The Confrontation Between Orthodoxy and Heresy: General Characteristics and Operating Procedures

Translated by David Steinmetz

The essential object of our investigation and presentation in the preceding chapters has been the approximately one hundred years that follow the conclusion of the apostolic age. In those chapters, the arrangement of the material has, for the most part, followed geographical lines. There still remains the additional task of determining what there is in the association between true and false belief and in its manifestations that is not neccssarily bound to one location, but has a more general validity -- even if, naturally enough, it appears many times in our sources in connection with definite personalities and places. When, for example, in the following passage Eusebius describes the effectiveness of Theophilus of Antioch, as one church leader among others,1 one notices no particularly Syrian coloration nor any marked peculiarity characterizing the bishop who is mentioned by name:

Since the heretics, no less at that time, were like tares despoiling the pure seed of apostolic teaching, the shepherds of the churches everywhere, as though frightening away wild beasts from Christ's sheep, sought to hold them back, so that at one time they would resort to persuasion and exhortations to the brethren, at another they would oppose them openly and, partly through oral discussions [135] and refutations, partly through written efforts, expose their opinions as false by means of the most solid demonstrations (EH 4.24).

To a certain extent we perceive in this quotation the viewpoint of a fourth-century churchman. For him the churches are folds in which the shepherd guards and protects the sheep. The heretics roam about outside like wolves, intent on gaining prey. But the carefully planned measures taken by the "shepherds" have made that very difficult for the heretics. Nevertheless, according to everything we have ascertained, the situation in the second century simply was not that way. It was by no means the rule at that time that heretics were located "outside." It is, however, completely credible that already at that time the leaders of the orthodox were using the tactics mentioned by Eusebius, so as to safeguard their own people against contagion. But we must quickly add that the party opposing the orthodox worked in the same way and with corresponding goals. That the exhortations and repeated warnings were directed against the false belief of the opposing party is too self-evident to require special examples. Already in the second century we hear of direct discussions between the representatives of ecclesiastical Christianity and their opponents, and can easily find the bridge to an even earlier period.2 The letter of Ignatius to the Philadelphians (chapters 5-8) allows us to take a look at the clash of opinions within the company of Christians at the beginning of the second century, when there is no clearly defined community boundary between opposing circles, but when all the baptized still remain, at least externally, bound together as a unity. There is debate pro and con over the right and wrong of this opinion and that. The opponents of Ignatius are preaching "Judaism," with reference to their use of scripture (6.1). Ignatius, who sees in this an apostasy from the gospel, even if his opponents wish to remain in the Christian community (7), declares to be impossible every understanding of scripture that finds in the "charters" [[132]] something other than that which, according to his view, stands in the "gospel" (8.2) -- a teaching that rests on such a basis is a delusion. Apparently no agreement was reached on this issue; each party retained its own point of view.

The religious discussion that brought about the split in Rome between Marcion and orthodoxy was of a special sort. [136] At least at the outset, it was not thought of as a struggle for the souls of Roman Christians fought from already well established positions, but as an effort to ascertain what the true meaning and content of the Christian religion really is, and to that extent it was somewhat comparable to the apostolic council (Acts 15). After the orthodox and the Marcionites had separated from each other, to be sure, discussions aimed at persuading others of the truth of one's own faith also took place. So we hear from the anti-Marcionite, Rhodon (see above, 108), that the aged disciple of Marcion, Apelles, started up a discussion with him, but that Apelles was convicted of many errors and crushingly defeated.3 Presumably, Apelles considered himself to be the victor. We do not feel called to act as arbitrator, but we simply have learned to recognize here one of the ways employed by each combatant to establish and disseminate his own position.

The Montanist movement also produced polemical discussions. Indeed, on this topic we are in a position to gain a colorful picture of the struggle between different tendencies in Christianity -- even though this struggle is not consummated in actual debates -- by the fortunate circumstance that Eusebius has preserved extensive fragments from the works of two anti- Montanists from the ninth decade of the second century. The first is an anonymous writer (EH 5.16-17) and the second, Apollonius of Asia Minor (EH 5.18). Of course, each heresy is open to attack in special areas unique to itself, while it, in turn, finds fault with a particular feature of the "church" -- thus the Montanists differ from gnosis, and Marcion is not the same as the Jewish Christians -- with the result that there are, within certain limits, differences in the respective polemic and apologetic approaches. And yet there are many aspects that do not resist the characterization of being generally valid, especially those that concern the external course of the controversies. But in dealing with this material, the pattern [[133]] exhibited in polemical literature must be taken into consideration in order to distinguish correctly between reality and appearance.4

The anonymous author begins his writing with the explanation that he had [137] first argued against the Montanists orally and refuted them (EH 5.16.2), but in spite of requests directed to him, he decided not to enter into literary combat with them. Then a visit to Ancyra in Galatia recently induced him to alter his decision. There he found the church completely deafened by the "new prophecy," which might more correctly be called false prophecy. He had first repulsed his opponents in discussions that lasted several days and went into every particular, and then he confirmed the church in the truth and filled it with joy. Nevertheless, since he himself had not been completely convinced of the permanence of his success,5 he had promised to send the presbyters,6 at their request, a written recapitulation of his expositions. The treatise that he composed for this purpose elaborates upon the origin of the new movement in the unmistakable style of an ecclesiastical polemic against heretics. Montanus, so we learn, in his boundless desire for preeminence,7 allows the adversary to enter into him, whereupon he falls into a satanic ecstasy and begins suddenly to utter peculiar things that are not compatible with the tradition passed on in the church from the very beginning (EH 5.16.7). Some people are repelled by him; others are won over -- and he delights the latter with his great promises and fills them with pride, but occasionally he also reproves them in order to show that he could also make demands (EH 5.16.8-9).

We have no reason to agree with the anonymous ecclesiastical author when he claims that the moral demands laid down by Montanus were a pretence. Tertullian shows us how seriously this teaching was taken by the Montanists. And when "the anonymous" claims that the "new prophecy" led only a few Phrygians astray (EH 5.16.9), we are inclined to believe him just as little -- precisely on the basis [[134]] of what he himself reports. On the contrary, one has the impression that the "new prophecy" must have gained a strong hold in its native land. When "the anonymous," with unmistakable aim and purpose, continues immediately with an account of how the faithful came together "frequently" (pollakis) and "in many places" (pollach) in order to investigate the Montanist teaching, which they then [138] branded as heresy and forbade its adherents to remain in the ecclesiastical community (EH 5.16.10), he is no longer speaking of Phrygia or of Ancyra in Galatia, but of Asia, and he shows that even there, where ecclesiastically oriented orthodoxy had sunk stronger and deeper roots, the danger was not minor (see also below, 135). Eusebius passes over the detailed refutation of the error, which the first part of the treatise is supposed to have offered next, in order to turn his attention to the second part. This second part, in the style of presentations de mortibus persecutorum [on the death of persecutors], discoursed de mortibus haeresiarcharum [on the death of heretical leaders], and indeed, in a form that clearly betrays that the particular details have been derived from the gossip of the "right-minded," and have no historical value of any kind. A widely disseminated rumor reports that Montanus and his assistant, Maximilla, driven by a deceiving spirit, had hanged themselves, each acting independently and under different circumstances (EH 5.16.13). In the same way, "a frequent report" (polus logos) asserted of Theodotus, another originator of the false prophecy, that he had wanted to ascend to heaven in reliance on the deceitful spirit and had thereby perished in a wretched manner (EH 5.16.14). Just as in the former instance "the anonymous" is reminded of the end of the traitor Judas (EH 5.16.13), so may we, with respect to Theodotus, think of the legend of the death of Simon Magus. The author concludes the descriptions of the demise of the heretics with the words: "At any rate, that is how it is supposed to have happened. But not having seen it ourselves, we do not claim to know anything for sure about it. . . . Perhaps Montanus and Theodotus and the above mentioned woman died in this way, but perhaps they did not" (EH 5.16.14b-15). This section is important chiefly because it permits us to evaluate correctly a considerable portion of the ever recurring polemical material, especially to the extent that this material relates to the person and life of the men who stand in an exposed place within a religious movement. [[135]] Indeed, one can scarcely handle the maxim semper aliquid haeret ["something always sticks" (when mud is being thrown about)] more cynically than does this ecclesiastical protagonist, who really does not himself believe the truth of the rumors that he repeats. As we shall see, Apollonius, his comrade at arms, is in no way inferior to him in the defamation of opponents.

First of all, however, let us examine further the report of Eusebius about the work of "the anonymous," which, as we now learn, [139] also incorporates references to Montanist literature.8 Venerable bishops and other approved men -- the names of Zotikos from the village of Cumana9 and Julian of Apamea are dropped in passing -- try to "refute" the spirit of error in Maximilla, but are "prevented" by her followers, among whom Themiso especially distinguishes himself.10 The account of the incident is not wholly clear. An intellectual exchange with a woman who pours herself forth in an ecstatic frenzy is, indeed, not really thinkable, and a "refutation" in that sense hardly possible. It seems that the Montanists have prevented the representatives of orthodoxy from disturbing the sacred event at all with their profane words, or perhaps they called a halt to an attempt from the orthodox side to drive the evil spirit out of the prophetess (see below, 143). But be that as it may, the defeat of the churchman is unmistakable, and the scene that takes place in Phrygia (Apollonius even tells us the name of the place -- Pepuza; EH 5.18.13) shows anew how little truth there is to the assertion that only a few Phrygians were ensnared in the false illusion of Montanism (see above, 133 f.).

After Eusebius has even given an example of how "the anonymous," still in the second book, unmasked the prophecies of Maximilla as false (EH 5.16.18-19), he moves quickly to the third book, from which he reproduces the rebuttal of the attempt to argue from the large number of Montanist martyrs that the divine power of the living prophetic spirit resides in Montanism (EH 5.16.20-22). He [[136]] does not contest the initial claim, but rejects the conclusion which other heretics as welI (as, for example, the Marcionites) could draw to their own advantage. That an ecclesiastical blood-witness never recognizes a false believer as a fellow believer is demonstrated by a reference to a story of martyrdom from the very recent past.11

Eusebius cites additional material from the work of this unknown opponent of the Montanists in EH 5.17. "The anonymous" relies here on the [140] work of his coreligionist, Miltiades, in which the latter argues that a genuine prophet ought not speak in ecstasy. To be sure, "the anonymous" seems to know the polemical treatise of Miltiades only from a Montanist reply to it, from which he made an abridgement of what concerned him (EH 5.17.1). According to this material, Miltiades -- for obviously he is the speaker in the passage from "the anonymous" (EH 5.17.2-4) -- objected against the Montanists that their kind of inspired speech could not possibly be of divine origin, because in the whole range of the old and of the new covenant, no prophet can be named whom the spirit seized in a similar way in an ecstatic frenzy. Old Testament prophets are not adduced. But the figures of Agabus, Judas, Silas, and the daughters of Philip, familiar from Acts (11.28, 15.32, 21.9 f.), appear, and this series is continued without a break into a later period12 with the names of Ammia in Philadelphia and of Quadratus (EH 5.17.3). The subsequent section shows that the last two served the Montanists in the capacity of "elders" (see above, 119) for the purpose of bridging the gap between apostolic times and the appearance of Montanus (EH 5.17.4). The churchman Miltiades lets that pass, but he expresses the conviction that the prophetic chain had been decisively broken for Montanus and his women, the last of whom, Maximilla, had died fourteen years previously. Since "the Apostle"13 guarantees [[137]] that the charismatic gift of prophecy would remain in the entire church until the Lord's return, what Montanism exhibits by way of that sort of phenomena cannot be acknowledged as a genuine gift of God.

To a still greater degree than "the anonymous," the somewhat younger Apollonius marshalls everything in order to make his opponents appear contemptible. He is not only intent on branding their prophecies collectively as lies, but he also wants to expose the life story of the sect's leaders in [141] all its wretchedness (EH 5.18.1). "But his works and teachings show who this recent teacher is," he cries triumphantly. When it is asked what is so detestable in Montanus' teaching, we hear only the following: (1) He taught the dissolution of marriage -- thus, if it ever occurred in this exaggerated form, he did something that the Christian notes with a high degree of edification as long as it confronts him as a result of the apostolic preaching in the apocryphal Acts literature. Furthermore, (2) Montanus issued laws about fasting and (3) he called two small Phrygian cities, Pepuza and Tymion, by the name "Jerusalem," in order thereby to make them the center of his community, which was gathered from every direction. It relates more to the life of Montanus than to his teachings when he appoints money collectors who, under the pretense of collecting an offering, cleverly organize the receipt of gifts and thus procure for Montanus the financial means to reimburse those who carry the Montanist message, "in order that its teaching might be established through gluttony" (EH 5.17.2). Thus, like the matter of the dissolution of marriages mentioned above, something is condemned with language that can scarcely be surpassed and is exhibited in an ugly caricature, although when it takes place in the context of orthodoxy, it is worthy of the highest praise (see above, 121- 124). For me, the silence of the older anonymous author indicates that the management of money by Montanus and his adherents cannot have taken the unedifying forms scorned by Apollonius. Another indication is the fact that many times it was precisely the most serious minded people who devoted themselves to the prophetic movement. Obviously, Apollonius' language simply betrays his annoyance at the fact that men and resources have streamed to the leaders of Montanism at such a dangerously high rate (EH 5.17.4b). Thus it proves useful to him that in the forty years since the appearance of Montanus (156/157), [[138]] the malicious gossip of his enemies has greatly enriched the genuine data that is remembered.

Indeed, one cannot take such an attack seriously, when it censures Montanus for issuing laws for fasting, and takes pleasure four lines later in the sarcastic observation that Montanus endows his messengers with goods gained in an underhanded manner14 so that they serve the gospel through gluttony; or when it thinks it fraudulent that the Montanists called Priscilla a virgin, although [142] she really belonged to those women who under the influence of Montanus had left their husbands (EH 5.18.3). Then does the custom of the church in calling certain virgins "widows" (Ignatius Smyr. 13.1) also rest on insolent mendacity? Or what should one say about an attempt to offer scriptural proof that has the presumption to assert that "all scripture" (pasa grafh) forbids a prophet from taking gifts and money (EH 5.18.4)? Even to get a shaky foundation for this assertion, one would have to go to the Didache (11.12). But Apollonius probably is talking in vague generalities, unless he already has in mind a definite interpretation of Matthew 10.9 f. (EH 5.18.7). In any event, pasa grafh is in no way part of the picture. Our author continually takes pleasure in exaggeration. He offers "innumerable proofs" (myrias apodeikseis) that the Montanist prophets take gifts (EH 5.18.11; see below, n. 15).

His pronounced inability to admit anything good about the heretics is even more offensive. "The anonymous" had recognized the fact that there were Montanist martyrdoms, even if he had contested the idea that death as a martyr demonstrates that the faith of the heretic is approved. Apollonius knows only of "so- called" martyrs in the opposing party (see above, n. 14) whom he makes as ridiculous and contemptible as possible. Themiso, whom we know from the writings of "the anonymous" as an especially active and effective advocate of the new trend (see above, 135), appears in Apollonius in a different light (EH 5.18.5) "he is completely entangled in covetousness, and purchased his release from chains with a great sum of money, without bearing the sign of a confessor. Now, instead of being humble, Themiso boasts of himself as a martyr and [[139]] even carries his impudence so far that he writes a kind of catholic epistle in imitation of the Apostle (see above, n. 13), so as to instruct people who have a better faith than he does, to defend his empty teachings, and to direct his blasphemies against the Lord, the apostles, and the holy church.

Themiso by no means stands alone as a pseudo-martyr. But rather than treating the "numerous" others,15 Apollonius wishes to make explicit mention only of the case of Alexander (EH 5.18.6- 9). Alexander had based his claim to the honored name of a martyr on his condemnation in Ephesus by Aemilius Frontinus, who had been the proconsul of Asia at the end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius or at the [143] beginning of the reign of Commodus.16 Apollonius, however, asserts that Alexander was not condemned on account of his Christianity, but rather was condemned as a robber. Nevertheless, he succeeded in deceiving the Ephesian community about the true state of affairs, so that this community procured the release of the "transgressor" (parabaths). But his own home church, which was better informed, rejected him as a robber. In order to corroborate this interpretation, Apollonius appeals twice within the Eusebian excerpt to the public archives of Asia (EH 5.18.6b and 9b), which supposedly gave indisputable information about the crimes of Alexander. Apollonius expects his readers to imagine an Ephesian church that regards Alexander as an honorable man and is willing to make sacrifices for his freedom, in spite of the fact that the judicial authorities of the city are occupied with Alexander because of his numerous crimes and even his home congregation has been aware of the situation for a long time. The sarcastic claim that the prophetess was unaware of the character of her companion in spite of many years of association appears equally artificial. How could anyone who is so in the dark really be a "prophet,"17 and know something about the future? Apollonius' presentation serves to awaken this insight.

In any event, the reference to the Asiatic archives will make no [[140]] impression on anyone who has investigated the situation with respect to similar appeals.18 Furthermore, the older anonymous author not only admits that martyrdom has taken place even among the Montanists, but he even knows a martyr by the name of Alexander from Phrygian Eumenia (EH 5.16.22), whom one may in all probability equate with our Alexander.19 It is also sufficiently attested how strong and how genuine the desire of the Montanists for martyrdom was.20 Even though Apollonius cannot see all this, or has no desire to admit it, he cannot demand that one believe the injurious stories he circulates about his opponents. At best, a single case may once have been reported which is now transformed into an inadmissible generalization. [144] Scornfully he speaks about the relations between the prophetess Priscilla and Alexander, which even he does not attempt to extend from the table to the bed. Thereby Apollonius gives one to understand that Alexander stood in great honor in his circles -- i.e. among people with a very strict and serious view of life. "Many paid him reverence" (proskunousin autw polloi; EH 5.18.6). To be sure, Apollonius sees in Alexander only the false martyr who feasts gluttonously with the prophetess, and concerning whose robberies and other crimes there is no need to speak since the court archives speak loudly enough. Mockingly, he inquires which of the two dispenses the forgiveness of sins to the other -- a matter of great importance for Montanism; does the prophetess remit the robberies of the martyr, or does the martyr forgive the covetousness of the prophetess (EH 5.18.7a)? And Apollonius believes that he has delivered a series of deadly blows with the following questions: "Does a prophet use makeup? Does he dye his eyebrows and eyelids? Does he love ornaments? Does he gamble and play dice? Does he lend money at interest?" (EH 5.18.11).

Furthermore, Apollonius calculates that Montanus embarked on his career forty years earlier with his "feigned" prophecy, without any of it having come true (EH 5.18.12). Since Apollonius plays off the Revelation of John against Montanus (EH 5.18.14), although it is a [[141]] book which also tells what "is about to happen soon" (Rev. 1.1), he appears not to lay such harsh demands on it concerning fulfillment of prophecies. Rather, he finds its credibility demonstrated by means of a story, according to which John raised a dead man in Ephesus "through divine power." Thus John is a bearer of a genuine divine spirit, while the Phrygian prophets only have such at their disposal in their imagination. Besides the book of Revelation, Apollonius also appealed to a gospel story that concerns the risen Christ and reports of him that he commanded the apostles to remain at least twelve years in Jerusalem. The same tradition21 is found in the "Preaching (Kerygma) of Peter," which is even older than Apollonius' story and perhaps gives us a hint as to how what was reported by Apollonius could take on an anti-Montanist thrust. In the Preaching of Peter, the risen Christ, in addition to ordering the disciples not to leave Jerusalem for twelve years (in Clement of Alexandria Strom. 6.[5.]43.3), also gives them the commission to preach to the world "what is about to happen" (ta mellonta) after the designated interval has expired (Strom. 6.[6.]48.1 f.). [145] Thus no concept of the coming things accords with Jesus unless it has its roots in the circle of the apostles and, at the latest, already had been in existence twelve years after the resurrection. Unfortunately, neither with respect to "the anonymous" nor to Apollonius do we hear whether, and if so, how they evaluated the gospel of John and its sayings concerning the paraclete. Nevertheless, Irenaeus apparently already had the anti-Montanists in mind who, in order not to be deceived by this false prophecy, throw the baby out with the bath water by rejecting prophecy altogether, and thereby expressly reject the gospel of John, in which the Lord promised the sending of the paraclete.22

Taken as a whole, both of the books with which we have become acquainted here are hardly anything more than abusive satires. That of Apollonius merits the title to a higher degree than that of "the anonymous." One must reject as biased all of the judgments found in these works, even if they are delivered in the costume of historical narrative, and let the facts speak for themselves. When such a procedure is followed, what is left over? Primarily this (in many cases [[142]] as an unintentional confession): the prophetic movement appears to have caught on strongly, especially in Phrygia, men and funds flowed into it, and the rigorousness of the view of life prevailing among the Montanists caused many of them to become martyrs, whose blood insured an even more magnetic power. The magnitude of the ecclesiastical defense corresponds to, and attests to, the amount of success realized by the movement. This defense produces discussions in which, to say the least, the church does not always emerge victorious. Alongside this there is the literary feud. Its prerequisite was already filled by the fact that Montanism gave rise to a body of literature. Just as the logia of Jesus once had been collected, so now one gathered together the sayings and predictions of the original Montanist prophecy23 and equated them with older revelation (cf. Gaius in EH 6.20.3). Other writings followed: the "catholic epistle" of Themiso, the defense against Miltiades, to say nothing of Proclus (in EH 3.31.4) and Tertullian in the third century. The ecclesiastical perspective found literary representation in the second century through the persons already known to us -- Miltiades, "the anonymous," and [146] Apollonius - - and around the year 200 through the above-mentioned Gaius and through Serapion, who immediately followed him.

To the earliest ecclesiastical warriors on the battlefield belongs Claudius Apollinaris of Hierapolis, who lived in the reign of Marcus Aurelius (EH 4.21). Eusebius, who enumerated his writings already in EH 4.27, again mentions his effectiveness against the Montanists immediately after the section on Apollonius (EH 5.19), which is justified chronologically insofar as Eusebius takes his point of departure from the letter that Serapion of Antioch (190-210) wrote to Caricus and Pontius for the refutation of Montanism. What Eusebius extracts from or tells us about Serapion's letter can be of particular assistance in our attempt to achieve a suitable attitude toward general statements found in the polemical literature. Thus a word about that is in order here. To begin with, Euesbius quotes the following words from the letter of Serapion: "And in order that you may know that the king of this lying association called the new prophecy is detested [[143]] in the whole brotherhood throughout the world, I have sent you the writing24 of the most blessed Claudius Apollinaris, the late bishop of Hierapolis in Asia" (EH 5.19.2). Eusebius further states (EH 5.19.3) that subscriptions by various bishops are found in this letter of Serapion.25 He reproduces two of these subscriptions verbatim, and then continues: "The autograph subscriptions of many other bishops who agree with these are also preserved in the abovementioned writing" (EH 5.19.4). It seems that there is nothing more to be said about them except that they are autografoi -- i.e. that the bishops concerned have placed their names (or marks) at the bottom of the letter in their own writing. That they were all of the same opinion is apparently only a conclusion drawn by Eusebius. Since this conclusion could be the product of an ecclesiastical disposition, it must be tested as to its justification. We have a fixed point of reference in the two subscriptions that are reproduced literally, with which, according to Eusebius, the others are in agreement. Of these two, the second is clearly directed against the Montanists: "Aelius Publius Julius, Bishop of Debeltum,26 a colony of Thrace. As God lives in the heavens, the blessed Sotas of Anchialus [see n. 26] [147] desired to exorcise the demon from Priscilla but the hypocrites would not permit it."27 The other signature, on the other hand, reads simply: "I, Aurelius Quirinius, a martyr, pray for your welfare." In this instance, as with the "many others" (alloi pleiones), it is apparently only from the fact that Serapion (or was it already Apollinaris? see above, n. 25) permitted them to attach their subscriptions that one [[144]] can conclude that they agreed with him in a common anti-Montanist outlook. All but one of them have missed the opportunity for an express confession. And it is perhaps no accident that a martyr maintains neutrality. Even the martyrs of Lyons favored the prophetic movement. Yet even in view of the most favorable interpretation, what weight can a couple of names, which happen to appear in conjunction, carry in support of the sweeping statement that "the whole brotherhood throughout the world detests the new prophets"? On the whole, the witnesses invoked here contradict the above assertion by the paucity of their numbers and the insufficiency of their statements, even if we limit "the world" around the time of Apollinaris to Asia Minor and Thrace, leaving aside Gaul, Rome, and North Africa.

The statement obviously is not based on real experience, but was prompted by the apologetic need to offer proof ex consensu omnium [based on common consensus]. Thus we come to a consideration of the basic issues that fly back and forth, both orally and in written form, in the fight with Montanism. Once again our sources are more communicative with regard to the arguments of the church than with reference to the case of its opponents. The latter probably appealed primarily to the spirit, which has dwelt among favored Christians since the time of the apostles, as it becomes manifest in the words of the prophets and enables men [148] to meet the high requirements laid on them, including martyrdom. That such a spirit is actually still at work follows from the fact that still other forms of charismatic gifts have by no means disappeared from Christianity (EH 5.3.4). Furthermore, the Montanists have appealed to the imminent end of the world and the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem, and have demanded that one obtain these by means of a rigorous life in the spirit in conformity with the instructions of the paraclete. But we know scarcely anything at all about how the Montanists protected their faith against the attacks of the church and sought in turn to refute its preaching in the second century. And Tertullian is much too idiosyncratic a person for us to be able to attribute some sort of general validity to his polemic. Tertullian is only able to teach us that even "the church" has become the object of violent and unjust attacks. From an earlier time, we learn that the Montanists applied to themselves and to their rejection by the church such a saying of the [[145]] Lord as Matthew 23.34, concerning those who murder the prophets, and their victims (EH 5.16.12). Also Paul, the pneumatic, and the paraclete of the fourth gospel are appealed to for assistance.

With respect to this form of false belief, the church first of all had the desire to show that the spirit at work there is a spirit of error. Neither in the sphere of the old nor of the new covenant have prophets behaved the way its servants act (see above, 136). The vessels of this spirit are completely vessels of dishonor; the life and the death of the heretics are equally unedifying, and their moral pretensions are only a show (above, 133f., 136-140). The spirit from hell, which has already seduced Montanus into apostasy (above, 133) could open neither his eyes nor the eyes of a single one of his disciples. They are blind, allow themselves to be duped, and make prophecies that never come true (above, 135 f., 140 f.). Experience teaches us this, as does a comparison with the genuine book of revelation, the Apocalypse, the content of which is beyond suspicion since the seer has demonstrated his godly connections by raising someone from the dead (above, 141). The gospel story also shows that a genuine look into the future is possible only in the circle of the apostles of Jesus (above, 141); thus there is no other alternative but to rely on the authorities of the church. [149] The unbreakable chain of all revelation is forged with the links Lord, apostles, holy church (above, 141). The way in which "history" came to be used in the service of orthodoxy is shown not only by the postcanonical stories about Jesus and the apostles, but also in a rather distressing manner by the way in which one speaks about the outstanding adherents of the new movement, about their life and death, without even excepting their martyrs from such treatment. Defamation of the enemy perhaps plays a greater role in these circles than proof from scripture. Later, when the New Testament was accepted as a collection of scriptural writings, when knowledge of the Old Testament was expanded, and when the anti-heretical use of both was developed to some extent, the situation would become healthier. Then, with the increased production of Christian literature and the ever growing distance from the actual events, the controversy will also become more highly literary. The way is already being paved for that in the period under consideration. It seems that "the anonymous" knew the work of his coreligionist Miltiades only from the reply of their common opponents -- i.e. from [[146]] the literature (see above, 136). And Serapion relied on the work of the already deceased Claudius Apollinaris of Hierapolis. Evidently he was not successful in obtaining other literary works of a similar outlook. Otherwise he certainly would have used them also, in his ambition to demonstrate that aversion to the false prophecy permeated all of Christianity. And Eusebius, who is filled with the same desire, would hardly have withheld that information from his readers. [[end ch7]]


[1] It appears as though Eusebius may have inserted the commonplace presentation of the consecrated activity of "the shepherds" into an already existing list of the writings of Theophilus. If the whole context were formed in this way by Eusebius, he would, indeed, not only regard the book against Marcion that stands at the end of the list as evidence that Theophilus also belongs in the category of these church leaders, but he would similarly regard the writing mentioned at the beginning, against the false belief of Hermogenes. On Eusebius' method of working, see also below, chap. 8, esp. 154 n. 14. [[131]]

[2] Cf. W. Bauer, Der Wortgottesdienst der ltesten Christen (1930), pp. 61 f.

[3] EH 5.13.5-7. Concerning this discussion, see Harnack, Marcion\2, pp. 180 ff. He places it at the end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

[4] On what follows see Zahn Forschungen 5: 3-57 (concerning the chronological problem relating to Montanism); Harnack Geschichte 2 (Chronologie), 1: 363-371.

[5] EH 5.16.4 -- he checks the influence of the opposition "for the moment" (pros to paron).

[6] There is no reference to a bishop (EH 5.16.5). Is there still no bishop in Ancyra around the year 190, or is he on the side of the opposition?

[7] Filoprwteia; cf. 3 John 9 concerning Diotrephes, "who loves preeminence" (o( filoprwteuwn).

[8] It mentions the book of an Asterios Orbanos (= Urbanus), in which the sayings of Montanist prophets have been gathered (EH 5.16.17), and uses, in addition, a Montanist polemical writing against Miltiades (EH 5.17.1). See below, 136.

[9] A Phrygian village -- Harnack, Mission\2, 2: 95 (in the expanded German 4th edition, p. 627).

[10] EH 5.16.16-17. The two words dielegcein (refute) and kwluein (prevent) reappear in the abstract by Eusebius from the report of Apollonius concerning the same matter (EH 5.18.13). See also below, 143 n. 27.

[11] Cf. Neumann, Rmische Staat, p. 68.

[12] On this feature, cf. the open-textured use of the concept "the word of the new covenant of the gospel" (o( ths tou euaggeliou kainhs diaqhkhs logos) by "the anonymous" in EH 5.16.3.

[13] If we take this as refering to Paul (for Eusebius, use of "the Apostle" to refer to Paul is certain in EH 4.29.6, see below, 149 and 177 n. 61; indeed, it is already attested in Ptolemy's letter to Flora 4.5) and to a definite passage in his letters, we are reminded of Eph. 4.11 ff., and perhaps also of 1 Cor. 1.7 f. In the anti-Montanist writing of Apollonius (EH 5.18.5) "the Apostle" admittedly is not Paul, but probably the author of 1 John. Alternatively, "the anonymous" may be thinking of the apocalypticist John, whose work plays a helpful role in the refutation of the Montanists (cf. Rev. 22.6 and 9) according to EH 5.18.14.

[14] See also EH 5.18.7 -- the so-called prophets and martyrs fleece not only the rich, but also the poor, the orphans, and the widows.

[15] "But not to speak of many (pleiontes). . . . We can show the same in the case of many (polloi)..." -- EH 5.18.6 and 10.

[16] Neumann, Rmische Staat, p. 68.

[17] It says "the prophet" (male, o( profhths -- EH 5.18.9\b) although the context speaks of a prophetess; possibly this is because the passage has to do with the concept "prophet."

[18] Cf. the role that archives and public records play, at least since Justin, in defending the details of the life of Jesus; W. Bauer, Das Leben Jesu im Zeitalter der neutestamentlichen Apokryphen (Tbingen: Mohr, 1909; reprint Darmstadt, 1967), pp. 26 f., 59, 195 f., 228, 536 f.

[19] Neumann, Rmische Staat, p. 68 n. 2, and pp. 283 f.

[20] Neumann, Rmische Staat, p. 69.

[21] On this, cf. Bauer, Leben Jesu, pp. 266 f.

[22] Irenaeus AH 3.11.9 (= 11.12). In addition, cf. N. Bonwetsch, Geschichte des Montanismus (Erlangen: Deichert, 1881), pp. 22 ff.

[23] The claim of Hippolytus that there are "countless books" (Ref. 8.19) is more instructive for the language of the polemic than for its factuality. We do know of the collection of Asterios Orbanos (anonymous in EH 5.16.17; see above, 135 n. 8).

[24] The plural grammata refers here, as is often the case, to only one written treatise, as is clearly evident from EH 5.19.4.

[25] Whether they derived from the treatise of Apollinaris, I would not presume to decide.

[26] Both Debeltum and Anchialus (mentioned below) are located on the west bank of the Black Sea.

[27] We recall here what "the anonymous" had told us of Maximilla and of the attempt made by the church in Phrygia to refute her (above, 135). It is, of course, quite possible that clashes of a similar sort often occurred, But it seems to me just as likely that we are dealing here with a floating ecclesiastical story that originally referred to an actual incident, but then, with the names altered, it turns up here and there in order to show why the spirit of God was not successful in overcoming the spirit of the devil. The blame is laid on the hypocrisy and brutal use of force by the heretics, not on any lack of courage or incentive by the ecclesiastical warriors. The fact that this ecclesiastically oriented story turns up in various regions, appears to me useful for determining the degree of ecclesiastical success in combatting the Montanist movement. .