"They are not the Words of a Rational Man": ecstatic prophecy in Montanism

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Abstract

Both the historiographical analysis and the ancient documents about the Christian movement known as Montanism place paramount importance on prophecy, visions, and ecstasy. The theological refutation of Montanist teaching and doctrine in the heresiological sources was almost entirely shaped by the attribution of deceitfulness and error to the experience of ecstatic prophecy. Even though some oracles uttered by the Montanist prophets are preserved, the most detailed description of their ecstasy is conveyed by the reports of the heresiologists. The present paper attempts to reconstruct the Montanist prophetic experience, comparing descriptions of Montanist ecstasy in the heresiological texts with other reports about ecstatic prophecy. More specifically, an analysis of the linguistic components that heresiologists used to describe ecstasy is contrasted with the vocabulary of other texts which illustrate the same basic model of religious experience. Finally, the conclusions draw attention to the discourses and interpretations of ecstatic prophecy related by different observers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLived Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World : Approaching Religious Transformations from Archaeology, History and Classics
EditorsValentino Gasparini, Maik Patzelt, Rubina Raja, Anna-Katharina Rieger, Jörg Rüpke, Emiliano Urciuoli
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter
Publication date6. Apr 2020
Pages71-86
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-055757-2
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-055759-6, 978-3-11-055794-7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6. Apr 2020

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Dell'lsola, M. (2020). "They are not the Words of a Rational Man": ecstatic prophecy in Montanism. In V. Gasparini, M. Patzelt, R. Raja, A-K. Rieger, J. Rüpke, & E. Urciuoli (Eds.), Lived Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Approaching Religious Transformations from Archaeology, History and Classics (pp. 71-86). De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110557596-005