not the real and very God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So Manichees and Phrygians, and the disciples of the Samosatene, though using the Names, nevertheless are heretics, and the Arians follow in the same course, though they read the words of Scripture, and use the Names, yet they too mock those who receive the rite from them, being more irreligious than the other heresies, and advancing beyond them, and making them seem innocent by their own recklessness of speech. For these other heresies lie against the truth in some certain respect, either erring concerning the Lord’s Body, as if He did not take flesh of Mary, or as if He has not died at all, nor become man, but only appeared, and was not truly, and seemed to have a body when He had not, and seemed to have the shape of man, as visions in a dream; but the Arians are without disguise irreligious against the Father Himself.” (Four Discourses Against The Arians, Discourse 2:14:43)
“This is sufficient to confute them; but to shew still further that they are hostile to the truth and Christ’s enemies, I could wish to ask them a question. The Apostle in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians writes, ‘I knew a man in Christ, above fourteen years ago, whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know; God knoweth.’ What now say ye? Knew the Apostle what had happened to him in the vision, though he says ‘I know not,’ or knew he not? If he knew not, see to it, lest, being familiar with error, ye err in the trespass of the Phrygians, who say that the Prophets and the other ministers of the Word know neither what they do nor concerning what they announce.” (Four Discourses Against The Arians, Discourse 3:28:47)
“The boldness then of their design shews how little they understand the subject; while the novelty of their phrase matches the Arian heresy. For thus they shew, when it was they began their own faith, and that from that same time present they would have it proclaimed. And as according to the Evangelist Luke, there ‘was made a decree’ (Luke ii. 1) concerning the taxing, and this decree before was not, but began from those days in which it was made by its framer, they also in like manner, by writing, ‘The Faith is now published,’ shewed that the sentiments of their heresy are novel, and were not before. But if they add ‘of the Catholic Faith,’ they fall before they know it into the extravagance of the Phrygians, and say with them, ‘To us first was revealed,’ and ‘from us dates the Faith of Christians.’ And as those inscribe it with the names of Maximilla and Montanus, so do these with ‘Constantius, Master,’ instead of Christ. If, however, as they would have it, the faith dates from the present Consulate, what will the Fathers do, and the blessed Martyrs? nay, what will they themselves do with their own catechumens, who departed to rest before this Consulate? how will they wake them up, that so they may obliterate their former lessons, and may sow in turn the seeming discoveries which they have now put into writing? So ignorant they are on the subject; with no knowledge but that of making excuses, and those unbecoming and unplausible, and carrying with them their own refutation.” (De Synodis Part 1:4)
“To Gracilianus, Prefect of the City.
Privileges granted in consideration of religion should only benefit those who observe the rules of the Catholic Faith. We do not wish heretics to absolutely be excluded from these privileges, but that they should merely be restrained, and compelled to accept employment for which the said privileges afford exemption.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:1)
Pacian of Barcelona (c.310-391)
“Pacian to Sympronian his brother, greeting.
1. If it be not a carnal intention, my lord, but as I judge, a calling of the Spirit, that thou enquirest of us the faith of the Catholic verity, thou, before all, taking thy rise as far as appears, from a streamlet at a distance, and not holding to the fountain and source of the principal Church, shouldest, in the first instance, have shewn what or how different are the opinions which thou followest. Thou shouldest unfold thyself as to what cause more particularly had loosened thee from the unity of our body. For those parts, for which a remedy is sought, should be laid bare. Whereas now (if I may so say) the bosom of correspondence being closed, we see not on what members more especially we have to bestow our care. For such are the heresies which have sprung forth from the Christian head, that of the mere names the roll would be immense. For to pass over the heretics of the Jews, Dositheus the Samaritan, the Sadducees, and the Pharisees, it were long to enumerate how many grew up in the times of the Apostles, Simon Magus, and Menander, and Nicolaus, and others hidden by an inglorious fame. What again in later times were Ebion, and Apelles, and Marcion, and Valentinus, and Cerdon, and not long after them, the Cataphrygians, and Novatians, not to notice any recent swarms!
2. Whom then in my letters must I first refute? Wouldest thou the mere names of all, my paper will not contain them; unless indeed by your writings every way condemnatory of penance you declare your agreement with the Phrygians. But, most illustrious Lord, so manifold and so diverse is the error of these very men, that in them we have not only to overthrow their peculiar fancies against penance, but to cut off the heads, as it were, of some Lernaean monster. And, in the first place, they rely on more founders than one, for I suppose Blastus the Greek is of them; Theodotus also and Praxeas were once teachers of your party, themselves also Phrygians of some celebrity, who falsely say they are inspired of Leucius, boast that they are instructed by Proculus. Following Montanus, and Maximilla, and Priscilla, howmanifold controversies have they raised concerning the day of Easter, the Paraclete, Apostles, Prophets, and many other disputes, as this also concerning the Catholic name, the pardon of penance.
3. Wherefore if we would discuss all these points, thou hadst need been present and teachable. But if on those points merely on which thou writest, my instruction should not be sufficiently full, yet as it is our duty to serve, in whatsoever way we can, those who solemnly adjure us, we now, for the sake of informing you, discourse with thee summarily on those matters about which thou hast deigned to write to us. If thou wouldest have fuller knowledge on our side, thou must on thine declare thyself more unreservedly, lest by somewhat of obscurity in thy enquiries, thou leave us uncertain, whether thou art consulting or censuring.
4. Meanwhile (and this concerns our present correspondence) I would above all entreat thee not to borrow authority for error from this very fact that, as thou sayest, throughout the whole world no one has been found, who could convince or persuade thee contrary to what thou believest. For although we be unskilled, most skilful is the Spirit of God, and if we are faithless, faithful is God, Who cannot deny Himself. Then, also, because it was not allowed the Priests of God to contend long with one who resisted. We, says the Apostle, have no such custom, neither the churches of God. After one admonition, as thou thyself knowest, the contentious is passed by. For who can persuade any of any thing against his will? Thine own fault was it therefore, brother, and not theirs, if no one convinced thce of what in itself is most excellent. For at this day too it is in thy power to despise our writings also, if thou hadst rather refute than approve them. Yet very many resisted both the Lord Himself, and the Apostles, nor could any ever be persuaded of the truth, unless he consented to it by his own religious feeling.
5. Therefore, my Lord, neither have we written with that confidence, as though we could persuade thee, if thou resistest, but in that faith by which we would not deny thee an entrance to holy peace, if thou wiliest. Which peace if it be after thine own soul and heart, there ought to be no contest about the name of Catholic. For if it is through God that our people obtain this name, no question is to be raised, when Divine authority is followed. If through man, you must discover when it was first taken. Then, if the name is good, no odium rests with it; if ill, it need not be envied. The Novatians, I hear, are called after Novatus or Novatian; yet it is the sect which I accuse in them, not the name: nor has any one objected their name to Montanus or the Phrygians.
5. But under the Apostles, you will say, no one was called Catholic. Be it thus. It shall have been so. Allow even that. When after the Apostles heresies had burst forth, and were striving under various names to tear piecemeal and divide the Dove and the Queen of God, did not the Apostolic people require a name of their own, whereby to mark the unity of the people that were uncorrupted, lest the error of some should rend limb by limb the undefiled virgin of God? Was it not seemly that the chief head should be distinguished by its own peculiar appellation? Suppose, this very day, I entered a populous city. When I had found Marcionites, Apollinarians, Cataphrygians, Novatians, and others of the kind who call themselves Christians, by what name should I recognise the congregation of my own people, unless it were named Catholic? Come tell me, who bestowed so many names on the other peoples? Why have so many cities, so many nations, each their own description? The man who asks the meaning of the Catholic Name, will he be ignorant himself of the cause of his own name if I shall enquire its origin? Whence was it delivered to me? Certainly that which has stood through so many ages was not borrowed from man. This name "Catholic" sounds not of Marcion, nor of Apelles, nor of Montanus, nor does it take heretics as its authors.
7. Many things the Holy Spirit hath taught us, Whom God sent from Heaven to the Apostles as their Comforter and Guide. Many things reason teaches us, as Paul saith, and honesty, and, as he says, nature herself. What! Is the authority of Apostolic men, of Primitive Priests, of the most blessed Martyr and Doctor Cyprian, of slight weight with us? Do we wish to teach the teacher? Are we wiser than he was, and are we puffed up by the spirit of the flesh against the man, whom his noble shedding of blood, and a crown of most glorious suffering, have set forth as a witness of the Eternal God? What thinkest thou of so many Priests on this same side, who throughout the whole world were compacted together in one bond of peace with this same Cyprian? What of so many aged Bishops, so many Martyrs, so many Confessors? Come say, if they were not sufficient authorities for the use of this name, are we sufficient for its rejection? And shall the Fathers rather follow our authority, and the antiquity of Saints give way to be emended by us, and times now putrifying through their sins, pluck out the grey hairs of Apostolic age? And yet, my brother, be not troubled; Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. The former gives me a name, the latter distinguishes me. By the one I am approved; by the other I am but marked.
8. And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and draw it out from the Greek by a Latin interpretation, "Catholic" is 'every where one,' or, (as learned men think,) "obedience in all," i. e. all the commands of God. Whence the Apostle, Whether ye he obedient in all things; and again, For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same man is obedient. He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian. Wherefore our people when named Catholic are separated by this appellation from the heretical name. But if also the word Catholic means 'every where one,' as those first think, David indicates this very thing, when he saith, The queen did stand in a vesture of gold, wrought about with, divers colours; that is, one amidst all. And in the Song of Songs the Bridegroom speaketh these words, My dove, My undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her. Again it is written, The virgins shall be brought unto the King after her. And further, Virgins without number. Therefore amidst all she is one, and one over all. If thou askest the reason of the name, it is evident.
9. But as to penance, God grant that it may be necessary for none of the faithful; that no one after the help of the sacred font may fall into the pit of death, and that Priests may not be compelled to inculcate or to teach its tardy consolations, lest, whilst by remedies they soothe the sinner, they open a road to sin. But we lay open this indulgence of our God to the miserable, not to the happy; not before sin, but after sins; nor do we announce a medicine to the whole, but to the sick. If spiritual wickednesses have no power over the baptized, none, that fraud of the serpent, which subverted the first man, which hath printed on his posterity so many marks of condemnation: if it hath retired from the world, if we have already begun to reign, if no crime steals over our eyes, none over our hands, none over our minds, then let this gift of God be cast aside, this help rejected; be no confession, no groans, heard; let a proud righteousness despise every remedy.
10. But if the Lord Himself hath provided these things for His own creature man, if the same Lord Who hath bestowed remedies on the fallen, hath given rewards to them that stand, cease to accuse the Divine goodness, to erase by the interposition of your own rigour so many inscriptions of heavenly mercy, or by inexorable harshness to prohibit the gratuitous good gifts of the Lord. This is not a largess from our own bounty. Turn ye, saith the Lord, even to Me, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart; and again, Let the wicked man leave his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and turn unto the Lord, and he shall obtain mercy. And also after this manner crieth the Prophet, For He is gracious, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Hath the serpent so lasting a poison, and hath not Christ a remedy? Doth the Devil kill in the world, and hath Christ no power here to help? Be we indeed ashamed to sin, but not ashamed to repent. Be we ashamed to hazard ourselves, but not ashamed to be delivered. Who will snatch the plank from the shipwrecked, that he escape not? Who will grudge the curing of a wound? Doth not David say, Every night I will wash my bed, I will water my couch with my tears; and again, I acknowledge my sin, and mine unrighteousness have I not hid; and yet more, I said, I will confess my sins unto the Lord, and so Thou forgavest the wickedness of my heart. Did not the Prophet answer him when, after the guilt of murder and adultery, penitent for Bathsheba, The Lord also hath put away from thee thy sin? Did not confession deliver the king of Babylon, when condemned after so many sins of idolatry? And what is it that the Lord saith, Shall he who has fallen not arise, and he who has turned not return? What answer give the subjects of those many parables of our Lord? That the woman findeth the coin, and rejoiceth when she hath found it? That the shepherd carrieth back the wandering sheep? That when the son was returning, all his goods wasted in riotous living with harlots and fornicators, the Father with kindness met him, and, assigning the grounds, chideth the , envious brother, saying, This My son was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and is found. What of him who was wounded in the way, whom Levite and Priest passed by? Is he not taken care of?
11. Ponder what the Spirit saith to the Churches. The Ephesians He accuses of having forsaken their love; to them of Thyatira He imputeth fornication; the people of Sardis He blameth as loitering in the work; those of Pergamus as teaching things contrary; of the Laodiceans He brandeth the riches; and yet He calleth all to penance and to satisfaction. What meaneth the Apostle, when he writeth to the Corinthians thus, Lest, when I come, I bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness, which they have committed? What, when again to the Galatians, If a man be overtaken in a fault, (i. e. any whatever,) ye who are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Does then the master of the family in a large house guard only the silver and golden vessels? Does he not deign to guard both the earthen and the wooden, and some that are put together and repaired? Now I rejoice, saith the Apostle, that ye sorrowed to repentance; and again, for godly sorrow worketh repentance unto enduring salvation. But penitence, you say, was not allowed. No one enjoins a fruitless labour, For the labourer is worthy of his hire. Never would God threaten the impenitent, unless He would pardon the penitent. This, you will say, God alone can do. It is true. But that also which He does through His Priests, is His own authority. Else what is that which He saith to the Apostles, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven? Why said He this, if it was not lawful for men to bind and loose? Is this allowed to Apostles only? Then to them also only is it allowed to baptize, and to them only to give the Holy Spirit, and to them only to cleanse the sins of the nations; for all this was enjoined on none others but Apostles.
12. But if both the loosening of bonds and the power of the Sacrament are given in one place, either the whole has been derived to us from the Apostolic form and authority, or else not even this relaxation has been made from the decree. I, he saith, have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. This, therefore, we build up, which the doctrine of the Apostles laid as the foundation. And, lastly, Bishops also are named Apostles, as saith Paul of Epaphroditus, My brother and fellow-soldier; but your Apostle.
13. If, therefore, the power of the Laver, and of the Anointing, gifts far greater, descended thence to Bishops, then the right of binding and of loosing was with them. Which although for our sins it be presumptuous in us to claim, yet God, Who hath granted unto Bishops the name even of His only Beloved, will not deny it unto them, as if holy and sitting in the chair of the Apostles.
14. I would write more, brother, were I not pressed by the hasty return of the servant, and were I not reserving a fuller account for thee when either present, or making confession of thy whole purport. Let no one despise the Bishop on consideration of the man. Let us remember that the Apostle Peter hath named our Lord, Bishop. But are now, he saith, returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. What shall be denied to the Bishop, in whom operateth the Name of God? He shall indeed give an account, if he have done any thing wrong, or if he shall have judged corrupt and unrighteous judgment. Nor is God's Judgment forestalled, but that He may undo the work of a wicked builder. In the mean while, if that his ministration be holy, he abideth as an helper in the work of God. See the Apostle writeth to Laity: To whom, ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. But if what the Laity forgive, the Apostle saith that he hath forgiven, what a Bishop hath done, in what character can it be rejected? Therefore neither the Anointing, nor Baptism, nor remission of sins, nor the renewing of the Body, were granted to his sacred authority, because nothing was entrusted to him as assumed by himself, but the whole has descended in a stream from the Apostolic privilege.
15. Know, brother, that not indiscriminately to all is this very pardon through penance granted; nor until there shall have been either some indication of the Divine will, or perchance some visitation, may men be loosed; that with careful pondering and much balancing, after many groans and much shedding of tears, after the prayers of the whole Church, pardon is in such wise not refused to true penitence, as that no one thereby prejudgeth the future Judgment of Christ. If, brother, thou wouldest write thy sentiments more openly, thou shalt be more fully instructed.” (Epistle 1 To Sympronian, On The Catholic Name)*
“I next added, that we need not consider, whence Catholics, derived this name, because neither was it wont to be any imputation against the Valentinians, if they were called after Valentinus, nor the Phrygians, if from Phrygia, nor the Novatians, if after Novatian…When you first wrote, I thought you a Cataphrygian. Dost thou 15 acknowledge it in thy second letter? Dost thou grudge me my name, and yet shun thine own? Think what there is of shame in a cause which shrinks from its own name.” (Epistle 2:3, To Sympronian, Concerning Novatian’s Letter)*
“I answer, Novatian taught this doctrine. But, at least, when did he teach it, brother, or at what period? Immediately after the Passion of the Lord? After the reign of Decius, that is, nearly three hundred years after the Passion of the Lord. And what then did he? Did he follow Prophets, as the Cataphrygians? Some Philumene, as Apelles? Or received he himself so great authority? Spake he with tongues? Did he prophesy? Could he raise the dead? For some one of these powers he ought to have had who was to bring in a Gospel with new laws…"The Church is without spot or wrinkle," that is, without heresies, without Valentinus, without Cataphrygians, without Novatians. For in these are certain spotted and wrinkled folds, envious of the ornaments of the precious vesture. But the sinner and the penitent are not a spot on the Church, because, as long as he sinneth and repenteth not, he is put without the Church. When he ceases to sin, he is already whole. But the heretic rends, divides, spots, wrinkles, the garment of the Lord, the Church of Christ. “For whereas there are schisms and contentions among you,” saith the Apostle, “are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” and moreover, “Their word will eat as doth a canker.” This is the spot that defileth unity, this the wrinkle. Lastly, when the Apostle is speaking of these things, he is setting forth the love and affection of Christ. “As Christ,” he saith, “loved the Church, and gave Himself for it;” that He might remove, that is, the heretics, because they know not how to love. But why is this, you will say, for the wretched penitent? Because he wisheth both to love and be loved.” (Epistle 3:2, 11, To Sympronian, Against The Treatise Of The Novatians)*
* C. H. Collyns edition.
Didymus The Blind (c.311-c.397)
“During their passage to Orthodoxy [from heresy], had they been peradventure already baptized, we baptize—we do not say “we rebaptized” since they have not had any true baptism—on one hand the Eunomians [are rebaptized], because they are reported as baptizing with only one immersion and only in the name of the Lord’s death. On the other side, the Phrygians [are rebaptized], because they do not baptize in the name of the three holy hypostases and [do this because they] believe that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the same.” (On The Trinity, 2:15)
“If this is so, there is no doubt (the Lord) spoke these words "I am" and "He who sent me" as having taken "the appearance of a slave,” because the Jews did not believe the Economy [= the Incarnation] and because he came into this world by the concurrent will of God the Father: and not only for this, but also to shame the Montanists, who are uneducated, thick in mind, who believe that the Father, Son and the Paraclete is the same (person), and with them Manes, etc..” (On The Trinity, 3:18)
“Knowing in advance the future, as he was God, and that after his ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit, there would still be impostors like Simon, Montanus, Manes, Christ had forewarned us by these words: 'When the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, etc.’.” (On The Trinity, 3:19)
“Paul spoke in this way, first to prevent any confusion between the hypostases and to help distinguish one from another, then to exclude the polytheism of the Greeks, he said the words "God the Father is one,” and to refute the stubbornness of the Jews in relation to Christ, he used the words "the Lord Jesus Christ is one", and the folly of the Montanists who had honored as one person the three glorious hypostases with the words "one" and "one" and "one".” (On The Trinity, 3:23)
“By these words: "I will not leave you orphans: I come to you" (Christ) taught that just as the Spirit of God was in all even before the arrival where he became known, likewise the Son, even after the Ascension (is also in all) in the divinity and in the infinite will and single hypostasis. Not that he is Father, Son and Spirit of God, (as was believed by Montanus, who principally based his argument upon this Scripture without realizing that it is a person who speaks of another and still of another person: "I will ask my Father and he will send you another Paraclete"), but just as he is a distinct being present with this Spirit [whereve he is but yet] in his own substance, so is also the Father always and everywhere [just as the Spirit is always and everywhere].” (On The Trinity, 3:38)
“The error of the Montanists consists in this:
I. First they prophesy that there is only one person of the three divine hypostases. Montanus, in effect, said, He said: "I am the Father, the Son and the Paraclete.” They allege in support, (and it exceeds the bounds of stupidity to do this), the admirable words of the Son: "I am in my Father and my Father is in me" and these passages: "We will come, me and my Father and we will make him our home.” “I and my Father, we are one.” Whoever sees me sees my Father. "The Paraclete, that the Father will send in my name.” But all these expressions, as has been said above, reveal a person, then another person, then another again, each with its own consistency, in one divinity and a single harmony. For Christ did not say: "I and my Father, I am one", but "we are one." And this is sufficient to refute their folly and their detestable views.
II. Secondly, when the Apostle wrote in First Corinthians: “The prophecies vanish, the languages cease, knowledge will be abolished, because we know imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly, but when perfection comes, then what is imperfect will be abolished,” they claim that Montanus is come and that he was the perfection of the Paraclete, that is, that of the Holy Spirit. They say this because they do not pay attention to what follows. For it is written immediately after: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I reasoned as a small child; when I became a man, I put aside the ways of a child. For we now see as in a mirror, darkly, but then we shall see face to face. Now we know only in part, but then shall I know as I am known myself." That is to say, the things to which in our time we hear and believe based upon the authority of Scripture, after the resurrection we will see with our eyes, and know their reality, even in the time in which knowledge has ended. Knowledge that is acquired by hearing, is a part of what we acquire by sight and experience. So now it is because we believe that we believe in predictions about the second coming of the Lord, and his judgment tribunal and that three times blessed word: "Come, blessed of my Father, come and get your share of the kingdom prepared for you." But one day we will know these things by seeing and experiencing them [and not by faith]. Now we believe in the holy angels, based upon what we have heard. One day we will see them directly serve God. Now it is based on hearing that we believe "these things that the eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not entered into the Heart of man, God has prepared for those who love him." One day those who are worthy, not only will [see, hear and consider], but will also enjoy them. For the heavenly goods which are concealed in the eye of the soul in this world will be manifested to us in the future life.
"But,” they argue, “Christ said: "I have many things to tell you, but you can not bear them now. But when the Spirit of truth comes" and again: "It is not in his name that he speaks, but it is my will that he will announce," and "He will glorify me," and "I will not leave you as orphans: I will come to you." He apparently came when Montanus (himself came) - No, thank you God [that this was not the case]! This is not the case because, despite their absurd reasoning, people were found before Montanus who possessed the Christ, and also the Apostles, who received God's function, in which Christ himself spoke, in whom the Spirit of God dwelt; who, by the laying on of hands also communicated the Spirit to others according to his will; who taught in all honesty, were believed by all and were not disbelieved as Montanus is… What the phrase "I come to you," means I explained earlier. We have in our possession, (although only the righteous fully possess) Christ, who said: "I come to you", and the Holy Spirit of whom he said: “When he comes.” For it is not without purpose that the Master blew into the face of the apostles after the Resurrection, saying: "Receive the Holy Spirit.” And neither did Christ lie when he said: "Because he remains with you and is in you"; nor the Apostle when he wrote: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you"; nor Wisdom when she said: "The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole earth, and that which contains all things has knowledge of sound." Neither the apostles nor the saints who were before them, were less perfect than Montanus. But the Holy Spirit which contains all things appeared at the day of Pentecost; the book of Acts records how he was received…
III. Thirdly they are trying to show that Montanus has possessed the perfection of the Paraclete, and Priscilla and Maximilla… have written for Montanus. They tell us: ‘You, you do not believe there are prophets since the first epiphany. But the Savior said: "Behold, I send you prophets, wise men, scribes, and you will kill some of them, and crucify them and some of them you will flog in your synagogues.’” But he speaks, contrary to the belief of Montanus, of the Apostles, who predicted many things about the future, the last times, and the kingdom of heaven. Among them some have been killed, as Stephen and James, or crucified as Peter, or flogged as Paul. Perhaps also he uses the terms “martyrs” and “wise men” to refer to bishop-martyrs. Concerning prophetesses, the Scripture knows the four daughters of Philip, Deborah, Mariam, the sister of Aaron and Mary, the mother of God, who said, according to the Gospel: "From now on all women and all races will call me blessed." But (the Scriptures) do not know books written under the name of any women. The Apostle has forbidden this when he wrote in first Timothy: "I do not permit women to teach" and again in First Corinthians: "Any woman who prays and prophesies without having her head covered dishonors her head." In other words, it is not permissible for women to shamelessly write and compose books and… to teach, which in so doing, she dishonors her head, that is to say, man. For "the head of woman is man, and the head of man is Christ." The reason why Paul silenced women is obvious. It is because the original teaching of the [first] woman caused much harm to the whole human race: "For it is not the man who was seduced,” says the apostle, “it was the woman.”
The conclusion is this: Montanus has neither known or possessed the Holy Spirit because he has had these [contrary] thoughts [regarding the role of women]. And it has been over a hundred years since the ascension of the Savior and the coming of the Holy Spirit, that this man, formerly a priest for an idol, introduced this blind heresy. (On The Trinity, 3:41)
Epiphanius of Salamis (c.311-403)
“I am writing for you a preface to present the general idea of my work against heresies…the names of these heresies, and the circumstances that led to their creations, is as follows: 1. Barbarism. 2. Scythianism. 3. Hellenism…28. Phrygians, who are also referred to as Montanists and Tascodrugians. However, the Tascodrugians are distinguished as a group all to themselves. 29. Pepuzians, who are also referred to as Priscillianists and Quintillianists. The Artotyrites are associated with them…Volume Two contains two sections. There are eighteen heresies in the first section of Volume Two (which is the fourth in numerical order from the beginning of the work) and they are as follows: Encratites; Phrygians, also referred to as Montanists and Tascodrugians. However, the Tascodrugians are distinguished from the preceeding. Pepuzians, and Quintillianists, with which the Artotyrites are associated.” (Medicine Chest (Panarion), Proem 1:4, 5)
“1. Another heresy comes up in its turn after these. It is called the heresy of the Phrygians. It started at the same time as the Encratites, and is their successor. The Montanists began about the nineteenth year of Hadrian’s successor Antoninus Pius, while Marcion, Tatian, and the Encratites who succeeded him, started in Hadrian’s time and after him.
These Phrygians (as we refer to them), also accept every Scripture of the Old and New Testaments and assert the resurrection of the dead also. However, they brag about having Montanus as a prophet, and Priscilla and Maximilla as prophetesses, and have lost their common sense by paying attention to them. They are in agreement with the holy catholic church about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, but have separated themselves from it by “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” and by saying, “We have to receive the charismatic gifts* as well.”
The holy church of God also receives the charismatic gifts*--but only the real gifts, which have already been tested in God’s holy church through the Holy Spirit, and by prophets and apostles, and the Lord himself. For the apostle John says in his letter, “Test the spirits, whether they are of God;” and again he says, “You have heard that Antichrist is coming, and now many Antichrists have come. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but that it might be made known that they were not of us. For this cause I write unto you, little children,” and so on. The Phrygians are, in reality, not “of” the saints themselves. They “went out” by their controversial behavior, and “gave heed” to spirits of error and made up stories.
2. Behold, their religion itself is proof that they are unable to keep their controversially made promises. If we have to receive charismatic gifts*, and if there must be charismatic gifts* within the church, why do they not have any more prophets after Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla [have died]? Does this mean that grace has stopped working? Don’t be afraid, the grace in the holy church does not stop working! But if the prophets only prophesied up unto a certain point in time, and after that no more, then neither Priscilla nor Maximilla [really] prophesied; because they delivered their prophecies after the individuals who were tried by the holy apostles in the holy church.
The unintelligence of their position will be shown in two ways, then. They should either show that there are prophets after Maximilla, so that it can be shown that their so-called “grace” is not inoperative. Or it will be shown that Maximilla is a false prophet, since she was bold enough to receive inspiration after the prophetic gifts had ended—not from the Holy spirit but from the masquerade of the devil—and deceived her listeners.
And look at the way in which they can be proven false from the very words that they speak! Their so-called prophetess, Maximilla, says, “After me there will be no more prophecy, but the consummation.” Behold, the Holy Spirit and the spirits of error are easy to tell apart! Everything that the prophets have spoken, they said sensibly and with understanding; and the things that they spoke have come to pass and are still coming to pass. However, Maximilla said that the consummation would come after her, and nothing like that has happened yet—even after so many emperors have come and gone and so much time has passed by! About two hundred and six years have passed since the time of Maximilla until ours, the twelfth year of Valentinian and Valens and the eight year of Gratian’s and we have not seen the consummation proclaimed by the woman who boasted of being a prophet, but did not even know the day of her own death.
It is clear then, none of the people who have separated themselves from the truth have kept any soundness in their reason. Like babies who have been bitten by the persistent deceiver, the snake, they have given themselves up to being destroyed and being caught outside of the [protection of] the fold and have been taken off to become the food of the wolf and in doing so die. All this happened because they did not keep a hold on to the Head but left the truth and endangered themselves in shipwreck and in the waves of all kinds of error. If Maximilla tells people that there will never be another prophet, then she is denying that they have the gift of prophecy, and that it is still found among them. If their gift only endures until Maximilla, then, as I previously stated, she did not have any charismatic gifts* either.
3. She has gone astray. The Lord has set his seal upon the church, and he has perfected the charismatic gifts* in her. When there was a need for prophets the same saints, filled with the Holy Spirit, gave all of the prophecies for our upbuilding—they gave them in the true Spirit, with a sound mind and a coherent intellect. They did this in proportion to their faith in the charismatic gifts* that the Spirit was giving to each person, and “in proportion to the faith”. But what have the Montanists said that was beneficial? What have the Montanists said that was in proportion to the faith? Truly, how can they be anything else besides the people of whom the Lord was talking about when he said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves?”
Allow us to figure out which is real prophecy and which is false prophecy by comparing what they have said with the teachings of the Old and New Testaments (which are true, and which have been delivered and prophesied in truth). A prophet always spoke in a composed and intelligible manner and delivered his oracles by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. He spoke everything with a sound mind like “Moses, the servant of God and faithful in all his house, who saw the glory of God apparently, and not in dark speeches.” And, so, in the Old Testament the man who saw [God in a vision] was called a prophet. In the Scripture it says, “The vision which Isaiah the son of Amoz, the prophet, saw. I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up. And I saw Seraphim and Cherubim, and I heard the Lord saying unto me, Go and tell this people, Hear indeed and ye shall not understand; and see indeed, and ye shall not perceive.” And after hearing the Lord tell him this he went to the people and said, “Thus says the Lord.” Can you not discern that this is the speech of an intellectually sober person, and that the oracle was not presented as the speech of a distraught mind?
In a similar way, when Ezekiel the prophet heard the Lord say, “Bake yourself bread on human waste,” he said, “Not so, Lord; nothing common or unclean has at any time come into my mouth.” It was because he understood the threat that the Lord had addressed to him that he did not proceed to go ahead and do it as if he were out of his senses. Because his mind was rational and sound he prayed saying, “Not so, Lord.” These two things--both the teaching and the discussion--are marks of true prophets, whose minds are sound in the Holy Spirit.
And who can deny that Daniel was filled with all wisdom and that he was in possession of his senses? He discovered the answers to Nebuchadnezzar’s riddles, brought forth Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams when even Nebuchadnezzar could not remember them, and with the soundness of mind and the superiority of the gift, both which he possessed, he gave the explanation immediately. For he had greater wisdom than anyone else through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who truly gives wisdom—to the prophet and also to those who, through the prophet, are guaranteed the teaching of the truth.
However, when the Phrygians claim to prophesy, it is clear that they are not of a sound mind and intellect. Their words are unclear and strange, with nothing right about them. 4. Montanus, for example, says, “Behold, man is like a lyre, and I fly over him like a pick. The man sleeps, while I watch. Be aware, it is the Lord that distracts the hearts of men, and that gives the heart to man.”
Now what coherent thinking person who accepts the “profitable” message with understanding and cares about his salvation, can not despise a false religion like this, and the words of someone who boasts of being a prophet but cannot speak like one? The truth is, that Holy Spirit never spoke in him. Expressions like “I fly”, and “strike” and “watch” and “The Lord distracts men’s hearts” are the expressions of an ecstatic. They are not the words of a rationally thinking man, but of a person who is a different kind from the Holy Spirit who spoke in the prophets.
When the Phrygians decide to put together deception with truth and steal those who care for the correctness of their intelligence, they put together large piles of texts to make a false case for their fraud, and to prove their claims from it say that certain scriptures bear a resemblance to it. For example, the holy Scripture has said, “God sent an ‘ecstasy’ upon Adam, and he slept.”
However, Adam’s circumstance was nothing like theirs. In their situation, God did not want to create a body--which was his reason for putting Adam into a trance—and out of his extreme love and kindness, give them a similar experience. God brought the unconscious state of sleep upon Adam, not distraction of mind.
There are many different types of ecstasy. We call the state of being stupefied from an overabundance of wonder an ecstasty; and insanity is called ecstasy because it has lost touch with reality. However, Adam’s “ecstasy” of sleep was referred to by this term in a different sense, that is, it was an ecstasy related to the activity of his body. This is especially true because the holy Adam whom God’s hand had formed was cast into a very deep trance.
5. It truly is clear that the sacred scripture was correct to call this ecstasy. For, when someone is sleeping, all of his senses leave him and have a rest. As an example consider this: Even though the sense of sight is there but does not see; the eye is closed, and the thing in the man that moves him (the spirit or soul) is at rest. If there is a bad smell in the house or even a good one, the sense of smell is there but it does not perceive the bad smell—this sense has departed to take a rest.
If there are bitter, salty, or sweet fluids in the mouth, the sense of taste does not observe it--The sense of taste lies in the ecstasy of rest without doing what it did before in the man when he was awake.
The ear is there [while the man is asleep], but the sense of hearing is not working as a sense [at that time]. If persons are talking in the house it often does not hear what anyone says unless the man wakes up. For the present time, its function stops. Animals can be crawling on our bodies but we don’t feel it, unless they bite or something like that. This is because the whole body has given up its activity for the rest of sleep.
The body is made from the earth and covers the soul and because God made it to serve us in this way, it is allowed a period to pull back from experiencing full awareness and into a state of rest. The soul itself does not give up its role or governing the man or producing thought. It often imagines and sees itself just as if it was awake—even walking around, doing work, crossing the sea, addressing an audience (it even sees itself in more striking situations than these)—in its dreams. But the experience is not like that of an insane person or an ecstatic who has been mentally transported to another place. This kind of person takes frightful things into their hands while awake in body and soul and often does terrible harm to themselves and their neighbors. They do not know what they are saying and doing because they have fallen into the ecstasy of foolishness.
6. My dearly loved ones, it has been necessary for me to put together all of this material about the different kinds of ecstasy because of the passage which says, “The Lord sent an ecstasy upon Adam, and he slept.” And in what I have written I have explained why falling asleep is called an “ecstasy fro the Lord” in that passage. It happens because God has shown to all of us compassion and lovingkindness so that a person can be removed from care and the business of living and taken into the rest of sleep. In the case of Adam, however, God additionally called it ecstasy because it made him unable to feel pain for a while. This was because God was going to take the side from him and make it into his wife.
However, Adam’s senses and intelligence were not temporarily inactive. As soon as he woke up, he recognized Eve and said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘wife,’ for she was taken out of her husband.” And as is very clear, he had an awareness of the past and the present, and also made a prophecy about the future. Take notice of this, by saying “bone of my bone” he purposefully noticed what had happened while he was asleep. He also was aware of what was going on in the present—after his wife had been created he was aware that she had been taken from his own body. And regarding the future he prophesied, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” These are not the kind of things that a man would say if he was in an ecstasy or lacked understanding. They are the words of a person with a sound mind.
7. But I also have to speak about the text “I said in my ecstasy, all men are liars,” the meaning of this, as in the other passage, is different [than the Montanists claim]. This is not the expression of an insane person or an ecstatic. The truth is that they are actually far from being that. They are the words of someone who experienced a shock and is taking a more than normal assessment of things not fit to be said and done. You see, because the prophets were astonished, he also speaks with astonishment here.
The prophets did fall into trances but they did not fall into distraction. Peter also was in an “ecstasy” because he saw things other than what men usually see in the normal, day to day world. His was not in an “ecstasy” because he was irrational. “For he saw a sheet let down, bound at the four corners, and in it all manner of four-footed beasts and creeping things and birds of the air.” Take notice that Saint Peter was coherent, not out of his mind, as this was happening. For when he heard, “Arise, kill and eat,” he did not obey like a person with an unstable mind, but told the Lord, “Not so, Lord; nothing common or unclean has at any time come into my mouth.”
And the holy David said, “I said, all men are liars.” In using the expression, “I said,” he was speaking for himself and stating that people lie. Consequently, he was not lying—but expressed great shock because he was astonished and thunderstruck at God’s lovingkindness and at the things the Lord had told him. And, realizing that everyone is in need of God’s mercy, he attributed truth-telling to the Lord alone. As he did this he was realizing that every person deserves punishment—thus he was evidencing the true Spirit, who spoke in the prophets and showed to them the depths of the exact knowledge of God.
Abraham also fell into ecstasy. This ecstasy was not a lapse of his intellect but the distraction that results from being overcome by fear. He witnessed the furnace and the torches around sunset and became afraid like other prophets said happened to them when they saw visions in their right minds. For an example of this, consider how Moses said, “I fear exceedingly and am trembling.” But Abraham knew what the Lord was saying, for he was told “You shall know of a surety that your descendants shall be a stranger four hundred years in a land that is not theirs.” And so you see how clear that it is that everything was said in truth by the prophets with a sound mind and clear-headed reason, and not in an insane way.
8. Despite the fact that they have decided to reply, “The first gifts are not like the last ones,” how can they prove this? The holy prophets and the holy apostles both prophesied in the same way. First of all, the people who saw the two men in white when the Savior ascended into heaven did not see them in a mentally unbalanced way but with stable minds heard, “You men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall come in the same manner,” and so forth. And then, as I previously mentioned, Peter was thinking clearly and rationally when he saw, heard and answered, saying, “Not so, Lord.”
Agabus spoke prophetically and gave a clue to his meaning with a strange gesture, when he took Paul’s girdle, tied it around his own feet, and said, “He whose girdle this is, him they will bind and carry to Jerusalem.” And, likewise, prophets came down to Antioch and proclaimed there that there would be a world-wide famine, and their prediction came true. To prove that they were real and true prophets, the scripture adds immediately, “Which thing happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.”
And the most holy apostle Paul prophesied, “Now the Spirit speaks expressly that in the last days harsh times will come,” and so forth. And also, in another place, “Some shall fall away from sound doctrine, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be partaken of by us who receive them with thanksgiving.” The information given before this will make it very clear that this has truly happened, in you and others like you. Most of these heresies forbid marriage and prescribe abstinence from foods, although they do not command these things for the sake of discipline or to increase one’s virtue, which would come with rewards and crowns. No, they do so because the regard these creatures of the Lord as abominations.
9. The holy catholic church has a special reverence for virginity, living a life of celibacy and morally pure living, it praises widowhood, and both honors and accepts lawful marriage. However, it prohibits fornication, adultery and unchastity. Presenting this will demonstrate the character of the holy catholic church as well as show the false customs of the others. It will show also [that the holy catholic church] has seen fit to avoid every masquerade, crooked path and uphill trail. I have previously said—as the most holy apostles just said [in my above quotations] and which I shall now repeat—that it was to ensure our security and to make clear the character of the holy catholic church from the masquerade of the heresies, that Paul talked about how arrogantly the heresies prohibit matrimony and prescribe holding back from foods are actually prohibiting God’s good regulations by law.
For it was with a certain robustness that the heavenly Word said, “Will you be perfect?” in the Gospel. Even though he makes concessions for human clay and weakness, he rejoices over those who can exhibit the marks of being pious and choose to practice virginity, purity and self control. Still, he does honor marriage to one spouse, even though he foreshadows the gifts of the priesthood mainly by means of persons who stayed continent after one marriage, and persons who have remained virgins, and his holy apostles created the canonical rule of the priesthood in this way, with decent and holy living. However, if someone, due to his human weakness, needs to enter into a second marriage after the death of his wife, the rule of the truth does not stop this from happening—that is, if he is not a priest.
However, these persons do forbid it—“forbidding to marry,” as scripture says. They kick out anyone who has entered into a second marriage, and make their rule against second marriage a compulsory rule.
As for us, we do not lay this rule as a necessity on anyone. In the form of good advice we encourage those who can [to refrain from remarrying after being widowed], but we do not insist that this is a necessary rule for anyone who cannot [refrain from remarrying after being widowed] and we surely do not kick him out of the church, wherein is eternal life. The holy word everywhere talks about how that we have to bear with the human weakness of the frail. It will immediately become clear that, to shame people like these persons do just because they do not have the same gift [to remain celibate after being widowed] that they have, the holy apostle says, “Younger widows refuse; for after they grow wanton against Christ they will marry, having condemnation because they have left their first faith.” For widows who have made a promise [to remain celibate] and then break their promise are condemned, while those who did not promise to do so, and got married again because of their human weakness, will not be condemned. If remarrying after widowhood would have automatically resulted in condemnation for persons who did not promise to remain celibate why did Paul say, “Let them marry, direct the house.”
10. We discover then that every person who is a prophet (whether they are prophesying in the Old Testament or in the New) prophesies with understanding, as St. John said in Revelation: “The Lord revealed these things to his servants through his servant John,” and, “Thus says the Lord.” The person who spoke this had a sound mind and understanding. Notice how he says, “Thus says the Lord,” and “the vision which he saw”, phrases which were spoken by the Old Testament prophets.
However, this Montanus, who has tricked his victims with his bragging about being a prophet, describes things which are not in line with sacred scripture. For he says in his so-called prophesy, “Why do you say, ‘Only he that is more than a man can be saved?’ For the righteous will shine a hundred times brighter than the sun; and the least of you that are saved, a hundred times brighter than the moon.”
However the Lord leaves him speechless and bewildered. It is the Lord who has the power to grant radiance to the countenances of the saints, who caused Moses’ face to shine, and who will transform his holy ones, who are sown in dishonor and raised in glory, at the future coming resurrection of bodies. He will not transform other bodies [for the saints in the resurrection] but change their own bodies, raised complete, and receiving glory. All of this will come from him who gives glory to his saints without holding back. It is because he is Lord and God that he has the power to endow and impart glory.
However, even though he has the ability to grant this, he did not make promises like Montanus’ promises. For, the Lord said, “Your faces will shine as the sun.” Now, if Jesus Christ, who possesses the power and is our true Master and Lord, says that the faces of the just will shine as the sun, how can Montanus promise that it will shine a hundred times more? He could only do this if he is like the one who promised Adam, “You will be as gods,” and made sure of his being evicted from the glory he had and the enjoyment of Paradise, and his being lowered to the corruption of death.
11. This Montanus proceeds to add that, “I am the Lord God, the Almighty, who dwells in a man.” It is a blessing for us that the sacred scriptures, and curriculum of the Holy Spirit’s teaching, protects us from danger by giving us warnings so that we will be able to discern which [manifestations] are the counterfeits of the strange spirit and the contraries to the truth. Just by saying this, Montanus has given us the idea that we remember the words of the Lord. For, in the Gospel, the Lord says, “I came in my Father’s name and you did not receive me.” Therefore, Montanus is in complete disagreement with the sacred scriptures. Any reader who is carefully paying attention can see this. And, since he is in disagreement, both he and the heresy which (in the same way he does) brags about having prophets and gifts, they are foreigners to the holy catholic church. He did not accept and receive these gifts [which the holy catholic church has been endowed by God with]. Instead he left them [and embraced foreign and counterfeit ones].
What coherent thinking person would presume to refer to these people as prophets instead of pronouncing that people who prophesy in such a manner are deceivers? Christ instructed us that, “I send unto you the Spirit, the Paraclete,” and to present the signs of the Paraclete, he said, “He shall glorify me.” And truthfully, it is clear that the holy apostles brought glory to the Lord after they received the Paraclete Spirit, but Montanus glorifies himself. The Lord brought glory to his Father; likewise, the Lord Christ brought glory to the Spirit by referring to him as the Spirit of truth. However, Montanus brings glory to himself, and exclaims that he is the Father almighty, and that the spirit which lives in him is the Paraclete—this is proof that he not the Father, was not sent by the Father and has not received anything from the Father. “In the Lord was all the fullness of the Godhead pleased to dwell bodily,” and “Of his fullness have all the prophets received,” as Saint John has told us. And take a look at how all the ancient ones announced Christ, and how that those who appeared on the scene after them brought glory to Christ and confessed him. But Montanus encroached himself by asserting that he was somebody important—this is proof that he is not Christ, was not sent by Christ, and has not received anything from Christ.
This weak little man, Montanus, replies, “Neither angel nor messenger, but I the Lord, God the Father, have come.” He is exposed as a heretic by saying this—for he does not bring glory to Christ [when he says this] and every ordinary gift which has been given in the holy Church truly brought glory to Christ. As we look at this we will discover that Montanus is on the outside of the body of the church and is outside from the Head of all, and he “does not hold the Head, from whom the whole body, knit together, increaseth,” as scripture says. For the real and legitimate Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, demonstrated that he was a Son; however, Montanus even goes so far as to state that he is the Father.
12. When you Phrygians exclaim that you departed from the church over the charismatic gifts*, how are we supposed to believe you? Even though you are camouflaged with the label of “Christian,” you have started another enemy assault upon us. You have embraced the cause of the barbarian’s quarrel and acted with the hostility of the Trojans, who just also happened to be Phrygians! Things that are of a different nature from the gifts [as experienced in the holy catholic church] and, as your own prophets say, are not the same kind that the Lord promises to give, cannot be [real and legitimate] gifts.
And as a response, you introduce us to Maximilla! Even the names that you guys have are different and scary—there is nothing pleasant and melodious about them—and they have an air of wildness and savagery to them. Immediately this Maximilla, who is one of these supposed Phrygians, listen to what she says children of Christ: “Do not listen to me, but listen to Christ!”
Even when it appeared that she was bringing glory to Christ, she was in error. If she belonged to Christ she would speak like the holy apostles, as each one of them says. Peter is first, who says, “We had heard of him.” And the Lord himself says, “He that hears you, hears me.” And Paul says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
But as she lies she really tells the truth, even though she doesn’t want to. She is correct to tell people not to listen to her but to Christ. Unclean spirits are often forced to censure themselves as being not of the truth and to demonstrate by compulsion and under pressure, who their Lord is. Just like the young woman with the spirit of divination exclaimed, “These men are servants of the most high God;” and [like the spirit in the Gospel account said], “Why have you come before the time to torment us? I know you, who you are—the holy one of God.” So Maximilla, under [supernatural] coercion, told people not to listen to her, but to Christ. Now I would like to ask, how can the people who have heard her say this and believed in her desire to listen to her [anymore]—when they have been taught by her not to listen to her, but to listen to the Lord! Truthfully, if they possessed any sense they should not listen to her, since her prophetic utterances are from the earth [and not Heaven].
And do not say to me that she was in a coherent state [when she made this prophetical utterance]. A coherent person does not censure themselves in their own teaching. If she spoke anything to the extent of, “Don’t listen to me,” what kind of spirit was speaking in her? Now, if she spoke as a human, then she was not influenced by the Spirit. This is because it is clear that in saying, “Do not listen to me,” she was speaking as a human, and was not influenced by the Holy Spirit. And if she was not influenced by the Holy Spirit from on high but was instead thinking as and under the influence of her human nature, she did not know anything [special] and was not a prophetess. She did not have the Holy Spirit, instead she was speaking and delivering her prophetic utterances with human intelligence.
But, say for example, what if she did speak and prophesy under the influence of the Holy Spirit—what kind of Holy Spirit would say, “Don’t listen to me?” This deceit is so blinding that it has completely blinded people. However, the word of God is great, which imparts to us understanding in every way, so that we can know what has been spoken under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, here in the person of the Father, there in the person of the Son, there in the person of the Holy Spirit.
Now if the spirit that is in Maximilla was a holy one it would not command people not to listen to its own utterances. “One is the Holy Spirit, that divides to each as he wants.” And if he has the ability to divide as he wants, and is referred to as the Spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of piousness, and is referred to as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, coming from the Father and receiving from the Son and one who is not a stranger to the Father and the Son—then he did not say, “Do not listen to me!” For the Spirit imparted the message of Christ and Christ sends the Spirit, and drives out demons by the Holy Spirit. And the Son imparts the message of the Father and the Father set apart the Son and sent him into the world, so that the world might know him and might give glory to him as they give glory to the Father. And the idea of the people who separate themselves from the following of Christ is totally wrong.
13. Next Maximilla, if I may sarcastically say that her “coherent knowledge and education”, says, “The Lord sent me as a supporter of this task, forced to do it, whether I want to or not, to be a revealer of this covenant, an interpreter of this promise, and to impart the knowledge of God.” Let us fix our eyes upon the strong foundation of our life, my dearly beloved, and the path that is lit, and not stumble on words from the enemy and the foreign spirit’s prey. Examine the prophet here, who spoke like this and censured herself, not of voluntarily but by being forced to do so. Our Lord did not enter the world against his will, and he was not forced to come by the Father. He has the will in unison with the Father, and it performs in unison with the Holy Spirit. And just as he himself has the will in unison with the Father, even so, the ones whom he has called, he has called of their own choice, never making it necessary that they come to him nor fastening collars upon them. (Aside from this he gives grace to everyone, not by forcing it upon people, but out of and by his superabundant lovingkindness). It needs to be noted that he says, “You that thirst, come to me,’ and another time he says, “If any man will come after me let him follow me.” He also said the same thing through Isaiah which states, “If you are willing and hearken.” And after this, to show who was the one who said this, the prophet said, “For the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things.”
On top of all of this, are you completely aware of their disagreement with the holy text, and the difference between their ideas and opinions, and the faith and following of God? Because Maximilla said that she forced both the willing and the unwilling [to embrace faith]. This means that her words show her to be guilty of lying. She did not teach the knowledge of God (which she herself did not even know) to the willing, nor forced the unwilling [to embrace the faith]. I don’t even have to tell you that the whole world has no idea who Maximilla is, or her wrong teachings. Their mistaken idea is completely in error and it forms no part of God’s [revealed] truth [as it is found in Christianity].
14. The Phrygians also revere an isolated location in Phrygia, a town that used to be called Pepuza though it has since been leveled. They say that the heavenly Jerusalem will come down at that location. It is because of this belief that they go there and celebrate certain rites there. They seem to think that this sanctifies them. This group can also be found in Cappadocia and Galatia, and also in Phrygia as I mentioned, which is why the heresy is referred to as the Phrygian heresy. However, they are also in Cilicia, and, for the most part, in Constantinople.
So that I won’t leave anything out that has a bearing on the name of every heresy that I have discussed I will also talk about, in its place the Tascodrugians. I am doing this because this name is used either in the heretical group itself or the one after it, which is called the heresy of the Quintillianists. This name also originates from the people in the group themselves.
This is why they are referred to as Tascodrugians: The word that they use for “peg” is “tascus” and “drungus” is their word for “nostril” or “snout”. And because they put their licking finger (at least this is the term we use for this finger) onto their nostril when they pray (they do this to project a dejected appearance and a supposed would-be righteousness) some people have taken to calling them Tascodrugians, or “nose-peggers”.
It is reported that a shocking and wicked act is committed in this heresy—or in its sister heresy (the one referred to as the heresy of the Quintillianists or Priscillianists, and Pepuzians). At a certain celebration they pierce a child who is just a little baby all over its body using needles that are made of bronze and procure its blood to use for a sacrifice (if you can honestly even call such a thing a “sacrifice”).
15. I am happy with what I have related about this heresy in its place dearly loved children. I gave you my word that I would not hold anything back about any heresy that I know of, but would give you out what I have found out based upon what people have said, from written works related to the subject, documents and people who validated my impressions on the groups. With this in mind, by my writing only what I know (and no more) I will not come across as being guilty of making up my own phony charges against persons, and of finding myself in the same place that they are by not telling the truth, but sharing things that they have not seen, heard or learned from the true instruction of the Holy Spirit.
I present all of the facts, as I said, with exactness, about each heresy, and make these shocking revelations for the correction of the readers. I have put together a kind of medicine made out of refutation from the words of hallowed scripture and correct reasonings, and mix it together in the Lord for two reasons. I make it to be the means of recuperation and recovery of those suffering from their sicknesses and intense pain, and I also make it to be a preventative measure, as it were, for those who have never gotten sick, in order to keep them from developing the sickness. Because I did this, may I also be referred to as a disciple of the disciples of the Lord because I imparted the medicine of the truth to those who are already wise, and may I be referred to as a disciple of the Savior himself, who is the assistance-giver of [our] bodies and souls.
At this time, with the power of Christ, allow me to put myself in the position to continue on to the rest [of the heresies], since I am confident that what I have given here will be enough for this heresy. I have trodden down its venom, and the poison on its curved fangs, with the club of the truth of the cross. This heresy is similar to the viper of hemorrhage, whose foulness is to take the blood out of its victims’ whole bodies and cause them to die in this way. For this heresy and the heresy of the Quintillianists operate the same way. They wound an innocent child and gets its blood so that they can drink it and they deceive their victims by stating, as they say, that this is how one is initiated in the name of Christ.
But as we continue on to the rest [of the heresies] by the power of Christ, we should call upon his truth so that we can discover the meaning of each fraud, and after discovering and answering it, give our usual thanks in everything to God.” (Medicine Chest (Panarion), Heresy 48)
* The phrase "charismatic gifts" could also be translated as "gifts of grace".
“1. The Quintillianists come up next (these are the ones who are also referred to as Pepuzians as well as being known as Artotyrites and Priscillianists). They are the same as the Phrygians and actually come from them, but in a specific way they are different. The reason for them being different is that the Quintillianists or Priscillianists say that either Quintilla or Priscilla (I am not sure which one, but one of them), as I mentioned before, slept in Pepuza and Christ came to her and he slept next to her and it happened this way according to the misled woman: “Christ came to me dressed in a white robe,” she said, “in the shape of a woman, instilled into me wisdom, and shared with me how that this place is holy, and that Jerusalem will come down from heaven here.”
And, because of this, even down to this day, they say, that certain women and men also are initiated there on the site, so that those people can wait for Christ and see him [themselves]. They are women in this group whom they refer to as prophetesses. I don’t know, however, whether they were the ones to create this custom or if it originated with the Phrygians first. They are associated and have the same ideas.
2. They use both the Old and New Testaments, and similarly say that they believe in the resurrection of the dead. Their founder is Quintilla, along with Priscilla who was also a prophetess of the Phrygians.
The give many scriptural references which have no relevance [to support their claims], and they give thanks to Eve because she was the first one to consume food from the tree of wisdom. They offer as scriptural support of their ordination of women as clergy the case of Moses’ sister being a prophetess. Beyond this, they also say Philip had four daughters who prophesied.
In their church seven virgins with lamps are often seen coming in, if you will allow, wearing white to prophesy to those in attendance. They mislead the assembly with an act of some kind of inspiration and make them all cry by shedding tears and putting on a show as if they were mourning for humanity, as though to encourage them to the mourning of penitence. They have woman bishops, presbyters and the rest claiming that none of this makes any difference because “In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female.” This is what I have discovered. The reason that they call them Artotyrites is because they put cheese and bread on the altar during their rituals and celebrate their mysteries using them.
3. However, every human mirage is the result of leaving the correct faith and choosing something that is just not possible [because God has not dictated it to be that way], and for choosing sundry frenzied experiences and secret rites. Now, if these people do not hold on tight to the anchor of the truth, but instead place their trust and hope in themselves, their minds will be in a continual state of madness and bring them into a frenzied state for any reason at all. Even though they ordain women as bishops and presbyters because of the example of Eve, they should listen to the Lord when he says, “Your resort shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over thee.” And they have missed (perhaps on purpose) the command of the apostle which says, “I do not allow a woman to speak, or to have authority over a man,” and again, “the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man,” and, “Adam was not deceived, but Eve, deceived first, fell into condemnation.”
There is definitely abundant error in this world.
Well, now that I have killed a toothless, unwitting, snake like a gecko, I will leave this heresy behind, my dearly beloved, and continue to the rest of them, calling upon God as the provider of help for my lowliness, and to keep my promise.” (Medicine Chest (Panarion), Heresy 49)
“Following these two related heresies of Phrygians and Quintillianists or Priscillianists, another one called the heresy of the Quartodecimans comes up in their turn.” (Medicine Chest (Panarion), Heresy 50:1)
“After these heresies (the Phrygians and Quintillianists and the group called Quartodecimans) another heresy sprang up [which rejected the Gospel according to John and the book of Revelation]…some of them grab a hold of the proceeding passage in [the book of] Revelation and contradict it by saying [to prove that it is false], “He said, in turn, ‘Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira,” and there is no church composed of Christians in Thyatira. How could he write to a church that doesn’t exist?” Truly, these people tear themselves down since their own statements force them to confess the truth. Now if they say, “There is no church in Thyatira at this time,” they are demonstrating that John prophesied this.
For ever since the group called Phrygians settled there, grabbed the simple believers’ minds as a wolf grabs its prey, and won the whole town over to their heresy, those people who reject [the book of] Revelation fought against this text at that time in order to bring disrepute upon it. However, not, in our own time, the church exists there thanks to Christ and it is gaining new members, 112 years after. But there are some other heretical groups there. At that time, however, the whole church had went over to the Phrygians. And, therefore, the Holy Spirit went through great effort to give unto us the revelation of how the church would descend into inaccuracy ninety-three years after the time in which the apostles lived, John and his successors. In other words, for a time [of 138 years] from the Savior’s ascension until the church’s restoration [in Thyatira], since the church in that place would go off course and be inundated by the Phrygian heresy.
For the Lord shows their true side at the beginning in [the book of] Revelation when he says, “Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira, ‘Thus says he whose eyes are as a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass. I know your works, and your faith and your love and your ministry, that your latter works are more than the first. But I have against you that you allow the woman Jezebel to deceive my servants, calling herself a prophetess, teaching to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit fornication. And I gave her space for repentance, and she will not repent of her fornication.’”
Do you not see that he is referring to the women who are tricked by a false understanding of prophecy and will deceive many people? What I mean is that he is referring to Priscilla, Maximillia and Quintilla, whose fraud the Holy Spirit took notice of. He told it in advance, prophetically through St. John’s mouth, who prophesied before he fell asleep [in death], during the time of Claudius Caesar and before that time, when he was on the island of Patmos. Even the people who live in Thyatira confess that this has happened. John, then, wrote prophetically to those who were living in Christ there at the time, that a woman would refer to herself as a prophetess. And the untrue argument which is brought up in opposition to the truth has completely failed, because it can be demonstrated that the prophetic oracle in Revelation is truly of the Holy Spirit [because it came to pass].” (Medicine Chest (Panarion), Heresy 51:1, 33)
“Women just happen to be unstable, likely to make mistakes, and mean-spirited. As in our earlier chapter on Quintilla, Maximilla and Priscilla, so in this instance the devil has seen it fit to spew out ridiculous teachings from the mouths of women.” (Medicine Chest (Panarion), Heresy 79:1)
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.315-386)
“Let the Cataphrygians also be thy abhorrence, and Montanus, their ringleader in evil, and his two so-called prophetesses, Maximilla and Priscilla. For this Montanus, who was out of his mind and really mad (for he would not have said such things, had he not been mad), dared to say that he was himself the Holy Ghost, — he, miserable man, and filled with all uncleanness and lasciviousness; for it suffices but to hint at this, out of respect for the women who are present. And having taken possession of Pepuza, a very small hamlet of Phrygia, he falsely named it Jerusalem; and cutting the throats of wretched little children, and chopping them up into unholy food, for the purpose of their so-called mysteries, — (wherefore till but lately in the time of persecution we were suspected of doing this, because these Montanists were called, falsely indeed, by the common name of Christians;) — yet he dared to call himself the Holy Ghost, filled as he was with all impiety and inhuman cruelty, and condemned by an irrevocable sentence.” (Catechetical Lecture, 16:8)
Gregory Nazianzen (c.325-389)
“These I call by name (for they are not nameless like the stars which are numbered and have names), and they follow me, for I rear them up beside the waters of rest; and they follow every such shepherd, whose voice they love to hear, as you see; but a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him, because they have a habit of distinguishing the voice of their own from that of strangers. They will flee from Valentinus with his division of one into two, refusing to believe that the Creator is other than the Good. They will flee from Depth and Silence, and the mythical Æons, that are verily worthy of Depth and Silence. They will flee from Marcion's god, compounded of elements and numbers; from Montanus' evil and feminine spirit; from the matter and darkness of Manes; from Novatus' boasting and wordy assumption of purity; from the analysis and confusion of Sabellius, and if I may use the expression, his absorption, contracting the Three into One, instead of defining the One in Three Personalities; from the difference of natures taught by Arius and his followers, and their new Judaism, confining the Godhead to the Unbegotten; from Photinus earthly Christ, who took his beginning from Mary. But they worship the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, One Godhead; God the Father, God the Son and (do not be angry) God the Holy Ghost, One Nature in Three Personalities, intellectual, perfect, Self-existent, numerically separate, but not separate in Godhead.” (Oration 33:16)
Basil The Great (c.329-379)
“As to your enquiry about the Cathari, a statement has already been made, and you have properly reminded me that it is right to follow the custom obtaining in each region, because those, who at the time gave decision on these points, held different opinions concerning their baptism. But the baptism of the Pepuzeni seems to me to have no authority; and I am astonished how this can have escaped Dionysius, acquainted as he was with the canons. The old authorities decided to accept that baptism which in nowise errs from the faith. Thus they used the names of heresies, of schisms, and of unlawful congregations. By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by uninstructed laymen. As, for instance, if a man be convicted of crime, and prohibited from discharging ministerial functions, and then refuses to submit to the canons, but arrogates to himself episcopal and ministerial rights, and persons leave the Catholic Church and join him, this is unlawful assembly.
To disagree with members of the Church about repentance, is schism. Instances of heresy are those of the Manichaeans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and of these Pepuzenes; for with them there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God. So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, on the ground that they still belonged to the Church.
As to those who assembled in unlawful congregations, their decision was to join them again to the Church, after they had been brought to a better state by proper repentance and rebuke, and so, in many cases, when men in orders had rebelled with the disorderly, to receive them on their repentance, into the same rank. Now the Pepuzeni are plainly heretical, for, by unlawfully and shamefully applying to Montanus and Priscilla the title of the Paraclete, they have blasphemed against the Holy Ghost. They are, therefore, to be condemned for ascribing divinity to men; and for outraging the Holy Ghost by comparing Him to men. They are thus also liable to eternal damnation, inasmuch as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost admits of no forgiveness. What ground is there, then, for the acceptance of the baptism of men who baptize into the Father and the Son and Montanus or Priscilla? For those who have not been baptized into the names delivered to us have not been baptized at all. So that, although this escaped the vigilance of the great Dionysius, we must by no means imitate his error. The absurdity of the position is obvious in a moment, and evident to all who are gifted with even a small share of reasoning capacity. (Letter 188:1, To Amphilochius)
Optatus Of Milevis (4th Century)
“Moreover, I cannot pass over a matter in which I think you have acted craftily. In order that you might lead the minds of your readers off the point, or deceive them, after you had described Circumcision and the Flood, and after you had praised Baptism, you thought fit to raise, as it were from the dead, heretics who were already dead and, together with their heresies, buried in oblivion----and this although not only their errors, but even their names, were unknown throughout Africa----Marcion, Praxeas, Sabellius, Valentinus, and the rest up to the Cataphrygae, all of whom were confuted in their time by Victorinus of Pettau, by Zephyrinus of Rome, by Tertullian of Carthage, and by other champions of the Catholic Church. Why, then, do you wage a war with the dead, who have nothing to do with the affairs of our time? For no reason, excepting that you, who are a schismatic of to-day, having nothing that you can prove against Catholics, have been pleased to enumerate so many heretics and their heresies, to spin out your somewhat wordy treatise.” (Against The Donatists, 1:9)
Gregory of Nyssa (d. c.387)
“But that the charge of Sabellianism and Montanism should be repeatedly urged against our doctrines, is much the same as if one should lay to our charge the blasphemy of the Anomoeans. For if one were carefully to investigate the falsehood of these heresies, he would find that they have great similarity to the error of Eunomius. For each of them affects the Jew in his doctrine, admitting neither the Only-begotten God nor the Holy Spirit to share the Deity of the God Whom they call “Great,” and “First.” For Whom Sabellius calls God of the three names, Him does Eunomius term unbegotten: but neither contemplates the Godhead in the Trinity of Persons. Who then is really akin to Sabellius let the judgment of those who read our argument decide.” (Against Eunomius, 10:2)
“But it seems to me best to pass over the intermediate passages in which he seeks to maintain his profanity, and to hasten to the head and front of the accusation which we have to bring against his doctrines. For he will be found to exhibit the sacrament of regeneration as an idle thing, the mystic oblation as profitless, and the participation in them as of no advantage to those who are partakers therein. For after those high-wrought aeons in which, by way of disparagement of our doctrine, he names as its supporters a Valentinus, a Cerinthus, a Basilides, a Montanus, and a Marcion, and after laying it down that those who affirm that the Divine nature is unknowable, and the mode of His generation unknowable, have no right or title whatever to the name of Christians, and after reckoning us among those whom he thus disparages, he proceeds to develop his own view in these terms:—"But we, in agreement with holy and blessed men; affirm that the mystery of godliness does not consist in venerable names, nor in the distinctive character of customs and sacramental tokens, but in exactness of doctrine." That when he wrote this, he did so not under the guidance of evangelists, apostles, or any of the authors of the Old Testament, is plain to every one who has any acquaintance with the sacred and Divine Scripture. We should naturally be led to suppose that by "holy and blessed men" he meant Manichaeus, Nicolaus, Colluthus, Aetius, Arius, and the rest of the same band, with whom he is in strict accord in laying down this principle, that neither the confession of sacred names, nor the customs of the Church, nor her sacramental tokens, are a ratification of godliness.” (Against Eunomius, 11:5)
Niceta of Remesiana (c.335-c.414)
“You must know that this is the one Catholic Church established throughout the world, and with it you must remain in unshaken communion. There are, indeed, other so-called ‘churches’ with which you can have no communion: for example, those of the Manichaeans, the Cataphrygians, the Marcionites and other heretics and schismatics. These ‘churches’ ceased to be holy, because they were deceived by the doctrines of the Devil to believe and behave differently from what Christ commanded and from the tradition of the Apostles.” (An Explanation Of The Creed, 11)
“As regards the passages brought together from the gospel of John with which a certain votary of Montanus has assailed you, passages in which our Savior promises that He will go to the Father, and that He will send the Paraclete — as regards these, the Acts of the Apostles inform us both for what time the promises were made, and at what time they were actually fulfilled. Ten days had elapsed, we are told, from the Lord’s ascension and fifty from His resurrection, when the Holy Spirit came down, and the tongues of the believers were cloven, so that each spoke every language. Then it was that, when certain persons of those who as yet believed not declared that the disciples were drunk with new wine, Peter standing in the midst of the apostles, and of all the concourse said: “Ye men of Judaea and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants, and on my handmaidens will pour out...of my spirit.”
If, then, the apostle Peter, upon whom the Lord has founded the Church, has expressly said that the prophecy and promise of the Lord were then and there fulfilled, how can we claim another fulfillment for ourselves? if the Montanists reply that Philip’s four daughters prophesied at a later date, and that a prophet is mentioned named Agabus, and that in the partition of the spirit, prophets are spoken of as well as apostles, teachers and others, and that Paul himself prophesied many things concerning heresies still future, and the end of the world; we tell them that we do not so much reject prophecy — for this is attested by the passion of the Lord — as refuse to receive prophets whose utterances fail to accord with the Scriptures old and new.
In the first place we differ from the Montanists regarding the rule of faith. We distinguish the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as three persons, but unite them as one substance. They, on the other hand, following the doctrine of Sabellius, force the Trinity into the narrow limits of a single personality. We, while we do not encourage them, yet allow second marriages [after widowhood], since Paul bids the younger widows to marry. They suppose a repetition of marriage [after widowhood] a sin so awful that he who has committed it is to be regarded as an adulterer. We, according to the apostolic tradition (in which the whole world is at one with us), fast through one Lent yearly; whereas they keep three in the year as though three saviors had suffered. I do not mean, of course, that it is unlawful to fast at other times through the year — always excepting Pentecost — only that while in Lent it is a duty of obligation, at other seasons it is a matter of choice. With us, again, the bishops occupy the place of the apostles, but with them a bishop ranks not first but third. For while they put first the patriarchs of Pepusa in Phrygia, and place next to these the ministers called stewards, the bishops are relegated to the third or almost the lowest rank. No doubt their object is to make their religion more pretentious by putting that last which we put first. Again they close the doors of the Church to almost every fault, whilst we read daily, “I desire the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,” and “Shall they fall and not arise, saith the Lord,” and once more “Return ye backsliding children and I will heal your backslidings.” Their strictness does not prevent them from themselves committing grave sins, far from it; but there is this difference between us and them, that, whereas they in their self-righteousness blush to confess their faults, we do penance for ours, and so more readily gain pardon for them.
I pass over their sacraments of sin, made up as they are said to be, of sucking children subjected to a triumphant martyrdom. I prefer, I say, not to credit these; accusations of blood-shedding may well be false. But I must confute the open blasphemy of men who say that God first determined in the Old Testament to save the world by Moses and the prophets, but that finding Himself unable to fulfill His purpose He took to Himself a body of the Virgin, and preaching’ under the form of the Son in Christ, underwent death for our salvation. Moreover that, when by these two steps He was unable to save the world, He last of all descended by the Holy Spirit upon Montanus and those demented women Prisca and Maximilia; and that thus the mutilated and emasculate Montanus possessed a fullness of knowledge such as was never claimed by Paul; for he was content to say, “We know in part, and we prophesy in part,” and again, “Now we see through a glass darkly.” These are statements which require no refutation. To expose the infidelity of the Montanists is to triumph over it. Nor is it necessary that in so short a letter as this I should overthrow the several absurdities which they bring forward. You are well acquainted with the Scriptures; and, as I take it, you have written, not because you have been disturbed by their cavils, but only to learn my opinion about them.” (Letter 41:1-4 , To Marcella)
“Therefore the Lord told his disciples, “I am departing, and I will send you another Comforter.” Luke also records that this assuring promise was given by Jesus Christ to the apostles. I am surprised that Montanus and the two crazy women accompanying his sect and his errors, who are only failed prophets, argue that this promise of the Savior was not fulfilled until them, long after it was given, because it was to the apostles that the Savior said, “I will send you the promised gift of my Father. But live in the city until you are clothed with the power from on high.” It was upon the apostles, not Montanus, Prisca, and Maxilla, that Jesus Christ has breathed, thus giving them the Holy Spirit. To the apostles it is said, “The sins of those whom you forgive are forgiven, and they will be retained of those whose you retain.” It is the apostles that He ordered not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of His Father, a promise that Luke allows us to see being fulfilled, when he said, “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages, as the Holy Spirit put their words in their mouths,” because The Holy Spirit “blows where He wills.” When Jesus Christ promised His apostles that He would send to send them “another Comforter,” it was already satisfying to know that He was himself the consolation of his apostles, and to know the apostle Paul’s concept of God the Father, when he calls Him the “God of mercy and all comfort.” But if the Father is “Comforter,” if the Son is “Comforter,” if the Holy Spirit is “Comforter,” and if we baptize the faithful in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are only one God, it follows that, having the same name of God, even “Consolation,” they also have a similar nature.” (Letter 120:9, To Hedibia)
“Such being the state of the case, what object is served by
“silly women laden with sins, carried about with every wind of doctrine, ever
learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth?” Or how is the
cause helped by the men who dance attendance upon these, men with itching
ears who know neither how to hear nor how to speak? They confound old mire
with new cement and, as Ezekiel says, daub a wall with untempered mortar; so
that, when the truth comes in a shower, they are brought to naught. It was
with the help of the harlot Helena that Simon Magus founded his sect. Bands
of women accompanied Nicolas of Antioch that deviser of all uncleanness.
Marcion sent a woman before him to
“Oh, monster, who ought to be banished to the ends of the earth! do you laugh at the relics of the martyrs, and in company with Eunomius, the father of this heresy, slander the Churches of Christ? Are you not afraid of being in such company, and of speaking against us the same things which he utters against the Church? For all his followers refuse to enter the basilicas of Apostles and martyrs, so that, forsooth, they may worship the dead Eunomius, whose books they consider are of more authority than the Gospels; and they believe that the light of truth was in him just as other heretics maintain that the Paraclete came into Montanus, and say that Manichaeus himself was the Paraclete. You cannot find an occasion of boasting even in supposing that you are the inventor of a new kind of wickedness, for your heresy long ago broke out against the Church. It found, however, an opponent in Tertullian, a very learned man, who wrote a famous treatise which he called most correctly Scorpiacum, because, as the scorpion bends itself like a bow to inflict its wound. so what was formerly called the heresy of Cain pours poison into the body of the Church; it has slept or rather been buried for a long thee, but has been now awakened by Dormitantius. I am surprised you do not tell us that there must upon no account be martyrdoms, inasmuch as God, who does not ask for the blood of goats and bulls, much less requires the blood of men. This is what you say, or rather, even if you do not say it, you are taken as meaning to assert it.” (Against Vigilantius, 8)
“So away with Novatus, who would not hold out a hand to the erring! perish
Montanus and his mad women! Montanus, who would hurl the fallen into the
abyss that they may never rise again. Every
day we all sin and make some slip or other. Being then merciful to ourselves,
we are not rigorous towards others; nay, rather, we pray and beseech him
either to simply tell us our own faults, or to openly defend those of other
men.” (To Pammachius Against John Of
“The false prophecy, which is called the Cataphrygian, had its beginning, from its founder Montanus, with Priscilla and Maximilla the insane seers.” (Chronicle, Entry For 176AD)
“And so, too, in the epistle to the Hebrews: "For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." Surely we cannot deny that they have been baptized who have been illuminated, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God. But if the baptized cannot sin, how is it now that the Apostle says, "And have fallen away?” Montanus and Novatus would smile at this, for they contend that it is impossible to renew again through repentance those who have crucified to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. He therefore corrects this mistake by saying: "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak; for God is not unrighteous to forget your work and the love which ye shewed towards his name, in that ye ministered unto the Saints, and still do minister."” (Against Jovinianus, 2:3)
“The blessed Cyprian takes Tertullian for his master, as his writings prove; yet, delighted as he is with the ability of this learned and zealous writer he does not join him in following Montanus and Maximilla…One says: “I cannot condemn what no one else has condemned.” Another says: “No decision was arrived at on the point by the Fathers.” It is thus that they appeal to the judgment of the world to put off the necessity of assenting to a condemnation. Another says with yet more assurance: “how am I to condemn men whom the council of Nicæa has left untouched? For the council which condemned Arius would surely have condemned Origen too, had it disapproved of his doctrines.” They were bound in other words to cure all the diseases of the church at once and with one remedy; and by parity of reasoning we must deny the majesty of the Holy Ghost because nothing was said of his nature in that council. But the question was of Arius, not of Origen; of the Son, not of the Holy Ghost. The bishops at the council proclaimed their adherence to a dogma which was at the time denied; they said nothing about a difficulty which no one had raised. And yet they covertly struck at Origen as the source of the Arian heresy: for, in condemning those who deny the Son to be of the substance of the Father, they have condemned Origen as much as Arius. On the ground taken by these persons we have no right to condemn Valentine, Marcion, or the Cataphrygians, or Manichæus, none of whom are named by the council of Nicæa, and yet there is no doubt that in time they were prior to it.” (Letter 84:2, 4)
“O happy penitence which has drawn down upon itself the eyes of God, and which has by confessing its error changed the sentence of God's anger! The same conduct is in the Chronicles attributed to Manasseh, and in the book of the prophet Jonah to Nineveh, and in the gospel to the publican. The first of these not only was allowed to obtain forgiveness but also recovered his kingdom, the second broke the force of God's impending wrath, while the third, smiting his breast with his hands, "would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven." Yet for all that the publican with his humble confession of his faults went back justified far more than the Pharisee with his arrogant boasting of his virtues. This is not however the place to preach penitence, neither am I writing against Montanus and Novatus. Else would I say of it that it is "a sacrifice ... well pleasing to God," I would cite the words of the psalmist: "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit," and those of Ezekiel "I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death," and those of Baruch, "Arise, arise, O Jerusalem, and many other proclamations made by the trumpets of the prophets.” (Letter 77:4)
“Melito of Asia, bishop of Sardis, addressed a book to the emperor Marcus Antoninus Verus, a disciple of Fronto the orator, in behalf of the Christian doctrine…Of his fine oratorical genius, Tertullian, in the seven books which he wrote against the church on behalf of Montanus, satirically says that he was considered a prophet by many of us.” (Lives Of Illustrious Men, 24)
a native of Asia, instructed in the Scriptures at
“Miltiades of whom Rhodo gives an account in the work which he wrote against Montanus, Prisca and Maximilla, wrote a considerable volume against these same persons, and other books Against the nations and the Jews and addressed an Apology to the then ruling emperors. He flourished in the reign of Marcus Antoninus and Commodus.” (Lives Of Illustrious Men, 39)
“Apollonius, an exceedingly talented man, wrote against Montanus, Prisca and Maximilla a notable and lengthy volume, in which he asserts that Montanus and his mad prophetesses died by hanging, and many other things, among which are the following concerning Prisca and Maximilla, “if they denied that they have accepted gifts, let them confess that those who do accept are not prophets and I will prove by a thousand witnesses that they have received gifts, for it is by other fruits that prophets are shown to be prophets indeed. Tell me, does a prophet dye his hair? Does a prophet stain her eyelids with antimony? Is a prophet adorned with fine garments and precious stones? Does a prophet play with dice and tables? Does he accept usury? Let them respond whether this ought to be permitted or not, it will be my task to prove that they do these things.”
He says in the same book, that the time when he wrote the work was the fortieth year after the beginning of the heresy of the Cataphrygians. Tertullian added to the six volumes which he wrote On ecstasy against the church a seventh, directed especially against Apollonius, in which he attempts to defend all which Apollonius refuted. Apollonius flourished in the reigns of Commodus and Severus.” (Lives Of Illustrious Men, 40)
“Serapion, ordained bishop of Antioch in the eleventh year of
the emperor Commodus, wrote a letter to Caricus and Pontius on the heresy of
Montanus, in which he said “that you may know moreover that the madness of
this false doctrine, that is the doctrine of a new prophecy, is reprobated by
all the world, I have sent to you the letters of the most holy Apollinaris
bishop of Hierapolis in Asia.” He wrote a volume also to Domnus, who in time
of persecution went over to the Jews, and another
work on the gospel which passes under the name of Peter, a work to the church
of the Rhosenses in
the presbyter, now regarded as chief of the Latin writers after Victor and
Apollonius, was from the city of Carthage in the province of Africa, and was
the son of a proconsul or Centurion, a man of keen and vigorous character, he
flourished chiefly in the reign of the emperor Severus and Antoninus
Caracalla and wrote many volumes which we pass by because they are well known
to most. I myself have seen a certain Paul an old man of Concordia, a town of
He composed, moreover, directly against the church, volumes: On Modesty, On Persecution, On Fasts, On Monogamy, six books On Ecstasy, and a seventh which he wrote Against Apollonius. He is said to have lived to a decrepit old age, and to have composed many small works, which are not extant.” (Lives Of Illustrious Men, 53)
“We do also abhor the blasphemy of those who say that any impossible thing is commanded to man by God; or that the commandments of God cannot be performed by any one man, but that by all men taken together they may: or that do condemn first marriages in compliance with Manichaeus, or second marriages [for widows] in compliance with the Montanists.” (Confession Of Faith, Addressed To Innocent I)
Synod of Laodicea (4th Century)
“Persons converted from the heresy of those who are called Phrygians, even should they be among those reputed by them as clergymen, and even should they be called the very chiefest, are with all care to be both instructed and baptized by the bishops and presbyters of the Church.” (Canon 8)
Pseudo-Pionius (4th Century)
“In the days of unleavened bread Paul, coming down from Galatia, arrived in Asia…in Smyrna he went to visit Strataeas, who had been his hearer in Pamphylia…Paul then, entering his house and gathering together the faithful there, speaks to them concerning the Passover and the Pentecost, reminding them of the New Covenant of the offering of bread and the cup; how that they ought most assuredly to celebrate it during the days of unleavened bread, but to hold fast the new mystery of the Passion and Resurrection. For here the Apostle plainly teaches that we ought neither to keep it outside the season of unleavened bread, as the heretics do, especially the Phrygians, nor yet on the other hand of necessity on the fourteenth day: for he said nothing about the fourteenth day, but named the days of unleavened bread, the Passover, and the Pentecost, thus ratifying the Gospel.” (Life Of Polycarp, 2)
Augustine Of Hippo (354-430)
“For if the knowledge of the discordant and mutually contradictory opinions of others is of any service to him who would obtain an entrance for Christian truth in overthrowing the opposition of error, it is useful only in the way of preventing the assailant of the truth from being at liberty to fix his eye solely on the work of controverting your tenets, while carefully hiding his own from view. For the knowledge of the truth is of itself sufficient both to detect and ‘to subvert all errors, even those which may not have been heard before, if only they are brought ‘forward. If, however, in order to secure not only the demolition of open errors, but also the rooting out of those which lurk in darkness, it is necessary for you to be acquainted with the erroneous opinions which others have advanced, let both eye and ear be wakeful, I beseech you, — look well and listen well whether any of our assailants bring forward a single argument from Anaximenes and from Anaxagoras, when, though the Stoic and Epicurean philosophies were more recent and taught largely, even their ashes are not so warm as that a single spark can be struck out from them against the Christian faith. The din which resounds in the battle-field of controversy now comes from innumerable small companies and cliques of sectaries, some of them easily discomfited, others presuming to make bold resistance,- such as the partisans of Donatus, Maximian, and Manichaeus here, or the unruly herds of Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians, and Cataphrygians and other pests which abound in the countries to which you are on your way. If you shrink from the task of acquainting yourself with the errors of all these sects, what occasion have we in defending the Christian religion to inquire after the tenets of Anaximenes, and with idle curiosity to awaken anew controversies which have slept for ages, when already the cavilings and arguments even of some of the heretics who claimed the glory of the Christian name, such as the Marcionites and the Sabellians, and man), more, have been put to silence? Nevertheless, if it be necessary, as I have said, to know beforehand some of the opinions which war against the truth, and become thoroughly conversant with these, it is our duty to give a place in such study to the heretics who call themselves Christians, much rather than to Anaxagoras and Democritus. (Letter 118:2:12)
“Further, what is said in the promise of the Paraclete shows that it cannot possibly refer to Manichaeus, who came so many years after. For it is distinctly said by John, that the Holy Spirit was to come immediately after the resurrection and ascension of the Lord: “For the Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” Now, if the reason why the Spirit was not given was, that Jesus was not glorified, He would necessarily be given immediately on the glorification of Jesus. In the same way, the Cataphrygians said that they had received the promised Paraclete; and so they fell away from the Catholic faith, forbidding what Paul allowed, and condemning second marriages [after widowhood], which he made lawful. They turned to their own use the words spoken of the Spirit, “He shall lead you into all truth,” as if, forsooth, Paul and the other apostles had not taught all the truth, but had left room for the Paraclete of the Cataphrygians. The same meaning they forced from the words of Paul: “We know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away;” making out that the apostle knew and prophesied in part, when he said, “Let him do what he will; if he marries he sinneth not,” and that this is done away by the perfection of the Phrygian Paraclete. And if they are told that they are condemned by the authority of the Church, which is the subject of such ancient promises, and is spread all over the world, they reply that this is in exact fulfillment of what is said of the Paraclete, that the world cannot receive Him. And are not those passages, “He shall lead you into all truth,” and, “When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away,” and, “The world cannot receive Him,” precisely those in which you find a prediction of Manichaeus? And so every heresy arising under the name of the Paraclete will have the boldness to make an equally plausible application to itself of such texts. For there is no heresy but will call itself the truth; and the prouder it is, the more likely it will be to call itself perfect truth: and so it will profess to lead into all truth; and since that which is perfect has come by it, it will try to do away with the doctrine of the apostles, to which its own errors are opposed. And as the Church holds by the earnest admonition of the apostle, that “whoever preaches another gospel to you than that which ye have received, let him be accursed;” when the heretical preacher begins to be pronounced accursed by all the world, will he not forthwith exclaim, This is what is written, “The world cannot receive Him”?” (Reply To Faustus The Manichean, 17)
“Some of the Manichaeans reject the canonical book entitled Acts of the Apostles. For they are afraid of its very clear truth where it is clear that the Holy Spirit was sent as He had been promised in the true Gospel by our Lord Jesus Christ. Under the name of this Spirit to whom they are utterly opposed they deceive the untutored hearts of men, asserting with an astonishing blindness that this same promise of the Lord was fulfilled in the person of Manichaean heresiarch. Other heretics called Cataphrygians do the same thing, saying that the Holy Spirit whom the Lord promised to send came in the person of some demented persons—Montanus, for example, and Priscilla, whom they regard as their own special prophets.” (Letter 237)
“Let us not heed those who say that the Holy Spirit, promised to the disciples by the Lord in the Gospel, has come either in the person of the Apostle Paul, or in the persons of Montanus and Priscilla, according to the Cataphrygians; or, as the Manichaeans allege, in the person of a certain Manes or Manichaeus. These heretics are too headstrong to grasp the plain meaning of the Scriptures, or else, having no concern about their salvation, they do not read them at all. For, in reading the Gospel, who can fail to understand what is written following the Lord’s resurrection, where He says: ‘And I send forth upon you the promise of my Father. But wait here in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.’
These heretics do not take cognizance of the fact that on the tenth day after the Lord had withdrawn from the sight of the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, the holy Spirit came in a very evident manner, according to the Acts of the Apostles; and that, while they were in the city, as He had told them beforehand, they were so filled by the Holy Spirit that they spoke in tongues. Now, the different nations that were there at the time understood the Apostles, each hearing his own language. These heretics, on the other hand, deceive those who are unwilling to learn, and who neglect the Catholic faith, and that very faith of their own which is clearly contained in the Scriptures; and, what is more serious and lamentable, while they live carelessly as Catholics, they lend an attentive ear to the heretics.” (The Christian Combat, 28)
“Furthermore, it was also stated that the nets were broken. When nets have been broken, heresies and schisms have taken place. The nets, indeed, take in all persons; but unmanageable fishes, those who do not wish to come to the food of the Lord, push, break out, and leave whenever they can. To be sure, the nets are stretched out over the whole world; those who break out, however, do so in certain places. The Donatists broke away in Africa, the Arians broke away in Egypt, the Photinians broke away in Pannonia, the Cataphrygians broke away in Phrygia, and the Manichaeans in Persia. In how many places the net has been broken! Nevertheless, it brings to shore, but when they break the net, do all the wicked leave? Assuredly, people do not depart unless they are evil; both good and evil, however, remain. Otherwise, how is the net brought to the shore with both the good and bad fishes of which the Lord spoke in the parable?” (Sermon 252:4)
“To Eutropius, Praetorian Prefect.
Let no place be afforded to heretics for the conduct of their ceremonies, and let no occasion be offered for them to display the insanity of their obstinate minds. Let all persons know that if any privilege has been fraudulently obtained by means of any rescript whatsoever, by persons of this kind, it will not be valid. Let all bodies of heretics be prevented from holding unlawful assemblies, and let the name of the only and the greatest God be celebrated everywhere, and let the observance of the Nicene Creed, recently transmitted by Our ancestors, and firmly established by the testimony and practice of Divine Religion, always remain secure.
(1) Moreover, he who is an adherent of the Nicene Faith, and a true believer in the Catholic religion, should be understood to be one who believes that Almighty God and Christ, the Son of God, are one person, God of God, Light of Light; and let no one, by rejection, dishonor the Holy Spirit, whom we expect, and have received from the Supreme Parent of all things, in whom the sentiment of a pure and undefiled faith flourishes, as well as the belief in the undivided substance of a Holy Trinity, which true believers indicate by the Greek word homousion. These things, indeed, do not require further proof, and should be respected.
(2) Let those who do not accept these doctrines cease to apply the name of true religion to their fraudulent belief; and let them be branded with their open crimes, and, having been removed from the threshhold of all churches, be utterly excluded from them, as We forbid all heretics to hold unlawful assemblies within cities. If, however, any seditious outbreak should be attempted, We order them to be driven outside the walls of the City, with relentless violence, and We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.
Given at Constantinople, on the fourth of the Ides of January, under the Consulate of Flavius Eucharius and Flavius Syagrius.”* (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 1:2)
* This law was really directed more towards Arians than the Montanists, still it is included here because it could have been used against the Montanists in light of their being outside of the established orthodox church.
“To Hesperidus, Praetorian Prefect.
Let all heresies forbidden by Divine Law and the Imperial Constitutions be forever suppressed. Let no one hereafter attempt either to teach or to learn any precepts which he has ascertained to be profane, and let no bishops venture to teach the faith which they do not profess, and appoint ministers which are not such; and audacity of this description shall not be neglected and permitted to increase through the connivance of magistrates, and of all those who are directed to have charge of matters of this kind.
(1) Under the name of "heretics" are included those who ought to be convicted of having violated laws passed against them; or who, on frivolous grounds, have been found to have deviated from the judgment and principles of the Catholic religion.
Given at Milan, on the third of the Nones of August, during the Consulate of Ausonius and Olybrius, 379AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:2)
Council of Constantinople (381)
“Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari or Aristori, and Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, and Apollinarians, we receive, upon their giving a written renunciation [of their errors] and anathematize every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God. Thereupon, they are first sealed or anointed with the holy oil upon the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears; and when we seal them, we say, “The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost.” But Eunomians, who are baptized with only one immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, and [the partisans of] all other heresies — for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians: — all these, when they desire to turn to orthodoxy, we receive as heathen. On the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens; on the third, we exorcise them by breathing thrice in their face and ears; and thus we instruct them and oblige them to spend some time in the Church, and to hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.” (Canon 7)
Emperors Theodosius I (c.346-381), Valentinian II (371-392), and Arcadius (c.377-408)
“To Flavian, Praetorian Prefect.
Those who have betrayed the Holy Faith, and have profaned the sacred rite of baptism by heretical superstition, shall be separated from association with all other persons, and shall not have the right to testify against anyone, or to make a will (as We have already decreed), nor shall they succeed to estates or be appointed heirs.
We would have also ordered them to be cast out and sent away to a distance, if it had not seemed to be a great punishment for them to live among men, and be deprived of intercourse with them. But they shall never be restored to their former condition, nor shall their crime be effaced by repentance, or their guilt removed by the shade of a skillful defence or excuse; as those who pollute the faith which they had consecrated to God, and, betraying the Divine mysteries, have adopted profane ones, cannot defend what is false and artificial. Assistance is given to those who have fallen and wandered, but no aid will be accorded to those who are lost; that is to say, those who profane the sacred rite of baptism, for they will find no remedy in repentance which usually is beneficial in other crimes.
Given on the fifth of the Ides of May, during the Consulate of Titianus and Symmachus, 391AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 7:3)
“To Studius, Urban Prefect.
We forbid persons to hold religious assemblies in private houses, even outside the Church, under the penalty of confiscation of the house, if the owner of the same permitted ecclesiastics to hold new and tumultuous meetings therein outside the church.
Given at Constantinople, on the fourth of the Kalends of September, during the Consulate of Honorius, Consul for the seventh time, and Aristenetus, 404AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 3:15)
“To John, Praetorian Prefect.
…These matters having been disposed of in this way, We order that the law shall be repeated which provides that no Jew, Pagan, or heretic shall hold Christian slaves; and if any should be found to have done so, We direct that all such slaves shall become absolutely free, in accordance with the tenor of Our former laws.
Moreover, We now further decree that, if anyone of the abovementioned Jews, Pagans or heretics should have slaves who have not yet been initiated into the most holy mysteries of the Catholic faith, and the aforesaid slaves desire to embrace the orthodox religion, they shall, by this law, become absolutely free, after having united with the Catholic Church; and that the judges of the provinces, the defenders of the Holy Church, as well as the most blessed bishops, shall prevent anything being received by their masters as the price of the said slaves.
If, after this, their masters should be converted to the orthodox faith, they shall not be permitted to reduce those to slavery who preceded them in this respect, and anyone who usurps rights of this kind shall be subjected to the severest penalties. Therefore all judges and reverend archbishops, not only in the dioceses of Africa (in which We have ascertained that abuses of this kind are frequent), or in any other provinces, shall see that all these things which We have ordered for the sake of piety shall be rigidly and zealously observed.
Violators of this law shall not only be punished with a pecuniary fine, but also with the penalty of death.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 3:42)
“To Clearchus, Prefect of the City.
Let all heretics know positively that their places of assembly shall be taken from them, whether these are designated under the name of churches, or are called deaconates, or deaneries, or whether meetings of this kind are held in private houses; for all such private places or buildings shall be claimed by the Catholic Church.
(1) All persons are accordingly forbidden to assemble by day or night, in profane assemblies, for the purpose of conducting alleged religious services; and where anything of this kind is permitted to be done either in a public or a private house, the official who allows it, if he is the Prefect of the City, shall be fined a hundred pounds of gold, or if he is the Governor, shall be fined fifty pounds of gold.
Given on the fifth of the Nones of March, during the Consulate of Arcadius, Consul for the fourth time, and Honorius, Consul for the third time, 396AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:3)
“To Caesar Florentius, Praetorian Prefect.
Arians, Macedonians, Pneumatomachians, Appollinarians, Novatians or Sabatians, Eunomians, Tetradites or Tessarecaidecadites, Valentinians, Paulians, Papianists, Montanists or Priscillians, Phrygians, Pepuzites, Marcionists, Borborites, Messalians, Euchites, or Enthusiasts, Donatists, Audians, Hydroparastetes, Tascodrogites, Batracites, Hermogenians, Photinians, Paulinists, Marcellians, Ophites, Encratitians, Carpocratitans, Saccophores, and Manicheans, who are to be classed as guilty of the worst of all heretical crimes, shall never have the power to assemble or reside in the Roman Empire. Moreover, Manicheans must be expelled from towns, and delivered up to extreme punishment, for no place should be left them in which they may cause any injury even to the elements.
Moreover, all laws which have formerly, at different times, been enacted against them and others who are opposed to our religion, shall always be observed in all their force, whether they have reference to donations made in assemblies of heretics, which they audaciously attempt to designate as churches, or to property left under any circumstances by a last will, or to private buildings in which they meet, either with the permission or connivance of the owner, and which should be claimed by us for the Holy Catholic Church; or whether they refer to an agent who has acted without the knowledge of his principal, who, if he is free born, shall be subject to a fine of ten pounds of gold, and if he is of a servile condition, shall be sentenced to the mines, after having been scourged; so that they can not assemble in any public place, or build their so-called churches, and can plan nothing for the evasion of the laws; and no assistance, either civil or military, shall be furnished them by either curiæ, defenders, or judges, under the penalty of twenty pounds of gold.
All laws which have been promulgated with reference to the army, to various penalties, and to different kinds of heretics, shall remain in full force, so that no special privilege shall be valid as against said laws.
Given at Constantinople, on the third of the Kalends of June, under the Consulate of Felix and Taurus, 428AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:5)
“To Florentius, Prætorian Prefect.
We think that the curiae of all cities, as well as persons in the army, and those, who are obliged to perform various duties, either official or personal, should fulfill them (no matter to what sect they may belong), lest We should seem to have afforded the benefit of immunity to men who should be execrated on account of their infamous belief, and whom We wish to be condemned by the authority of this Constitution.
Given on the day before the Kalends of February, during the Consulate of Theodosius, Consul for the sixteenth time, and Faustus, 409AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:7)
“To Palladius, Praetorian Prefect.
No one, whether he belongs to the clergy, the army, or to any other condition of men, shall, with a view to causing a tumult and giving occasion to treachery, attempt to discuss the Christian religion publicly in the presence of an assembled and listening crowd; for he commits an injury against the most reverend Synod who publicly contradicts what has once been decided and properly established; as those matters relative to the Christian Faith have been settled by the priests who met at Chalcedony by Our order, and are known to be in conformity with the apostolic explanations and conclusions of the three hundred and eight Holy Fathers assembled in Nicea, and the hundred and fifty who met in this Imperial City; for the violators of this law shall not go unpunished, because they not only oppose the true faith, but they also profane its venerated mysteries by engaging in contests of this kind with Jews and Pagans. Therefore, if any person who has ventured to publicly discuss religious matters is a member of the clergy, he shall be removed from his order; if he is a member of the army, he shall be degraded; and any others who are guilty of this offence, who are freemen, shall be banished from this most Sacred City, and shall be subjected to the punishment prescribed by law according to the power of the court; and if they are slaves, they shall undergo the severest penalty.
Given at Constantinople, on the eighth of the Ides of February, under the consulship of Patricius.”* (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 1:3)
* This law appears to only affect those living in Constantinople and was directed towards those preaching Monophysitism. Still, it could have been used to prevent any Montanists visiting or living in Constantinople from preaching out in public.
“I was never asked whether I was assembling synods or not, or for what reason I was assembling them, or what umbrage this could give, either to the Church or to the government; yet just as though I had been a very guilty criminal I am prohibited from visiting other cities; while to every one else every city lies open, and that not only to Arians and Eunomians, but to Manichees and Marcionists, to them that are sick with the unsoundness of Valentinus and Montanus, aye to pagans and Jews, while I, a foremost champion of the teaching of the Gospels, am from every city excluded.” (Letter 81)
“The head of the heresy called Cataphrygian was named Montanus, who came from a village located in that country called Ardaba. Spurred by ambition, he called himself the Paraclete and procured two prophetesses, Priscilla and Maximilla. He called the books written by these women prophetic books, and named the village of Pepuza Jerusalem. He also ordered the dissolution of marriage and introduced new fasts contrary to the custom of the Church. However, he did not corrupt the doctrine of the Trinity, and he professed the same beliefs as us on the creation of the world. Those who belong to his teaching are called by the name of Montanus, Montanists, by the name of their race, Cataphrygians, and by the name of this town named Jerusalem by Montanus, Pepuzians. The prophecies of Priscilla and Maximilla are honored among them more than the divine Gospel is. With respect to their mysteries, there are those who raise objections, but others refuse to join in these objections, and even refer to these accusations as being slander. Some of the Montanists deny, in a manner similar to that of Sabellius, the three hypostases of the Deity, and support the idea, as the Asiatic Noetus did, that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the same. Apolinarius, the bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, a man worthy of praise, and which, besides the science of things divine, had also acquired a knowledge of secular affairs, wrote against them. Similarly Miltiades, Apollonius and other writers wrote against them. Gaius, which has already been mentioned above, wrote, against Proclus, one of the leaders of this same heresy.” (Compendium Of Heretical Falsehood, 3 :1)
“To Erythrius, Praetorian Prefect.
When anyone belonging to the orthodox religion, by means of either a true or a fictitious sale, or by any other right or title whatsoever, desires to transfer any lands, possessions, or other immovable property, on which have been built churches or chapters of the orthodox faith, to some person belonging to a heretical sect, or who entertains opinions contrary to the orthodox faith, We decree that any disposition of property of this kind between living persons, or which has been made in secret, shall not be valid, even if it was conveyed by a vendor of the orthodox faith, or by any other person under a fictitious title, or under any condition whatsoever, but that all instruments of this kind shall be void, just as if they had never been drawn up.
We also decree that all such lands and possessions which have been transferred or conveyed to heretics, in any way whatsoever, shall be claimed by our Treasury; and if the said lands should remain in the hands of orthodox owners or possessors, or should be acquired by Our Treasury, it will be necessary for the said churches and chapels to be diligently and carefully restored. The wisdom of Our Majesty intends to provide that the temples of Almighty God in which the institutions of our religion are destined to endure, having been restored shall be preserved with assiduous care through all coming centuries; for it cannot be doubted that if lands of this kind, on which churches and chapels of the true faith have been built, should fall into the hands of heretics, their integrity will remain unimpaired, but they will be deserted and forsaken, deprived of all worship, bereft of all their accustomed mysteries, and stripped of all their splendor. No assemblies of the people will take place in them, and no rites be celebrated there by the clergy; and, for this reason, the said churches will undoubtedly be destroyed, fall into ruin, and be levelled with the ground; for heretics will not, at any time, think of the restoration of structures which they do not wish to remain in existence.
Given on the fifth of the Ides of August, during the Consulate of Boëtius and Euthericus, 511AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:9)
“To Julianus, Praetorian Prefect.
We have ascertained that there are many orthodox children neither whose fathers nor mothers belong to the true faith; and therefore, We order that in cases where but one of the parents has embraced the orthodox religion, as well as in those where both parents are members of another sect, only such children as are included under the venerated title of orthodox shall be called to their succession, either under a will or ab intestato, and that they alone shall be entitled to receive donations and other liberalities. The other children of those persons who have followed, not the love of Almighty God, but the impious belief of their fathers or mothers, shall be excluded from all benefits. Where, however, no orthodox children are living, the property, or the succession, shall go to their agnates or cognates, provided they are orthodox. But if no such agnate or cognate can be found, then the estate shall be claimed by Our Treasury.
(1) In order that We may not seem to have failed to make provision for children at the death of their parents (a fact which has been recognized by Us), We require such parents to support their orthodox children, in accordance with their means, and to furnish them everything which is necessary for their preservation, or their daily life; and also to give dowries for their daughters and granddaughters, and make antenuptial donations for their sons and grandsons, and in every instance, gifts of this kind should be in proportion to the value of their estates, in order to prevent children from being defrauded by the dispositions of their father or mother, on account of their choice of the Divine love. All Our Constitutions which have established penalties against Pagans, Manicheans, Borborites, Samaritans, Montanists, Tascodrogites, Ophytes, and other heretics, are confirmed by this Our law, and shall remain forever valid.
Given at Constantinople, on the tenth of the Kalends of December, during the Consulate of Lampadius and Orestes, 500AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:10)
“To John, Praetorian Prefect.
As many judges requiring Our advice have consulted Us as to the disposal of litigation, in order that they may be advised what to decide with reference to heretic witnesses, and whether their testimony should be accepted or rejected, We order that no testimony shall be given against orthodox litigants by a heretic, or by those who adhere to the Jewish superstition, whether one, or both parties to the suit are orthodox.
We grant permission to heretics or Jews, when they have litigation with one another, to introduce witnesses qualified to testify, with the exception, however, of those who are controlled by the Manichean insanity, which it is evident is also shared with the Borborites and those who believe in the Pagan superstition; and the Samaritans are also excepted, as well as those who are not unlike them, together with the Montanists, the Tascodrogites, and the Ophytes, to whom all legal actions are forbidden on account of the similarity of their offences. We therefore order that the right to be a witness, along with all other lawful acts, shall be forbidden to the Manicheans, the Borborites, and the Pagans, as well as to the Samaritans, the Montanists, the Tascodrogites, and the Ophytes.
We desire that the privileges of giving testimony in court against orthodox persons shall only be forbidden to other heretics, in accordance with what has been already decided. We admit their evidence, however, with reference to wills and whatever relates to the final disposition of property or to contracts, without any distinction, on the ground of public utility and necessity, and in order that difficulty of proof may not be increased.
Given at Constantinople, on the third of the Kalends of August, after the Consulate of Lampadius and Orestes, 532AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:11)
“To John, Praetorian Prefect.
We order that Our Divine Decree by which We have ordered that no one who accepts the error of heretics can receive an estate, a legacy, or a trust, shall also apply to the last wills of soldiers, whether they are made under the Common, or military law.
Given, on the Kalends of September, after the Consulate of Lampadius and Orestes, during the second year of the reign of Justinian, 535AD.” (The Code Of Justinian, Book 1, Title 5:12)
Socrates Scholasticus (4th-5th Centuries)
“Those who objected to the word homoousios, conceived that those who approved it favored the opinion of Sabellius and Montanus; they therefore called them blasphemers, as subverting the existence of the Son of God.” (Ecclesiastical History, 1:23)
“Origen also in the first volume of his Commentaries on the apostle’s epistle to the Romans gives an ample exposition of the sense in which the term Theotocos is used. It is therefore obvious that Nestorius had very little acquaintance with the treatises of the ancients, and for that reason, as I observed, objected to the word only: for that he does not assert Christ to be a mere man, as Photinus did or Paul of Samosata, his own published homilies fully demonstrate. In these discourses he nowhere destroys the proper personality of the Word of God; but on the contrary invariably maintains that he has an essential and distinct personality and existence. Nor does he ever deny his subsistence as Photinus and the Samosatan did, and as the Manichaeans and followers of Montanus have also dared to do.” (Ecclesiastical History 7:32)
Salaminius Hermias Sozomen (4th-5th Centuries)
“Although the doctrine of Arius was zealously supported by many
persons in disputations, a party had not as yet been formed to whom the name
of Arians could be applied as a distinctive appellation; for all assembled
together as a church and held communion with each other, with the exception
of the Novatians, those called
Phrygians, the Valentinians, the Marcionites, the Paulianians, and
some few others who adhered to already invented heresies. The emperor,
however, enacted a law that their own houses of prayer should be abolished;
and that they should meet in the churches, and not hold church in private
houses, or in public places. He deemed it better to hold fellowship in the
Catholic Church, and he advised them to assemble in her walls. By means of
this law, almost all the heresies, I believe, disappeared. During the reign
of preceding emperors, all who worshipped Christ, however they might have
differed from each other in opinion, received the same treatment from the
pagans, and were persecuted with equal cruelty. These common calamities, to
which they were all equally liable, prevented them from prosecuting any close
inquiries as to the differences of opinion which existed among themselves; it
was therefore easy for the members of each party to hold church by
themselves, and by continually conferring with one another, however few they
might have been in number, they were not disrupted. But after this law was
passed they could not assemble in public, because it was forbidden; nor could
they hold their assemblies in secret, for they were watched by the bishops
and clergy of their city. Hence the greater number of these
sectarians were led, by fear of consequences, to join themselves to
the Catholic Church. Those who adhered to their original sentiments did not,
at their death, leave any disciples to propagate their heresy, for they could
neither come together into the same place, nor were they able to teach in
security those of the same opinions. On account either of the absurdity of
the heretical dogmas, or of the utter ignorance of those who devised and
taught them, the respective followers of each heresy were, from the
beginning, very few in number. The
Novatians alone, who had obtained good leaders, and who entertained the same
opinions respecting the Divinity as the Catholic Church, were numerous, from
the beginning, and remained so, not being much injured by this law; the
emperor, I believe, willingly relaxed in their favor the rigor of the
enactment, for he only desired to strike terror into the minds of his
subjects, and had no intention of persecuting them. Acesius, who was then the
bishop of this heresy in
“The Montanists, who are called Pepuzites and Phrygians, celebrate the Passover according to a strange fashion which they introduced. They blame those who regulate the time of observing the feast according to the course of the moon, and affirm that it is right to attend exclusively to the cycles of the sun. They reckon each month to consist of thirty days, and account the day after the vernal equinox as the first day of the year, which, according to the Roman method of computation, would be called the ninth day before the calends of April. It was on this day, they say, that the two great luminaries appointed for the indication of times and of years were created. This they prove by the fact that every eight years the sun and the moon meet together in the same point of the heavens. The moon’s cycle of eight years is accomplished in ninety-nine months, and in two thousand nine hundred and twenty-two days; and during that time there are eight revolutions made by the sun, each comprising three hundred and sixty-five days, and the fourth part of a day. For they compute the day of the creation of the sun, mentioned in Sacred Writ, to have been the fourteenth day of the moon, occurring after the ninth day before the calends of the month of April, and answering to the eighth day prior to ides of the same month. They always celebrate the Passover on this day, when it falls on the day of the resurrection; otherwise they celebrate it on the following Lord’s day; for it is written according to their assertion that the feast may be held on any day between the fourteenth and twenty-first.” (Ecclesiastical History, 7:18)
“There are, for instance, many cities in Scythia, and yet they all have but one bishop; whereas, in other nations a bishop serves as priest even over a village, as I have myself observed in Arabia, and in Cyprus, and among the Novatians and Montanists of Phrygia.” (Ecclesiastical History, 7:19)
Macarius Magnes (4th-5th Centuries)
“At once then I can tell you of Manes in Persia, who imitated the name of Christ, and corrupted by his error many a satrapy and many a country in the East, and up to this day pollutes the world by creeping over it with his injurious seed. And another is Montanus in Phrygia, who, bearing this name, underwent in the name of the Lord an ascetic and unnatural course of life, revealing himself as the abode of a baneful demon, and feeding on his error through all the land of Mysia as far as that of Asia. And so great was the power of the hidden demon which lurked within him, that he very nearly tainted the whole world with the poison of his error. And why should I tell you of Cerinthus and Simon, or Marcion or Bardesanes, or Droserius or Dositheus the Cilician, or countless others whose number I shrink from reckoning. All these and those who affected them, appropriating to themselves the name of Christianity, wrought unspeakable error in the world, and have taken numberless spoils and captives. Moreover, as these are Anti-christs, or contrary to God, their followers are no longer willing to bear the name of Christian, but like to be called, after the name of their leaders, Manichaeans, Montanists, Marcionists, Droserians, and Dositheans. Do you see the baneful armies of many Antichrists terribly inflamed against Christ and the Christians, and then do you say that none of the things has come of which the Saviour prophesied? Do you behold the armed array of those contrary to God, and then do you set aside the Saviour's prediction?”* (The Apocriticus, 4:15)
* The prediction was that many would come in His name saying, “I am Christ” (Matt. 24:4-5).
Praedestinatus (5th Century)
“The Cataphrygians started as the 26th heresy. They take their name from the province that they came from, not from their teachings. The authors were Montanus, Prisca, and Maximilla.
They claim that the arrival of Holy Spirit which the Lord promised [to send] is in themselves rather than the apostles. They deem remarriage [after widowhood] to be fornication, and say that the reason which the Apostle Paul allowed them was because he only knew in part and only prophesied in part; for that which is perfect had not yet come. This perfection they insanely say has come in Montanus and in his prophetesses whom we have spoken of earlier.
Up until this point I have spoken about the Cataphrygians. I will pass over other things which are said [about them] as if they are uncertain. We will only mention [of these uncertain things] the rumors about the drinking of babies’ blood, for fear that we appear to be ignorant of all that is said about them. For those who have written against them in detail do not mention anything about this.
Holy Soter, Pope of the City [of Rome], wrote a book against them, as did the leader, Apollonius of Ephesus. Tertullian of Carthage, a priest, wrote against these two. In every way he wrote well, wrote in a first rate way and his writing skill was incomparable to anyone else’s. The only negative thing about him was that he defended Montanus, disobeying the command of Pope Soter of Rome as mentioned earlier, asserting that the talk of babies’ blood was false, asserting one God in trinity, penitence for the lapsed, one Easter with the same ceremonies as ours.
“This is the only way we differ,” he said, “in that we do not admit second marriages [after widowhood], and that we do not reject the prohecy of Montanus on the future judgment.”” (Praedestinatus, 26)
“The heresy of the Pepuzians is the 27th one—they are named after a certain place. Epiphanius states that it is a deserted town, however they call it Jerusalem, believing there to be something divine about it.
They are even going so far as to give leadership positions to women, so that they are honored among them like a priest [is honored among us].
They say that there are two churches in the same city of Pepuza—one of Quintilla and the other of Priscilla. They are one with the Cataphrygians but they despise them as the Pepuzians consider themselves to be better than the rest.
They say that Pepuza was the home of Montanus, Prisca and Maximilla, and that it was there that they started to share their message and passed their lives. This is why they call the place Jerusalem and since they live there the refer to themselves as being better than the rest.
The Bishop of Ephesus, Apollonius, overcame them.” (Praedestinatus, 26)
“We read that the Tertullianists were condemned at some point by Soter, the Pope of Rome. Here is the reason why we have dealt with them as just the 86th heresy: A woman named Octaviana had come from Africa. Her husband named Hesperius was noticed being very friendly with Lord Arbogast, and he was also close to the powerful Maximus (who was a usurper). This woman, Octaviana, brought with her a believable and crafty spirit, which could not be offset by one hundred quotations from the saints, and she trusted in this man.
When he* said that he was a Tertullianist presbyter, using the Holy Scripture he obtained permission to build for himself a college outside of the walls of the City.
Being in a position of security because of his relationship with the tyrant Maximus, he shut us out of the place dedicated to our holy ones, that is of the two brothers named Processus and Martianus, saying that they had been Phrygians, and that for that reason it was lawful for him, as a follower of Tertullian, to do this. And in this way he led astray the people during Easter.
But when God gave victory to the religious emperor Theodosius, and with the punishment for the supporter of Maximus°, whose overthrow shook the foundation of the Tertullianist’s power, the Tertullianist immediately fled with his wife, and it was never heard (not even in a rumor) whether he was alive or dead.
[With that having happened] God restored the joyous Catholic festivities of his martyrs [Processus and Martianus].
This Tertullian that we have mentioned was a citizen and presbyter in Carthage. He wrote very eloquent and fervent works in defense of the truth.
In Carthage he had a basilica which his congregation used continuously up until the time of Bishop Aurelius. By the efforts of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, discussing in a reasonable manner with them, they were converted, and he brought their church into the holy church.
In spite of their having been reunited with the holy church, the Catholic church censures Tertullian who said that soul is begotten from soul, and defended Montanus, Prisca and Maximilla, against the catholic faith, and against Apollonius the eastern bishop, and against Pope Soter of Rome, as we mentioned earlier when we discussed the Cataphrygian heretics. It was these from whom he later split (this information is included for fear that the ordinary Montanist should see the name of Tertullian excluded) and he got rid of every vanity that the Phrygians had and set up his own congregations of Tertullianists. However, he changed nothing in matters of faith.
He condemned second marriages [after widowhood], as we earlier mentioned, asserted that the soul is generated by the parents, and gave us catholics the name ‘psychics’. So, in whatever of Tertullian’s writings where you read the phrase ‘Against the Psychics,’ you should understand him to be writing ‘Against the Catholics’.” (Praedestinatus, 86)
° Lord Arbogast
Gennadius (5th Century)
the Presbyter was likewise as I learned from the writings of Optatus,
afterwards secretly bishop of the Donatians in
Vincent of Lerins (5th Century)
“The case is the same with Tertullian. For as Origen holds by far the first place among the Greeks, so does Tertullian among the Latins. For who more learned than he, who more versed in knowledge whether divine or human? With marvelous capacity of mind he comprehended all philosophy, and had a knowledge of all schools of philosophers, and of the founders and upholders of schools, and was acquainted with all their rules and observances, and with their various histories and studies. Was not his genius of such unrivaled strength and vehemence that there was scarcely any obstacle which he proposed to himself to overcome, that he did not penetrate by acuteness, or crush by weight? As to his style, who can sufficiently set forth its praise? It was knit together with so much cogency of argument that it compelled assent, even where it failed to persuade. Every word almost was a sentence; every sentence a victory. This know the Marcions, the Apelleses, the Praxeases, the Hermogeneses, the Jews, the Heathens, the Gnostics, and the rest, whose blasphemies he overthrew by the force of his many and ponderous volumes, as with so many thunderbolts. Yet this man also, notwithstanding all that I have mentioned, this Tertullian, I say, too little tenacious of Catholic doctrine, that is, of the universal and ancient faith, more eloquent by far than faithful, changed his belief, and justified what the blessed Confessor, Hilary, writes of him, namely, that “by his subsequent error he detracted from the authority of his approved writings.” He also was a great trial in the Church. But of Tertullian I am unwilling to say more. This only I will add, that, contrary to the injunction of Moses, by asserting the novel furies of Montanus which arose in the Church, and those mad dreams of new doctrine dreamed by mad women, to be true prophecies, he deservedly made both himself and his writings obnoxious to the words, “If there arise a prophet in the midst of thee,”... “thou shall not hearken to the words of that prophet. “For why? “Because the Lord your God doth make trial of you, whether you love Him or not.”” (Commonitory, Ch 18:46)
Gelasius I (d. 496)
“The remaining writings which have been compiled or been recognised by heretics or schismatics the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church does not in any way receive; of these we have thought it right to cite below a few which have been handed down and which are to be avoided by catholics:
…the works of Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla = apocrypha…
…These and those similar ones, which Simon Magus, Nicolaus, Cerinthus, Marcion, Basilides, Ebion, Paul of Samosata, Photinus and Bonosus, who suffered from similar error, also Montanus with his obscene followers, Apollinaris, Valentinus the Manichaean, Faustus the African, Sabellius, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Novatus, Sabbatius, Calistus, Donatus, Eustasius, Jovianus, Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum, Caelestius, Maximian, Priscillian from Spain, Nestorius of Constantinople, Maximus the Cynic, Lampetius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, Peter and the other Peter, of whom one disgraced Alexandria and the other Antioch, Acacius of Constantinople with his associates, and what also all disciples of heresy and of the heretics and schismatics, whose names we have scarcely preserved, have taught or compiled, we acknowledge is to be not merely rejected but eliminated from the whole Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and with their authors and the followers of its authors to be damned in the inextricable shackles of anathema forever.” (Gelasian Decree, 5)
Book of Popes (5th or 6th Centuries)
“Innocent, by nationality an Alban, son of Innocent, occupied the see 15 years, 2 months and 21 days.
He made a regulation for the whole church and statutes concerning Monastic rules and concerning Jews and pagans and he found many Cataphrygians in the city whom he constrained to exile in a monastery.” (Liber Pontificalis, Entry 42 On Innocent I)
Emperor Justinian I, The Great (c.482-565)
“Rules concerning the Venerated Church, etc. The churches of Africa shall be entitled to the property of which they were deprived by the Arians, and shall recover it without being interfered with by anyone, but they must pay any public or private claims that may be due.
A heretic shall not confer the rite of baptism, or discharge the duties of a public office, and a catechumen shall not circumcise anyone. No heretic shall, under any circumstances, have a house of worship, or a place of prayer. The Carthaginian Church shall enjoy all the privileges granted by the Code to other churches in general. Anyone who takes refuge in a Carthaginian church shall be immune from arrest, unless he has committed homicide, the rape of a virgin, or has been guilty of violence towards a Christian. No one shall take from the churches of Africa any objects which have been donated by persons in gratitude for their restoration to health. This rule shall be generally observed with reference to all churches.” (Authentic Or New Constitutions Of Our Lord The Most Holy Emperor Justinian, Fourth Collection, Title 16, 37th New Constitution)
“To John, Praetorian Prefect, Twice Consul and Patrician.
Your Highness has informed Us that Jews, Samaritans, Montanists, and other men deserving of contempt, for whom the light of the immaculate faith has never shone, who remain in darkness and have never experienced in their minds the benefit of the true sacraments, are included among decurions; and because We hold heretics in horror, they think, for this reason, that they are exempt from curial obligations, and refuse to perform the duties incumbent upon them. We, however, are surprised that one of your wisdom and shrewdness should have accepted their excuses, and did not at once hasten to punish them, for if certain individuals think that, because of some extreme absurdity, they are entitled to the enjoyment of certain privileges which We have reserved only for persons of the highest distinction, who is there among Our subjects who will not hereafter manifest extreme insolence and folly? Wherefore, let such men continue to perform curial as well as official duties, as was formerly decreed, whether they complain or not; and no religion or civil condition shall render them exempt (for nothing is mentioned on this point in either the ancient or modern law), but they shall not enjoy the honor attaching to the office of decurion, or the privileges granted to persons of this kind, for instance, freedom from corporeal punishment, exemption from removal to other provinces, and numerous others.
But where anything is stated with reference to decurions which does not confer any privilege, it shall also apply to these, and they shall be liable to personal and pecuniary charges, and no law shall exempt them therefrom; they shall enjoy no honors, but must remain in the baseness of their condition to which they are devoted.
These are the provisions which We have enacted on this subject.
You have also mentioned another matter which is worthy of inquiry. We have forbidden heretics to testify whenever orthodox persons are engaged in litigation with one another, and We have permitted them by Our Constitution, whenever they have any legal controversies with one another, or either the plaintiff or the defendant is an heretic, he can testify, because they are litigants; and they can give testimony for an orthodox person against a heretic, but not against one who is orthodox; and, in conclusion, We have prescribed that the evidence of such persons is not admissible when orthodox believers are engaged in legal disputes with one another.
You have stated to Us that when orthodox persons desire to be released from curial obligations, the testimony of their relatives and others familiar with their condition may be received. As the law rejects the evidence of heretics when offered against orthodox Christians, the judges hesitate to permit it under such circumstances. We, however, think that this apprehension is unfounded, for as such persons are permitted to testify in behalf of orthodox believers (for the law does not forbid them to do this), then, where decurions desire to be released from their public obligations, and call heretics to testify in their behalf, why should not this be permitted? In this instance the orthodox government which God has especially entrusted to Our administration is one of the litigants, those, however, who give evidence for the government, in reality testify for orthodox persons. Our conclusion is just, it is consistent with the orthodox faith, and is based upon the hatred which We entertain for all heresies.
As soon as Your Highness is informed of Our wishes, being aware of what is beneficial to Our government, and, above all, remembering that We have been careful to prescribe by the present constitution what is advantageous to the public welfare, will see that it is observed.
Given at Constantinople, on the fifteenth of the Kalends of September, after the Consulate of Belisarius.” (Authentic Or New Constitutions Of Our Lord The Most Holy Emperor Justinian, Fourth Collection, Title 24,45th New Constitution)
“To John, Most Glorious Pratorian Prefect of the East, twice Consul and Patrician.
We are convinced that Our sole hope of the permanency of the Empire during Our reign depends upon the favor of God, for We know that that hope is the source of the safety of the soul, and the preservation of the government. Wherefore Our laws should be based upon it, and constantly take it into consideration, for it is their beginning, middle, and end. Everyone is aware that those who have ruled before Us, and especially Leo, of pious memory, and Justin, Our Father, of pious memory, in their constitutions, forbade all heretics to have any share in public employments or offices, in order that they might not have an opportunity to make use of them against the Holy and Apostolic Church of God. We, also, have forbidden this, strengthening it in every way by the authority of Our Constitution. Our predecessors deemed as heretics, and We also designate as such those who are the members of different heterodox sects, and among the latter We include persons who adopt the insane Hebrew doctrines of Nestorius the Eutychian, the Acephali, who endorse the evil dogmas of Dioscorus and Severus; those who renew the impiety of Manichseus and Apollinaris; as well as all such as are not affiliated with the Catholic and Apostolic Church of God, in which the most holy bishops, the patriarchs of the entire earth, of Italy, of Rome and of this Royal City, of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, along with all the holy bishops subject to their authority, preach the true faith and ecclesiastical tradition.
Hence We very properly call persons heretics who do not receive the holy sacraments from the reverend bishops in the Catholic Church; for although they may give themselves the name of Christians, still they are separated from the belief and communion of Christians, even when they acknowledge that they are subject to the judgment of God.
Therefore the provisions enacted with reference to heretics are well known to all. But as We desire that persons who embrace and defend the orthodox faith shall have greater privileges than those who hold themselves aloof from the flock of God (as it is not just for heretics to enjoy the same advantages as the orthodox), We now address Ourselves to the present law. For as We have granted the privilege of the dowry to women, in order that they may be preferred to prior creditors, and that their claim shall be first in order and not liable to be barred by prescription, nor be pleaded with reference to ante-nuptial donations, according to the times for which they were made, We now, by this Imperial Law, decree that this privilege, tacit hypothecation, and all other rights which were granted by Our laws to women to enjoy and make use of, shall be conceded to those alone who profess Our adorable faith (We mean that of the Catholic and Apostolic Church), and who participate in its salutary communion.
We also absolutely forbid women who are separated from the Holy Catholic Church, and are unwilling to receive the Holy Communion from the hands of priests, beloved of God, to enjoy such privileges. For if they renounce the favors of God, and absent themselves from the Holy Communion, there is all the more reason why they should not enjoy them, and that We should not permit them to participate in the benefits of Our laws; hence they are declared incapable of doing so, and shall be deprived of all the advantages of Our Constitution.
Women, however, who embrace a better doctrine and acknowledge the true faith, shall be permitted to share in the above-mentioned benefits.
These provisions must be observed throughout the entire Roman Empire, and their execution shall generally be promoted by the bishops and ecclesiastics beloved of God, by Our magistrates and superior and inferior judges, as well as by Your Highness, to whom they are addressed. Hence judges, before whom cases are brought against women, or by women who desire to avail themselves of any privileges, shall conform to the spirit of this law; and if it should be ascertained that the said women do not profess the orthodox faith, or receive the adorable communion in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, at the hands of the reverend clergy, they shall not be permitted to enjoy the privileges conferred by Our Constitution.
Therefore Your Highness, as soon as you have been advised of what it has pleased Us to promulgate by means of this law, will take measures to have it applied to all cases brought before you, and render it operative and effective; publishing it by means of solemn edicts and precepts, so that it may be brought to the knowledge of all, and that Our subjects in this Most Fortunate City, as well as in the provinces, may become aware of how great Our solicitude is for the preservation of the faith of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the welfare of the people of the Empire.
Given at Constantinople, on the second of the Kalends of May, during the fourteenth year of the reign of Our Lord the Emperor Justinian, and the Consulate of Basil.” (Authentic Or New Constitutions Of Our Lord The Most Holy Emperor Justinian, Eighth Collection, Title 10,109th New Constitution)
“Where either of the aforesaid parents, being orthodox, is convinced that his son, or his children, do not acknowledge the Catholic faith, and do not commune in the Church where all the patriarchs together teach the true religion, and spread the doctrine of the four holy Councils of Nicea, Constantinople, the first Council of Ephesus, and that of Chalcedon; he or she will be especially permitted to denounce them as ungrateful on this ground and to disinherit them by will, for We place heresy among acts of ingratitude. But with a view to the general welfare of Catholic children, We direct that, while preserving the force of laws already enacted with reference to other heretics, for instance, the Nestorians, and the Acephali, when their parents are known to have embraced the insane Hebrew tenets of Nestorius, or the mad doctrines of the Acephali, and have, for this reason, withdrawn from the communion of the Catholic Church, they shall not be allowed to appoint any other heirs than their orthodox children, who are members of the Catholic communion, or where there are no children, their agnates and cognates who also are Catholics.
If there should be some orthodox children who are members of the Catholic Church, and there are others who, at the same time, are separated from it, We decree that the entire estates of the parents shall pass to those of their children who are Catholics, even though the said parents may, contrary to the tenor of this Constitution, have made testamentary dispositions in favor of heretical persons. But where the children separated from the Church subsequently enter its bosom, that portion of their father's estate to which they were entitled shall be transferred to them in the condition in which it was found to exist at the time of its delivery, in order that the Catholics who formerly had possession of it may experience no anxiety nor deprivation with reference to any profits which they may have acquired, or concerning their administration of said property during the intermediate time, for as We prohibit the alienation of anything which the Catholic heirs held as representatives of their brothers who were not Catholics, so We do not permit the restitution of any income from the said property, under any circumstances, to be exacted from those who have had possession of it, or that their management of the same shall be investigated.
If the heretical children persist in the same error to the end of their lives, without becoming members of the Church, We order that the Catholic brothers, or the heirs of the latter, shall acquire complete ownership of this property. But where all the children are perverse, and are separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, and it is proved that there are agnates or cognates who are members of the said Church, they shall be preferred to the heretical children, and shall be entitled to the estate of the deceased; and where the children and the 'nearest agnates and cognates are strangers to the orthodox religion, and the deceased parents have, during their lifetime, belonged to the order of the priesthood, We desire that their estates should be transferred to the town in which they had their domicile; and if the ecclesiastics should neglect to claim them for a year, the ownership of the same shall pass to the Treasury. Where, on the other hand, the parents are members of the laity, We order that their property, without any distinction, shall also be united to Our private domain.
These rules shall be observed even where the parents have died intestate, and all the regulations included in other constitutions against heretics, Nestorians, Acephali, and other persons who are not communicants of the Catholic Church (in which the patriarchs proclaim the doctrine of the four Councils hereinbefore mentioned), and which relate to their successions, shall also be observed; for as We are considering corporeal matters, how much more reason is there for Us to pay attention to the salvation of souls?
Therefore, whether parents have mentioned in their wills all the acts of ingratitude above stated, or whether they have only mentioned some of them, or even one alone, no matter which it may be, and the appointed heirs prove that the said act or acts are true, We direct that the will shall remain in full force. But where the acts of ingratitude are not established, the rights of the disinherited children cannot be prejudiced, the will shall be declared void, so far as it relates to the appointment of heirs, and the children shall obtain the estate in equal shares on the ground of intestacy. We establish this rule in order that children may not be condemned through false accusations, or may not, through fraud, be deprived of the estates of their parents. If, however, any legacies or trusts, grants of freedom, or appointments of guardians should be left in wills declared void under such circumstances, or where any other testamentary dispositions authorized by the laws are inserted in a will, We order that all shall take effect, that the legacies shall be acquired by those to whom they have been bequeathed, and that the will shall be just as valid, so far as these matters are concerned, as if it had never been annulled.
Such are the rules which We prescribe with reference to the wills of parents.” (Authentic Or New Constitutions Of Our Lord The Most Holy Emperor Justinian, Eighth Collection, Title 16:3:14, 115th New Constitution)
“We desire that everything which We have enacted with reference to intestate successions shall be applicable to those who acknowledge the Catholic faith, for We order that the laws already promulgated by Us with reference to heretics shall continue to be valid, and We make no innovation or change in them by the introduction of the present enactment. Therefore, We wish this constitution always to be observed in those cases which have arisen since the beginning of the month of July of the present sixth indiction, or in any which may arise hereafter. For We order that all cases which have arisen previous to that time shall be decided in conformity with the ancient laws…
Given in the New Palace, on the seventh of the Kalends of August, during the eighteenth year of the reign of Our Lord the Emperor Justinian, and the third after the Consulate of Basil.” (Authentic Or New Constitutions Of Our Lord The Most Holy Emperor Justinian, Ninth Collection, Title 1:6, 118th New Constitution)
“We order that no heretic shall acquire any immovable property from a church or any other religious establishment whatsoever, either by lease, emphyteusis, purchase, or in any other way; and when a heretic is paid anything in a contract of this kind, he shall lose it, and the immovable property that he received shall be recovered by the religious establishment which transferred it; and the superintendent of said establishment shall be deprived of his office, confined in a monastery, and excluded from the holy communion for an entire year, by way of punishing him for having betrayed Christians to heretics. Where an orthodox person is in possession of property on which a church is situated, and alienates, bequeaths, leases it under emphyteusis or in any other way, or entrusts the management of the same to a Jew, a Samaritan, an Arian, or any other heretic, the said property shall be claimed by the church of the neighborhood, and where a heretic (and among heretics We include Nestorians, Acephali, and Eutychians) builds a house for the celebration of his worship, or a new Jewish synagogue, the most holy church of the diocese shall seize the building.
If anyone should transfer land to a heretic under emphyteusis or any other form of lease, or entrust the management of the same to him in any other way, he being well aware that the person to whom he delivers it is a heretic, all the income collected therefrom under the contract shall be claimed for the benefit of the church of the city within whose territory the land in question is situated; but when the owner of the same is ignorant that he to whom he gave possession is a heretic, he shall not be deprived of it on account of his ignorance; but in either event the heretic must be driven from the land, and his property confiscated for the Treasury.” (Authentic Or New Constitutions Of Our Lord The Most Holy Emperor Justinian, Ninth Collection, Title 14:14, 131st New Constitution)
“To the Bishop of Constantinople.
We believe that the true and immaculate Christian faith is the first and greatest benefit that men enjoy, that it should be strengthened in every respect, and that all the holy priests throughout the earth should unite to preach it, and should extirpate every kind of false doctrine, as is prescribed by Our laws and Our edicts. But as heretics are not influenced by the fear of God, and pay no attention to the penalties with which they are menaced by the severity of the law, as they accomplish the work of the devil, and by seduction debauch certain weak men, causing them to renounce the Holy Catholic Faith and the Apostolic Church; and as they hold wicked assemblies in secret, and clandestinely confer spurious baptisms, We have concluded that it is the part of piety to warn such persons by this, Our present edict, to abandon their insane delusions, to cease to destroy the souls of weak-minded men, to return to the Holy Church of God, where true dogmas are preached, and where all heresies with their heads are anathematized.
Heretics are hereby notified that if, in the future, any of them should be detected in attending prohibited assemblies, or of holding them in their houses, so far from tolerating this, We shall transfer to the Holy Church the buildings in which such offences are committed, and shall inflict upon the delinquents the penalties imposed by Our Constitutions.
Given at Constantinople, on the day before the Nones of April, during the reign of Our Lord the Emperor Justinian, and the Consulate of Basil.” (Authentic Or New Constitutions Of Our Lord The Most Holy Emperor Justinian, Ninth Collection, Title 15, 132nd New Constitution)
“To Diomedes, Praetorian Prefect.
…Hence, We prohibit them from becoming heirs, either by will or in case of intestacy, from receiving legacies, or from acquiring anything by way of donation. Neither the Samaritans, nor heretics in general, nor those who pretend to profess the true faith of Christians, without actually believing in it, and observing its rules, shall be entitled to any succession to which they may be called ab intestato; nor can they execute a will, make a donation, or bequeath a legacy; unless those who are entitled to receive them have embraced the true religion, and have manifested their faith by their works; for where none of them are persons of this kind, We order that, after their death, their property shall belong to the Imperial Treasury. Wherefore the rule which Our Father established through indulgence for the Samaritans, and which, having the force of law, gave them the privilege of accepting and transmitting estates, as well as the right to receive and bequeath legacies, shall hereafter be void and have no force whatsoever.
If those who adopt the insane belief of the Samaritans should show themselves to be unworthy of the benefit of this constitution, they can blame no one but themselves, since they have rejected the benevolence of God and Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and they shall forfeit the privileges formerly granted to them by Imperial Majesty, for the purpose of inducing them to entertain a better frame of mind, and to prevent their perpetual adherence to this perverse doctrine.” (Authentic Or New Constitutions Of Our Lord The Most Holy Emperor Justinian, Ninth Collection, Title 27,144th New Constitution)
Procopius Of Caesarea (6th Century)
“Moreover, while he* was encouraging civil strife and frontier warfare to confound the Romans, with only one thought in his mind, that the earth should run red with human blood and he might acquire more and more booty, he invented a new means of murdering his subjects. Now among the Christians in the entire Roman Empire, there are many with dissenting doctrines, which are called heresies by the established church: such as those of the Montanists and Sabbatians, and whatever others cause the minds of men to wander from the true path. All of these beliefs he ordered to be abolished, and their place taken by the orthodox dogma: threatening, among the punishments for disobedience, loss of the heretic's right to will property to his children or other relatives.
Now the churches of these so-called heretics especially those belonging to the Arian dissenters, were almost incredibly wealthy. Neither all the Senate put together nor the greatest other unit of the Roman Empire, had anything in property comparable to that of these churches. For their gold and silver treasures, and stores of precious stones, were beyond telling or numbering: they owned mansions and whole villages, land all over the world, and everything else that is counted as wealth among men.
As none of the previous Emperors had molested these churches, many men, even those of the orthodox faith, got their livelihood by working on their estates. But the Emperor Justinian, in confiscating these properties, at the same time took away what for many people had been their only means of earning a living.
Agents were sent everywhere to force whomever they chanced upon to renounce the faith of their fathers. This, which seemed impious to rustic people, caused them to rebel against those who gave them such an order. Thus many perished at the hands of the persecuting faction, and others did away with themselves, foolishly thinking this the holier course of two evils; but most of them by far quitted the land of their fathers, and fled the country. The Montanists, who dwelt in Phrygia, shut themselves up in their churches, set them on fire, and ascended to glory in the flames. And thenceforth the whole Roman Empire was a scene of massacre and flight…Those, indeed, who lived in my own Caesarea and in the other cities, deciding it silly to suffer harsh treatment over a ridiculous trifle of dogma, took the name of Christians in exchange for the one they had borne before, by which precaution they were able to avoid the perils of the new law. The most reputable and better class of these citizens, once they had adopted this religion, decided to remain faithful to it; the majority, however, as if in spite for having not voluntarily, but by the compulsion of law, abandoned the belief of their fathers, soon slipped away into the Manichean sect and what is known as polytheism.
The country people, however, banded together and determined to take arms against the Emperor: choosing as their candidate for the throne a bandit named Julian, son of Sabarus. And for a time they held their own against the imperial troops; but finally, defeated in battle, were cut down, together with their leader. Ten myriads of men are said to have perished in this engagement, and the most fertile country on earth thus became destitute of farmers. To the Christian owners of these lands, the affair brought great hardship: for while their profits from these properties were annihilated, they had to pay heavy annual taxes on them to the Emperor for the rest of their lives, and secured no remission of this burden…Consequently there was a constant stream of emigration not only to the land of the barbarians but to places farthest remote from the Romans; and in every country and city one could see crowds of foreigners. For in order to escape persecution, each would lightly exchange his native land for another, as if his own country had been taken by an enemy.” (The Secret History, 11)
* Emperor Justinian I
Cosmas Indicopleustes (6th Century)
“The Pagans do not believe and are without hope, being in love with the wisdom of this world, which has not the power of itself to take hold of even one of the things, unless a divine illumination should follow. In like manner also the Jews, not believing in Christ, when He appeared and openly proclaimed these things, and confirmed them both by Himself and by His Apostles, have incurred the loss of all these things. The Samaritans again, and the Montanists, being more stiff-necked than the Jews, when they could not be taught by Moses and the figures of the world, and did not believe even the prophets, confessing neither angel, nor spirit, nor the immortality of the rational soul, but denying the same doctrines as the Pagans, even the resurrection of the body, suffer the loss of all these things.” (Christian Topography, 5)
John Of Ephesus (c.505-c.585)
“Returning to ecclesiastical matters, our historian informs us, that the rebuke of the patriarch, though ineffectual in preventing attempts at persecution, was not lost upon the king. For, in the midst of his difficulties and anxieties, from the wars which surrounded him on all sides, turbulent men, having no zeal for the faith, and using it only as a pretext for greedily plotting after the spoil of the house's and property of their neighbours, craftily endeavoured to get permission and authority to carry out their purpose, and never ceased wearying the ears of the king and patriarch with their constant calumnies, which, though not confined to them, were especially directed against those who found a stumblingblock in the council of Chalcedon. They complained therefore, saying, 'These men gather in large meetings, and celebrate the communion and baptism in greater numbers than the catholic church, even if you add to it all the heresies of Arians, and Samosatenians, and Tetradites, and Montanists, and Marcionites, and the like: and they disturb and upset the whole church. Give us therefore authority to arrest and imprison them, and put them to the torture, and root out all their meeting houses.' But the patriarch, being a gentle and merciful man, and who knew their cunning, and that their zeal was only for rapine and plunder, rebuked them, saying, 'If your zeal were upright in these things which you so press upon us, or if your purpose were the correction of these people, we should commend it: but as we know that your real object is to plunder and steal the goods of others, go and be quiet: for we will not permit any persecution to take place in our days, but to the best of our power will teach and admonish them.' And as these persons consisted not merely of clergymen, but also of laymen, some of whom were unsound in their Christianity —physicians, for instance, and heathens—who, besides their greediness for plunder, wished to make a demonstration also of their Christianity by professing zeal for the Christian faith, when they saw that the bishop would not submit to their cunning, they did not hesitate to din the ears of the merciful king himself, as some of them had access to him by being the royal physicians. But the king, as one whose whole conversation and all his thoughts were wrapped in the wars with the barbarians, would not even so much as listen to them, saying, 'Because we have not enough to do with the wars with the barbarians on all our confines, you want to bring upon us intestine wars also!' And thus their violence was restrained, and their projects were rebuffed and brought to nought.” (Ecclesiastical History, 3:5:21)
Gregory The Great (c.540-604)
“And indeed we have learnt from the ancient institution of the Fathers that whosoever among heretics are baptized in the name of the Trinity, when they return to holy Church, may be recalled to the bosom of mother Church either by unction of chrism, or by imposition of hands, or by profession of the faith only. Hence the West reconciles Arians to the holy Catholic Church by imposition of hands, but the East by the unction of holy chrism. But Monophysites and others are received by a true confession only, because holy baptism, which they have received among heretics, then acquires in them the power of cleansing, when either the former receive the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands, or the latter are united to the bowels of the holy and universal Church by reason of their confession of the true faith. Those heretics, however, who are not baptized in the name of the Trinity, such as the Bonosiaci and the Cataphrygae, because the former do not believe in Christ the Lord, and the latter with a perverse understanding believe a certain bad man, Montanus, to be the Holy Spirit, like unto whom are many others; — these, when they come to holy Church, are baptized, because what they received while in their error, not being in the name of the Holy Trinity, was not baptism. Nor can this be called an iteration of baptism, which, as has been said, had not been given in the name of the Trinity. But the Nestorians, since they are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity — though darkened by the error of their heresy in that, after the manner of Jewish unbelief, they believe not the Incarnation of the Only-begotten — when they come to the Holy Catholic Church, are to be taught, by firm holding and profession of the true faith, to believe in one and the same Son of God and man, our Lord God Jesus Christ, the same existing in Divinity before the ages, and the same made man in the end of the ages, because The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).” (Register Of Epistle, Book 11, Letter 67, To Quiricus)
Isidore of Seville (c.560-636)
“Antoninus Minor ruled for eighteen years. Having advanced to Parthia, he took Seleucia, the city of Assyria, with 400,000 men. He triumphed over the Parthians and the Persians. With him ruling, Montanus, the author of the Cataphrygites and Tatian, from whom came the heresy of the Encratitarites, appeared.” (Chronicon, 78)
John Of Damascus (c.676-c.770)
"The Cataphrygians, or Montanists, or Ascodrugites accept both the Old and New Testaments, but they also introduce other prophets of whom they make much ado about-a certain Montanus and a Priscilla." (The Fount Of Knowledge, On Heresies, 48)
"The Pepuzians, who are also referred to as Quintillians, and with whom the Artotyrites are connected, form a distince heresy. Although they belong to the Cataphrygians, they hold to other teachings which the last do not. They hold Pepuza (a certain town lying between Galatia and Cappadocia and Phrygia) to be sacred. In fact, they claim that it is Jerusalem. There is, though, another Pepuza. Beyond this, they permit women to hold authority and to officiate as priests. They also celebrate certain mysteries during which they will pierce a new-born child with bronze needles, as is the custom of the Cataphrygians. Then, after having mixed flour with its blood, they bake a eucharist host of which they partake as communion. They also tell a mythical story about Christ revealing himself there in Pepuza to Quintilla or Priscilla in the form of a woman. They use both the Old and New Testaments, altering them in conformance with their own ideas." (The Fount Of Knowledge, On Heresies, 49)
Council of Trullo (692)
“But concerning the Paulianists it has been determined by the Catholic Church that they shall by all means be rebaptized. The Eunomeans also, who baptize with one immersion; and the Montanists, who here are called Phrygians; and the Sabellians, who consider the Son to be the same as the Father, and are guilty in certain other grave matters, and all the other heresies — for there are many heretics here, especially those who come from the region of the Galatians — all of their number who are desirous of coming to the Orthodox faith, we receive as Gentiles. And on the first day we make them Christians, on the second Catechumens, then on the third day we exorcise them, at the same time also breathing thrice upon their faces and ears; and thus we initiate them, and we make them spend time in church and hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.” (Canon 95)
Photius of Constantinople (c.810-c.897)
“Read the treatise of
Josephus On the Universe, elsewhere called On the Cause of the
Universe and On the Nature of the Universe...I find a marginal
note to the effect that the work is not by Josephus, but by one Gaius, a
presbyter of Rome, also the author of The Labyrinth, and of a dialogue
against Proclus, the champion of the Montanists…This Gaius is said to have
been a presbyter of the Church at Rome, during the episcopate of Victor and
Zephyrinus, and to have been ordained bishop of the gentiles. He wrote
another special work against the heresy of Artemon, and also composed a
weighty treatise against Proclus, the supporter of Montanus. In this he
reckons only thirteen epistles of
“Read the tractate of Hippolytus, the pupil of Irenaeus, entitled Against the Thirty-two Heresies. It begins with the Dositheans, and goes down to the heresies of Noetus and the Noetians, which he says were refuted by Irenaeus in his lectures, of which the present work is a synopsis.” (Bibliotheca, Codex 121: Hippolytus, Against Heresies)
Agapius Of Menbidj (d. c.941)
“Then there appeared [a man] named Montanus who claimed to be the Paraclete. The Lord Christ, may he be glorified, [he said], sent him into the world; some disciples gathered to follow him, and he set himself to teach a doctrine of impiety and error. Then he was excommunicated and expelled; but he made some proselytes and had some followers who remained attached to him until his death.” (Universal History, Book 2, The History Of Marcion)*
Roger Pearse edition of the Universal History
Michael The Syrian (d. 1199)
“In the land of Phrygia, there is a place called Pepuza where the Montanists had a bishop and clergy; this place they called Jerusalem, and it was at this place that the Montanists killed Christians. John of Asia went there and burned their temple on the order of the Emperor. They found in this building a large marble shrine sealed with lead and tied with iron fittings. On the top of it was written: “Montanus and his women”. They opened it up and there inside was Montanus and his two women, Maximilla and Priscilla, who had plates of gold on the mouth. They were filled with disarray [as to what to do] at seeing the foul bones of the one the Montanists called "the Spirit". They said to the Montanists, "Aren’t you ashamed to be seduced by this shameless one, and call him ‘Spirit’? A spirit does not have flesh and bones.” And then they burned the bones. At this the Montanists were heard groaning and crying and said to them "Now the world is ruined and will perish." They also found their shameful books and burned them. The building was purified and turned into a church.
Prior to this happening, in the time of Justinian I (Justin), some people had informed the emperor that Montanus, at the time of his death had ordered his sextons to place him fifty cubits underground, "because,” he said, “the fire that is coming upon the whole face of the earth will devour me [if I am not buried that deep].” His supporters, by the pernicious operation of demons, had been spreading the false rumor that Montanus’ bones could chase demons away; they had bribed a few individuals who, for the bread given to their mouths [as a bribe], said that his bones had healed them. The emperor wrote to the bishop of the place. He dug deep and removed the bones of Montanus and those of his women for burning. So the Montanists came to the bishop during the night and gave him five hundred drams of gold [as a bribe]; they carried away the bones and brought others, and in the morning, without anyone perceiving the mystery, the bishop burned the bones as those of Montanus and Crites his partner. But then the Archdeacon denounced the bishop [after finding out about this] and he was sent into exile.
Apollos, the companion of Paul, wrote that Montanus was the son of Simon the magician and that when his father [Simon the Magician had] died because of the prayer of Peter, he fled from Rome and began to disturb the universe. Then Apollos (pushed) by the Spirit, went to where Montanus was and saw him sitting and preaching error. He began to inveigh against him saying: "O enemy of God, the Lord will punish you!"
Montanus began to rebuke him, and said: "What's there between you and me, Apollos? If you prophesy, so do I; if you're an apostle, so am I; and if you are a doctor, so am I."
Apollos said, "May your mouth be closed, in the name of the Lord!"
He immediately stopped and couldn’t speak at all. The people believed in our Lord and were baptized. They overthrew the see of Montanus who fled and escaped.” (Chronicle, 9:33)
There are many myths circulating around about the Montanists. So, I thought that it would be good to close out this article with a final analysis of some of these.
Myth: There Is No Way To Really Know What The Montanists Believed Because All Of The Writings By The Montanist Leaders Have Been Lost. Most Of What We Know About Them Is Based Upon The Writings Of Their Enemies. More Than Likely Their Beliefs Were Villainized By The Established Church In An Attempt To Misrepresent Them.
Reality: While there is always the potential for one side of a religious debate to villainize the other and it is true that none of the writings of Montanus, Priscilla or Maximilla have survived to the present there is enough material written by the Montanist convert Tertullian, after embracing Montanism, to know what they taught. His writings agree with those of the established church in that they clearly show that he believed that a new era of prophecy (which was superior to the New Testament era) had arrived through the ministry of Montanus1, that those who did not accept the “new prophecy” were on a spiritual level below those who did2, that the gift of prophecy was experienced by being overtaken (possessed) by the “Spirit” rather than the Spirit working in cooperation with mankind’s freewill3, that remarriage after widowhood was adultery4, that Christians should not flee when persecuted5, and the introduction of new fasts6.
1 On The Resurrection Of The Flesh, 63; Against Praxeas, 1; On Fasting In Opposition To The Psychics, 1; On Monogamy, 14
2 Against Praxeas, 1; On Fasting In Opposition To The Psychics, 1; On Monogamy, 1; On Modesty, 1. Tertullian referred to those who did not embrace Montanistic beliefs as “psychics”, meaning “carnal” while those who embraced Montanism he referred to as “spiritualists”.
3 The Five Books Against Marcion, 4:22
4 On Monogamy
5 On Flight In Persecution
6 On Fasting In Opposition To The Psychics
Myth: The Montanists Were A Legitimate Prophetic Movement
Reality: The real test of any prophetic movement is the analysis of its prophetic utterances. The Montanist utterances fail this test for one simple reason.
First, the Montanistic oracles (which claimed to come directly from the Holy Spirit) contradicted the teachings of the New Testament. For example, one Montanist prophecy, recorded by the Montanist Tertullian stated “Seek not to die on bridal beds, nor in miscarriages, nor in soft fevers, but to die the martyr’s death, that He may be glorified who has suffered for you.”1 This utterance encouraged those being persecuted to seek to “die the martyr’s death” and the whole book that it was recorded in was to encourage Christians to not flee when persecuted, but rather to face death. But nowhere in the New Testament are Christians encouraged to seek martyrdom and even Jesus himself told his disciples that “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another (Mt 10:23)”. One must really ask themselves ‘Should I trust Jesus or Montanus?’
Another example involved the issue of widows remarrying. In speaking of remarriage after one’s spouse died Tertullian indicated that “the New Prophecy abrogates second marriage.” and that via a prophetical utterance the Montanists were taught that “you are not to marry when you have lost your husband…he does prejudge you guilty of adultery if, after the death of your husband, you do marry another…”2 But this completely contradicts what the Holy Spirit taught through the Apostle Paul who wrote that “I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully (1Ti 5:14)” and “I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1Co 7:8).”
The early Christians, as they examined Montanism, were really forced to ask themselves will I trust Jesus and Paul or will I trust Montanist? They really had no choice but to reject Montanus because what he taught contradicted the Scriptures.
1 On Flight In Persecution, 9
2 On Monogamy, 13
Myth: The Montanists Were Rejected By The Established Church Because They Embraced The Operation Of Spiritual Gifts Which The Established Church No Longer Believed In
Reality: There is no evidence that the established church, at the time that the Montanists were active, had stopped believing in the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit. To the contrary, Epiphanius, in his refutation of Montanism directly stated that “The holy church of God also receives the charismatic gifts…”1 Asterius Urbanus, in his refutation of the Montanists indicated that “prophesy” had operated in the established church up until his time in “a continuous succession”.2 In like manner Hermas, while discussing the Montanist prophets, indicated to his readers the difference between a true and a false prophet maintaining that God still endowed men with the gift of prophecy.3
The issue was not spiritual gifts (the established church very clearly believed in the continued operation of the miraculous gifts) but in the way that the Montanists experienced these gifts. When Montanus prophesied he experienced “suddenly being seized with a kind of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to speak and to utter strange things, and to prophesy in a manner contrary to the custom of the Church, as handed down from early times and preserved thenceforward in a continuous succession”.4 It was as if Montanus lost (or gave up) complete control of his body to whatever spirit was endowing him with the gift of prophecy. This stands in sharp contrast with Paul’s teaching on the gift of prophesy in which he indicated that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion… (1Cor 14:32-33).” In other words, when a person receives a legitimate prophetic message they are never “seized with a kind of frenzy and ecstasy” which would cause them to “rave”. No prophet in the Old or New Testament prophesied that way. Rather, that is the way that spiritualistic mediums who have opened themselves up to demons prophesy. Epiphanius was clear that the reason the Montanists were rejected did not have anything to do with the operation of spiritual gifts but rather “their controversial behavior”.5
1 Medicine Chest, 48:1
2 Fragment in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:16
3 Shepherd Of Hermas, Book 2, Commandment 11
4 Fragment in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, 5:16
5 Medicine Chest, Heresy 48:1
Some Observations On Those Promoting Montanism In Our Times
As I have sat back and considered how some modern teachers are promoting and encouraging other Christians to embrace Montanism a few interesting points were brought to my attention by the Lord.
Ø The original Montanists encouraged their followers to seek martyrdom. Montanus himself stated “Seek not to die on bridal beds, nor in miscarriages, nor in soft fevers, but to die the martyr’s death, that He may be glorified who has suffered for you.”1 However, not one of the modern day supporters of Montanism, that I am aware of, is seeking martyrdom. Why not? They say that the original Montanists were a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. If so, why are they not obeying his command to seek martyrdom?
Ø The original Montanists taught that remarriage after widowhood was adultery and would cause a person to go to hell. However, not one of the modern day supporters of Montanism, that I am aware of, is actively taking a stand against the rampant divorce and remarriage going on in the church, let alone trying to keep widows from remarrying. Why not? They say that the original Montanists were a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. If so, why are they not obeying his command for people to only have one wife throughout their whole life?
These things really do not make sense, as if one really believed that Montanism was a legitimate move of the Holy Spirit why would they promote it but yet not obey it? Something is just not right about the modern movement that is attempting to justify Montanism as a legitimate move of the Holy Spirit.
1 In Tertullian’s On Flight In Persecution, 9
The majority of this website was created by performing a computerized search of patristic texts to look for Montanist-related keywords. It is hoped that this will show the value of using computer technology to study Patristics. For more information on the Montanists there are many books and articles available in a variety of languages, although, as with any subject, reading the primary sources (the majority of which are provided here in English) is the best way to learn about something. Feedback is encouraged. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!