THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH - Volume 2: by Philip Carrington, Archbishop of Quebec. Published by the syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1957. Katapi edition by Paul Ingram, 2013.

|224 CHAPTER 14: THE PERIOD OF MELITO

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The genius of Syrian Christianity expressed itself naturally in myths and legends and psalms and hymns. In literature it affected the pseudonymous; it liked historical romances. It also liked church-orders and chronicles and new editions of sacred texts; but the identity of the author was concealed in these cases too. The work of Tatian and Theophilus is really rather exceptional. Clement of Alexandria says that the great teachers of this generation did not write books.

On the other hand the correspondence of Dionysius of Corinth revealed a network of communication among learned and literary bishops, including two in Crete, Philip and Pinytus; and Eusebius knows of other writers of the period, such as Modestus and Musanus. Asia Minor also had its literary bishops and its learned schools, which profoundly influenced the course of Christian thought; but we have nothing but a few extracts, and a few shadowy synchronisms, and lists of lost books. Yet this country was the source of theological and prophetic movements which stirred the Christian world; it continued to fertilize the thinking of the Roman church to the end of the century, after which its great creative period came to an end.
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Denarius: Marcus Aurelius

THE THUNDERING LEGION, A.D. 171

Marcus Aurelius visited Smyrna in Asia Minor, with his son Cormmodus, on his way back to Rome in the year 176; and this is the only occasion known to us for the presentation in person of the Apologies of Claudius Apollinarius and Melito of Sardis. These Apologies have not been preserved, but we know something about them. In one of his books Apollinarius referred to the famous episode of the 'thundering legion', which Eusebius assigns to 174 but some modern scholars to |225 171; « See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Lawlor and Oulton, vol. ii, p. 161. and the book in which he did so is likely to have been his Apology. His other books, To the Greeks, Concerning Truth, and To the Jews, do not seem to be so likely; nor his Epistle against the Phrygian heresy. This incident had occurred during a campaign on the Danube against the Quadi. The Roman army was suffering from lack of water owing to a drought and were in a bad way, when they saw the enemy approaching. In their desperation they knelt on the ground and offered prayer. No sooner had this been done than a thunderbolt fell from heaven, followed by a torrent of rain which saved the situation. Such is the way in which the story is told by pagan and Christian authors, though details differ, of course.

The providential downpour of rain is illustrated on the Antonine column which was erected in Rome in front of the Pantheon to commemorate the victories of Marcus. It is sculptured with a number of scenes illustrating the war on the Danube. In one of these Jupiter Pluvius, the god of rain, can be seen pouring it down in streams upon the soldiers, who are collecting it in every sort of container. In the pagan account of the miracle, the credit is given to the prayers of the emperor himself, or to an Egyptian magician who was present; but the Christians ascribed it to the prayers of Christian soldiers. Tertullian, writing nearly forty years later, says that Marcus himself gave the Christians the credit, and that he wrote a letter to the senate in consequence, ordering the cessation of persecution; before long, copies of this imaginary letter were in circulation. Marcus did write a report of the matter to the senate, but we may be sure that he gave the credit to Jupiter Pluvius or to some other appropriate pagan deity; and we know that the persecution continued.

Apollinarius is the earliest witness to the story; but Eusebius does not quote him; he merely says that he told the story in a simple and artless manner, and added that, from that time, the legion which had wrought the marvel received from the emperor a title appropriate to the event, being styled the Thundering Legion. Actually however, it had been known for a long time as the 'legio fulminate' (the legion which was armed with the thunderbolt) and no change at all was made in the name.

It was the Twelfth Legion, and had been stationed before the war at Melitene near Caesarea in Cappadocia, where, no doubt, it had taken in |226 its Christian recruits. Wherever it went, it would be conspicuous because of its shields bearing the figure XII and the emblem of the thunderbolt. Christian legionaries, we may be sure, would not be backward in giving their version of the story, and claiming that their prayers had saved the emperor and his army; and Christian apologists would not be backward in pushing this claim. What is of interest to the modern historian, of course, is the discovery that there were a number of Christians in the army, a fact which implies a certain degree of religious accommodation on both sides. These legionaries could not have evaded the duty of offering religious homage to the emperor and to the standards of the legion; but perhaps there were ways of making things easy for Christians who were prepared to serve as soldiers; and perhaps there is a grain of truth in the story that the emperor stopped the persecution of Christians. He may have been lenient to Christians who would undertake military service. And, after all, the case of Jewish soldiers must have presented exactly the same problems, and have been met in some way.
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THE APOLOGY OF MELITO, A.D. 176

The Apology of Melito is generally dated by scholars after Commodus became co-emperor; but the reference to Commodus in the text is not very formal, and the deduction hardly seems necessary. It would have been perfectly natural to include a reference to the young Caesar, if the Apology was presented to Marcus Aurelius when he visited Smyrna with his son in 176 on his way home from Syria. No other opportunity for actual presentation seems to suggest itself.

The few sentences which are quoted from it by Eusebius give some idea of the kind of approach which Melito adopted. In accordance with the spirit of the period, he indulges in historical retrospect. He looks back on the last few years. An unheard-of thing has happened. The race of the God-worshippers in Asia is being persecuted and harried as a result of new decrees, a statement which suggests that some new directives of some sort have been issued against the Christians. Shameless informers and coveters of other men's goods are taking advantage of these decrees to attack and plunder innocent people. There was a reference to the looting of Christian homes as early as the Epistle to the Hebrews, and we shall find it described in the Acts of the Gallican Martyrs. Some new decrees, issued by somebody in authority, have |227 encouraged it, but Melito affects to doubt whether the emperor was responsible. The mob has been let loose again. He asks for an impartial investigation, and for the punishment of scandalmongers and informers, the very point which Hadrian had insisted upon. It would seem that there had not been many actual martyrdoms recently.

The Christian philosophy, he remarked, had appeared in history at the same time as the empire itself. It had been the foster-sister of the empire and had brought it good fortune. Nobody had harmed it in any way until malicious persons had brought untrue slanders to the attention of Nero and Domitian, emperors of whom nobody was very proud. Their hostile policy had been corrected by the 'pious father' of Marcus, who had frequently admonished, even in writing, those who had made attacks on the Christians; he reminds Marcus of the rescript of his adoptive grandfather Hadrian, and the edict by which his 'father' Antoninus had restrained the anti-Christian demonstrations in Athens and Larissa and Thessalonica. There is a document in existence which purports to give the text of this edict, but its fictitious character is very obvious, though some scholars are prepared to think that traces of an authentic document may be found in some of its phrases. Our real knowledge of it, however, is entirely confined to what Melito says about it. We have ventured to date it about 150-5.

Melito appeals with confidence to Marcus, as he is even more philosophic and philanthropic than his fathers; but his argument fell on deaf ears. It is possible, however, that Commodus listened.
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CHRISTIANITY AND THE EMPIRE

These fragments give a valuable review of the history, which confirms our reconstruction. We see, however, that he is answering new objections. It had been contended, we must suppose, that the calamities suffered by the empire during the reign of the present philosophic and god-loving prince had been due to the impiety of the Christians. A plausible theory. On the contrary, Melito replies, Christianity and the empire had originated and prospered side by side. The good emperors, he pleads, had protected the church; the bad emperors had persecuted it. There is a note struck here which we may also detect in the reference of Apollinarius to the Thundering Legion; perhaps, too, in the Clementine legends which never mention persecution, and affiliate the first |228 bishop of Rome with the imperial family. It is an assurance of loyalty. It is a note of fraternization and conciliation towards the empire if the empire will have it. Far from being a hostile or baneful force, Christianity was a fortunate influence and possibly a predestined ally. Here, too, are hints of future historical developments.

This is very different from the Syrianism which we found in Theophilus of Antioch. If indeed some Syrian Christians had been on the wrong side in the recent rebellion, the riots complained of by Melito could easily be explained, and the hostile attitude of the new imperial edicts accounted for. We could also see the special point of the references by Apollinarius to the prayers of Christian soldiers recruited in the border province.
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AVIRCIUS MARCELLUS

High up in the headwaters of the Glaucus River, which was the main tributary of the Meander, was the part of Phrygia known as the Pentapolis or Five Cities. Here, it would seem, Montanism was not so powerful. Among the Five Cities were Otrous and Hieropolis, which is not to be confused with the much larger city of Hierapolis. This country was the home of the 'Anonymous' writer on Montanism; he mentions Zoticus of Otrous as his fellow-presbyter, and dedicates his book to Avircius Marcellus of Hieropolis. The three men were members of an anti-Montanist group which was active early in the hundred-and-nineties; or earlier than the hundred-and-nineties, since Avircius had asked the 'Anonymous' to write a pamphlet on Montanism some time previously.

All three may have been bishops, since it was customary for bishops to allude to one another by the honourable old title of presbyter or elder. We do not know whether this Zoticus was identical with the Zoticus of Cumana who examined Maximilla at Pepuza; it seems rather unlikely; but we know something about Avircius. He had a considerable reputation as a holy man and wonder-worker. About the year 400 somebody wrote a legendary Life of Aberdus, which is far removed from history, but preserves the information that he was the bishop of Hieropolis, and quotes the epitaph which he caused to be inscribed upon his tombstone.

All doubts about the epitaph were set at rest by the discovery of the tombstone in 1883 by the famous archaeologist Sir William Ramsay. |229 Avircius composed the epitaph himself, and had the stone erected in his seventy-second year, which was probably no later than 200 or 210, since it was imitated by another citizen of Hieropolis, who dated his in 216.

According to this computation, Avircius was in his thirties or early forties in the year 175 when the Syrian revolt was put down. His epitaph tells of a journey to Mesopotamia, which could have taken place as early as 170-4, when the new province must have been well organized; more likely perhaps during the five or ten years after 176. Time has to be allowed before this eastern journey for a visit to Rome. He tells the story in lame hexameters, which recall the ambiguous oracular style of the Sibylline verses rather than the strong-winged music of Homer. They are full of mysterious symbols and literary allusions in the Phrygian manner, with pagan imagery interwoven with the Christian; or at any rate the Christian treated in pagan style.

I who am a citizen of the elect city, erected this in my lifetime, that I might have in due season a place therein for my body.

My name is Avircius: I am a disciple of the pure shepherd who feeds his flocks upon mountains and plains: he who has great all-seeing eyes. He taught me the faithful scriptures of life.
(Cf. Revelation v. 6.)

The shepherd symbolism might have suggested to the pagan passer-by the Phrygian shepherd-god Attis, who, however, could hardly be described as pure. The Christian would think of the Gospels.

To Rome he sent me to see my king and to see my queen, golden-robed and golden-sandalled. I saw a people there who bore a splendid seal.

The king would seem to be the emperor and the queen the empress, though some scholars suggest that the queen means the city. If it means the empress, the journey must have been taken before the year 175 when Faustina left Rome, never to return. There was no one after her, until the last years of the century, who bore theimperial title of Augusta. The church of Rome lies hidden under the reference to the people with the seal.

I also saw the plain of Syria and all the towns, and Nisibis. I crossed over the Euphrates, and everywhere I had companions.

|230 Nisibis lies beyond Edessa, so that Avircius saw something of the new Syriac-speaking Christianity. It was all under Roman rule.

Everywhere I had companions. Paul was my companion, and faith everywhere led me forward; and served food everywhere, the fish from the fountain, immense and pure, which the pure virgin caught, and gave to her friends to eat continually, having good wine, and giving the mixed cup with the bread.

This suggests that he followed the trail of Paul through Phrygia and Cilicia and Antioch and Damascus, finding hospitality everywhere in the mysterious sacramental fellowship of the church.

Loaves and fishes

The modern Christian can easily see the reference to the eucharist in these lines, but he may not notice at first that the pure virgin is the church which dispenses these mysteries. The use of the fish as a symbol for Christ appears here as an established tradition. The famous lines in the Sibylline Oracles are not much later; for Christians were already producing these mysterious verses in their own interests, as Celsus says in the True Word. The second division of Book viii begins with an acrostic, the initial letters of the first twenty-seven lines reading as follows: ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΘΕΟΥ ΥΙΟΣ ΣΩΤΗΡ – 'Jesus Christus God's Son Saviour'; and the initial letters of these five words give the word ΙΧΘΥΣ, which means fish.

The fish symbol was a sacramental emblem, suggested by such passages in the Gospel as the feeding of the five thousand in Mark, which may have been in the mind of Avircius throughout; for Mark mentions the shepherd and the mountain in this connexion, and of course the bread. The poetry on the tomb of Avircius is catacomb art in words. In the catacomb pictures of the eucharist, a fish or fishes often appear with the bread and the cup as a symbol of Christ; and a fish, like a lamb or a dove, could also be used as an image of the soul of the believer. In Theophilus the fishes which are born in the water on the fifth day are symbols of Christian souls reborn in baptism. It may also be used as an image of the convert or believer. Tertullian says of baptism, 'we little fishes, like our big fish, were born in the water.' Such symbolism was something more than a cryptic code-language designed to protect Christian devotion from the scrutiny of the hostile world; it was like the artist's or poet's language of images; it was an imaginative exuberance, arising out of evangelical mass-enthusiasm, and creating an |231 idiom of its own, similar to the speaking with tongues of the apostolic period. The hymns of modern popular usage often show the same characteristics. But to return to Avircius.

These things, I Avircius, standing by, ordered to be inscribed here. I am truly seventy-two years old. He who understandeth these things, let him pray for Avircius, even he who hath knowledge.

But no one is to put another into my tomb, and if he does, he is to pay the Roman treasury two thousand gold pieces, and to my native city of Hiero-polis one thousand gold pieces.

Avircius, therefore, was a person of consequence in his native city. His name is Roman or Celtic. He was a Romanized Phrygian grandee, or a Phrygianized member of some Roman family. He was obviously a loyalist in politics. He seems to have been unmarried, in all probability a spiritual and ascetic like Melito; indeed, it is a long time since we heard of any Christian bishop or teacher of whom it is perfectly certain that he was married; not since the apostles in fact, and the married bishops of the Pastorals, and Valens of Philippi, and the prophet Hermas; to which we may add the father of Marcion and the family of bishops in Ephesus to which Polycrates belonged. I doubt if we meet another case before Tertullian and possibly Clement of Alexandria. The evidence is too scrappy, of course, to permit any generalizations on the subject; but it is certainly interesting. The episcopate in Asia could produce its own celibate 'spirituals' to confront the Montanist prophets.

Other Christian intellectuals also expressed themselves in verse. No doubt the Asian, probably Ephesian, elder, who wrote verses against a Valentinian magus of the name of Marcus was flourishing about this time. They may be paraphrased as follows.

Maker of idols, O Marcus, and warden of wonders,
Adept in astral learning and magical cunning,
Ever confirming thereby the teachings of error,
Showing thy signs to them whom thou makest to wander,
Worked in the power of the dark apostate spirit,
Even as Satan thy father in bounty supplies thee,
By the might of the fallen angel Azazel to do them,
So making thee the forerunner of atheistical evils.
(Irenaeus, Ad. Haer. xviii, 17.)

|232 Marcus had looked too deeply into the parables and sacraments of Jesus which made use of symbols which had long been known in the mysteries of the ancient world. After all, the cup of wine or the ear of corn reaped were not new with the gospel; what made them new was the new shepherd who took them into association with himself. Marcus brought them back into association with the oldest of the deities in his part of the world, the great mother, whom he magnified into a heavenly spirit, after the manner of Valentinus. When he celebrated his sacrament, he used a cup of water, which turned red as it was changed into the blood of the mother, the 'grace which is above all things'.

The cup was a symbol of prophecy; but it was also a symbol of the bridal rite, when the prophet took one of the sisters to himself and made her a prophetess.

First of all take grace, from me and through me; make thyself ready as a bride awaiting her bridegroom, that I may be what thou art, and thou what I: Consecrate within thy bridal chamber the seed of light; receive from me the bridegroom: give place unto him and let him give place unto thee: behold grace hath come upon thee; open thy mouth and prophesy.

Here is the prophet of the wrong sort, and this may be what the Didache calls a cosmic mystery of the church.

To return to Avircius, however; he supplies us with our first perfectly clear example of a request for prayer on behalf of the departed; but these also appear in the catacomb burials.
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MELITO AS A THEOLOGIAN

The loss of all the works of Melito is a serious deprivation to the student of church history and theology. He was probably the leading theologian of catholic Christianity between Justin and Irenaeus. He had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. He could address an emperor in a worthy and dignified manner. He could deal with an Old Testament story in the imaginative vein of his liturgical tradition. He could preach a sermon in a fervent mystical style which is rather too rich and ornate for our modern western taste; his flowers of speech are suggestive of the east rather than the west. On the other hand he could handle points of doctrine and was in advance of his time in theological terminology, speaking of two 'substances' or ousiai in Christ, and contrasting his human 'nature' or phusis with his divine nature, almost in the style |233 of later theologians. His works reached Rome, where they were treated with respect, as we learn from definite references in the pages of Tertullian, and in the Little Labyrinth which is ascribed to Hippolytus. His influence has been discerned by scholars in the great masterpiece of Tertullian, the famous Liber Apologeticus.

A number of his books were preserved in the library at Caesarea where Eusebius worked, and he gives a catalogue of them which is repeated by Jerome. It is a very impressive list, though it does not mention the six volumes of Extracts from the prophets, or the Homily on the Passion which is the oldest surviving Christian sermon. They are,

Concerning the Pascha [two volumes], Concerning Christian conduct and the prophets, Concerning the church, Concerning the Lord's Day, Concerning the nature of man, Concerning the creation, Concerning the obedience of faith, Concerning the senses, Concerning the soul and body, Concerning Baptism, Concerning truth, Concerning the creation and the birth of Christ, Concerning prophecy, Concerning hospitality, Concerning the devil and the Revelation of John, The key, Concerning the embodied God, and To Antoninus [his apology].
(Eusebius, E.H. iv, 26, 2.)

He must have contributed a great deal to the theologians of the next generation.
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MILTIADES AND ALCIBIADES

This list of books, together with the other evidence which we have reviewed, proves that there was a vigorous literary and theological life in Asia Minor which was stimulated by controversy of all kinds. The old bishops like Polycarp who had been content to handle the oral tradition had given way to literary bishops who wrote books in the Greek manner. Elders and teachers adopted the style of the philosopher, founded schools and produced books, the great majority of which are lost. Among these cultured writers we must rank Miltiades, whose works are entirely lost, though Tertullian praises him as 'the sophist of the Christian churches' and Hippolytus in the Little Labyrinth includes him among the stalwarts who upheld the divinity of Christ. He wrote, as they all did, a treatise To the Jews and a treatise To the Greeks and an apology To the Rulers of the World. It also appears that he wrote a book against the Montanists, That a Prophet ought not to Speak in Ecstasy.

|234 The New Prophecy was passing into its second phase. In connexion with the Gallican martyrdoms of 177 or 178, Eusebius remarks that 'just then, for the first time, the disciples of Montanus, of Alcibiades, and of Theodotus, in the region of Phrygia, were winning a wide reputation for prophecy', adding that a controversy arose about these persons to which the brethren in Gaul made their contribution by submitting a pious and orthodox judgement. Time has passed. It is the disciples of the original leaders who are now becoming prominent, and the universal church is being drawn into the controversy. The names of the leaders, however, are not free from difficulty in one particular, and the text of Eusebius may have been corrupted by errors in transmission. He has a reference to Alcibiades (v, 16, 17) where he seems to have meant to write Miltiades; and he once names Miltiades (vi, 16, 3) as if he were a Montanist. Some error seems to have crept into his text which cannot be corrected now. But we are sure of the catholic Miltiades and the Montanist Alcibiades.
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THE MONTANIST TRADITION

The form of the New Prophecy which spread to the west in the latter part of the second century does not seem to agree in all respects with the picture which comes to us from Phrygia. It is a more moderate and reasonable movement, albeit very harsh and severe. It knows nothing of the descent of the New Jerusalem at Pepuza, if that was really meant to be taken literally; nor do we find the well organized prophetic ministry, with its high steward and oblations.

A Roman Montanist named Proclus is said to have claimed Philip of Hierapolis and his daughters as the ancestors or predecessors of the movement, but the local theory of the prophetic succession, as reported by the' Anonymous', goes back no farther than Quadratus and Ammia of Philadelphia. He mentions Agabus, and Judas, and Silas, and the daughters of Philip, with Ammia and Quadratus, as examples of prophecy of the right kind; but he mentions them as part of his own argument and does not connect them with the Phrygian succession. The 'succession' was a purely local one, and was not reinforced by Bible names.

If the talk of Proclus about Philip's daughters (as reported by Gaius) is to be taken seriously, we may be looking at two different |235 successions, one connected with Hierapolis, the home of Philip and Papias; the other with Philadelphia through Ammia and Quadratus; both of them going back to the Revelation of John; the Hierapolis succession looking for the New Jerusalem in Palestine, the Philadel-phian in Phrygia.

The views of the movement which are given by the two principal authorities are by no means identical. The Anonymous, who was a local bishop or presbyter with first-hand knowledge, has in mind Ardabau and the first prophesyings of Montanus; he refers a good deal to Maximilla, but never mentions Priscilla or Pepuza, at least not in the extracts given by Eusebius. Apollonius, however, is interested in Priscilla and Pepuza; he also mentions the examination of Maximilla at Pepuza by Zoticus, Eusebius says, but does not quote his actual words. No doubt there were different sects within the movement, and everybody may not have approved of what went on at Pepuza. Even in Rome there were two sorts of Montanism, one headed by Aeschines, which was ' monarchian' in theology, like Montanus himself, the other by Proclus, who seems to have represented the same Asia Minor tradition in theology as Justin and Melito and Irenaeus. The tendency of Montanism to split into groups following personal leaders may be the point in the popular description of them as 'Kata-Phrygians'. Kata means 'according to'; and we do find the preposition used rather often, 'according to Aeschines', 'according to Proclus', 'according to Asterius Urbanus', and even 'according to Miltiades'.

The references to Quadratus and Ammia on the one hand, and to the daughters of Philip on the other, may do no more than identify the particular local variety of Montanism which was in question. When Epiphanius wrote his great book on heresies, he listed the Priscillians (or Pepuzans) as a separate sect.
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THE EXPANSION OF MONTANISM

The Montanism which reached Rome and Gaul was not of the Pepuzan or Priscillian type, though Priscilla was numbered among the prophets. It was a popular imaginative revival movement with visions and ecstasies. It was welcomed by the martyrs in their prisons. It advocated a rigid discipline which the church generally did not accept. It fasted for longer hours and for more days. It condemned second |236 marriages of any sort. It refused absolution for grave sins, though indeed there grew up a strange idea that the martyr had a privilege in this respect. It is probable that it exercised a powerful influence on the Latin church. Asia Minor had always found a field of expansion in the west; where Asian theology and liturgy had led the way, Phrygian prophecy could follow.

The New Prophecy added to the flood of literature which was deluging the church. The gnostics had their apocryphal Gospels and other additional literature; the Ebionites had their legends; fictitious Acts and Epistles were also being circulated; and the number of genuine Epistles had also been added to. The apostles had been succeeded in this respect by Clement and Ignatius and Polycarp; and these were being succeeded by Soter and Dionysius and Themiso. The Revelation of Peter and the Shepherd of Hermas were read in the Roman church. The oracles of Montanus and his women were being written down, and these oracles were regarded by the adherents of the New Prophecy as being at least equal in authority to the apostolic writings. The Paraclete had said more things in Montanus than in Christ or the apostles; and not only more, but better and greater; according to the account of Hippolytus as preserved in the Latin Libellus. It was a supplementary revelation which made additions to the old apostolic tradition; the authority of the Paraclete through Montanus could not be gainsaid, as Tertullian makes perfectly clear.

The dissemination of this literature forced the church to consider seriously the definition of what is now called the New Testament canon; and it also marked the end of the creative period in the New Prophecy. There are no more revelations on the grand scale. There may have been others who claimed the prophetic gift, but Maximilla would not concede it. 'After me', she said, 'there will be no more prophets, but only the end.' It sounds as if she was the last of the three to be left. She prophesied wars and confusions and persecutions; but actually wars and confusions were drawing to a close for the time being. The Anonymous wrote his book about thirteen years after her death.

Surely this falsehood too is now evident [he writes]; for it is more than thirteen years today since the woman died, and there has been neither a partial nor a universal war in the world; nay rather, by the mercy of God, the Christians have enjoyed continuous peace.
(The Anonymous, Against Montanism, in Eusebius, E.H. v, 16, 19.)

|237 The only period of thirteen years that could possibly be described in this way is the thirteen and a half years reign of Commodus, from 180 to 192.
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THE DEATH OF MAXIMILLA, c. 178 A.D.

We may place the death of Maximilla in 178 or 179, and the date when the Anonymous wrote about 192. He claimed that he wrote some forty years after the New Prophecy began, which would make the date of its origin about 152. This is reasonably close to 157, the date that Epiphanius gives.
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THE ASIAN SCHOOLS

Montanism was not the only subject which was being discussed by Christians in Asia Minor. There were debates on doctrinal points, in which the first steps were being taken which led to the formulation of the doctrines of the incarnation and the Trinity. Christ is the Son of God, Melito said. He is the Word of the Father, begotten before the light, the creator of all things with the Father, the fashioner of men, the all-in-all; he became incarnate in the virgin's womb; he was born a perfect man that he might save lost mankind and gather together his scattered members. But once he has said this, he does not insist, as a theologian should, on the distinction between the Son and the Father. It is God who comes down to earth to take our flesh from the holy virgin, to be mocked by the Jews, to be fastened on a tree, to be buried in the ground, and to rise from the dead. In an exalted moment he can say, 'God has been slain by an Israelite hand', just as Ignatius could talk about the Passion of his God. In fact this is the kind of talk that went on, we may suppose, when Christians met for the Paschal rites. It would appear that Montanus talked in this way of the Paraclete; for it was God himself who spoke through him.

This old evangelical theology was christened 'monarchianism'. Its watchword was 'One God'. The preachers of this school did not hesitate to assert that God had died on Calvary. In the apocryphal Acts, the great apostles preach in this style. It is the old Jewish monotheism in rather too close union with the Christian gospel.

On the other hand, Melito revels in the doctrine of the two natures. Christ is simultaneously true God and perfect man. Melito is fighting Docetism, but he is also fighting some sort of Ebionism which thought |238 in terms of the man Jesus and a Spirit which descended upon him at his baptism. He asserts that the divinity was hidden in the flesh of Jesus from the beginning; Christ established both his natures during his earthly life; the humanity in the thirty years before the baptism, and the divinity in the three years after; a chronology based on Luke and John.

There was an opposition school of 'monarchianism', however, which defended the Ebionite point of view. This school preached Jesus as a man uniquely endowed with the Holy Spirit; so closely integrated with the Holy Spirit as to have become, to all intents and purposes,God. A christology of this kind was developed at Byzantium, and has come to be called 'adoptionism'. We have some light on the controversies on this subject, which divided the Roman church at the end of the century, but very little on its earlier stages in Asia, where the monarchian schools originated. We are informed, however, by Tertullian and by the author of the Little Labyrinth, who was probably Hippolytus, that Melito and Miltiades were the predecessors of Irenaeus in the enterprise of working out a satisfactory theology of the person of Christ. Asia continued to carry onward, in the realms of theology, the creative thinking of Paul, John and Ignatius.
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