Montanism in Second/Third Century CE Anatolia: A Hybridist Mystery Religion.

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Title: Montanism in Second/Third Century CE Anatolia: A Hybridist Mystery Religion.
Author: Viets, Chaffee W.
Advisors: S. Thomas Parker, Committee Chair
William Adler, Committee Member
John M. Riddle, Committee Member
Abstract: The purpose of this research is to provide an alternative lens to use in the study of Montanism than is offered by the dominant paradigm developed during the last two centuries. Most scholars assume or assert that the earliest Montanists in Phrygia, in ancient Turkey, sprung from within the local, rural Christian community of Pepouza. As such, most modern research has omitted considerations of anything beyond incidental contact with so called ‘pagan’ cults in the surrounding area. I will argue that Phrygian Montanism can be viewed from its inception as a religion with several parental contributors, embodied as an eclectic amalgam of multiple forms of Christianity, the cult of Cybele and Attis, the cult of Dionysius, the oracle cult of Apollo, and other sources including Judaism. In this sense, it rather resembled not merely a Christian ‘heresy’ as several Ante and Post Nicene fathers asserted in their polemical tracts, nor an offshoot of a polytheistic cult, but instead a unique mystery religion, neither wholly ‘pagan’ nor Christian in composition. In other words, Montanism might be viewed alternately, regardless of what its founder(s) believed this “New Prophecy†represented, as an independent mystery religion, separately practiced while simultaneously overlapping the various Anatolian Christianities, ‘pagan’ cults, and state sponsored religions of the eastern Roman Empire. Within this context, arguments about its source, placement, acceptance and religious validity within the ‘pagan’ or Christian historical worlds become tangential. Seen as an island, a new vision of Montanism arises, one defined more comprehensively by the social, cultural and religious traditions of Anatolia and a Christianity that began with Pauline missionary activity 100 years prior to Montanism’s rise in Phrygia. I intend to argue this thesis by presenting an outline of Anatolian culture and religion as it relates to the emergence of Montanism in rural Phrygia before showing how it represents a uniquely structured hybrid mystery religion with both Christian and ‘pagan’ elements.
Date: 2009-04-23
Degree: MA
Discipline: History
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/642


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