What did the Montanists read?(Critical Essay)
Nicola Denzey
Harvard Theological Review, Oct, 2001

Could the Montanists have included any of the Nag Hammadi writings among the "infinite number" of writings that Hippolytus of Rome reports they considered authoritative? (1) Heresiological sources give us little information regarding what might have been included within a Montanist canon. We know from the Church Fathers that the New Prophecy possessed its own inspired writings. (2) Indeed, in the fourth century Eusebius charges them with having created "new scriptures" (3)--presumably the collections of oracular statements that Hippolytus claims circulated under the names of Montanus, Prisca and Maximilla, and about which the bishop of Rome complains that "they allege that they have learned more from these than from the law, and the prophets and the Gospels." (4) On the other hand, Eusebius's late contemporary, Epiphanius, makes it clear that members of the New Prophecy did not reject more traditional scriptures. (5) For their barbs against their theological opponents, they adopted Matthew's castigation of "prophet-slayers"; (6) they also certainly favored Paul, upon whom they appeared to have drawn to justify their stance on prophecy, and--certainly by the fourth century--the Gospel of John, for their notion that Montanus himself was the Paraclete or "Spirit of God." (7) Their use of the Book of Revelation has been widely debated, but seems likely. (8) But could the Montanists have read--and considered authoritative--any of the writings now preserved in the Nag Hammadi Library?

The present article considers the possibility that the New Prophecy may have found certain so-called "gnostic" writings from the Nag Hammadi Library compatible enough with their theology to have both known and included them within their canon. The Nag Hammadi Library is eclectic; it does not represent any single theology or community. Within this diverse collection, I suggest that two related texts--the revelatory poem entitled Thunder: Perfect Mind (NHC VI,2) and Trimorphic Protennoia (NHC XIII,1)-- although hardly likely to have been composed by Montanists, may nevertheless have been attractive to early adherents of the New Prophecy during the late second century. (9) These texts are notoriously difficult to categorize or date; the Thunder and Trimorphic Protennoia's use of Jewish sapiential traditions, however, suggests authorship within a Jewish Alexandrian community, with later redaction--most likely during the second century--by heterodox Christians. (10) There is nothing to connect either text directly with the New Prophecy or with Asia Minor, but this need not be necessary to suggest their use within Montanist communities, which likely began around Pepuza in the 160s C.E. but quickly spread westward; they reached North Africa within the century. (11)

Admittedly, the suggestion that adherents of the New Prophecy might have been attracted to Nag Hammadi documents initially strikes us as absurd. But let us consider for a moment what has prevented us from considering a Montanist reception of so-called Gnostic texts. First, the long, slow process of academic compartmentalization has prevented us from thinking across lines that were established for us, ironically enough, by the heresiological sources we now tend to deconstruct or to refute. If we allow ourselves to be influenced by the biases of these sources themselves, it is easy enough to perceive Montanists as having polemicized against "Gnosticism." Tertullian, for instance, himself a Montanist later in life, reports that the Montanist Proclus wrote against the Valentinians. (12) Tertullian himself composed a number of treatises, such as On the Soul, which we conventionally define as "anti-Gnostic." Yet the label is misleading. Tertullian argued not against "Gnostics," but against certain Christians who rejected voluntary martyrdom, who denied the resurrection of the flesh (as is the case with On the Soul), and who devalued the flesh. He did not refute movements per se, but rather theological opponents such as Marcion and Valentinus. As Michael Williams has recently argued, none of these movements, nor any single figure such as Marcion or Valentinus, necessarily or consistently represented a movement or philosophy we can safely label "Gnosticism," taken as a whole. (13) To return to our two "case studies," neither Thunder: Perfect Mind nor Trimorphic Protennoia expresses any sense of the flesh as devalued in any way, nor takes any position regarding martyrdom, nor denies the resurrection of the flesh. Their theology is neither Marcionite nor Valentinian. Yet the generalizing label "Gnostic," for the most part, remains. A lamentable consequence of this inaccurate categorization is that scholars remain confined to their area of specialization without working across categories; "Gnosticism" specialists do not generally examine or consider Montanist texts, nor do Montanism specialists read Nag Hammadi sources.

Scholars of early Christianity face a second significant challenge in that we are caught between two types of sources. Texts such as those found at Nag Hammadi provide few clues as to their social or community context; we cannot infer from them who was using them, or where, or when, or for what purpose. By way of contrast, heresiologists have specialized in anthropological excursus, delighting especially in the more specific, bizarre aspects of these groups. Hippolytus's derogatory characterization of the Montanists as "radish-eaters" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), (14) for instance, could neither be refuted nor supported by examining their theological treatises. In other words, while many of the characteristics of Montanism that are supported in the heresiological sources--such as their relation to martyrdom, their position on marriage, their practices of feasting and fasting, prophecy/glossolalia, and the phenomena of women appointed to the clergy--are crucial to identity politics, they are absent from the theological treatises either produced, or adopted, and circulated by Montanist communities. Accordingly, none of our extant Montanist oracles takes much of a direct position on these issues, and we certainly cannot expect to find them in other theological texts they might have included within their canon.

On the other side of the equation, there are reasons I believe we ought to take seriously the possibility that Thunder and Trimorphic Protennoia develop and articulate various aspects of their theology--including conceptions of the divine, the nature of salvation, and the role of community--which members of the New Prophecy may not have found necessarily dissonant with their own. The dismantling of heresiological categories within modern scholarship has startled us into appreciating how remarkably close to the mainstream the theology and practices of any group labeled "heretical" can be. It is less remarkable to us now than ever before, for instance, that Tertullian in his Montanist phase uses the Pauline-inspired terms psychici and spiritales--once widely considered part of a characteristically "Gnostic" vocabulary--to distinguish his community from members of the mainstream on the position of second marriage. (15)

Several characteristics of classical Montanism reveal remarkable intersections with elements found in both Thunder: Perfect Mind and Trimorphic Protennoia. First, Montanists shared a distinct mode of discourse--the use of aretalogical "I am" sayings--with these two Nag Hammadi writings. Second, all of these sources share a similar orientation with respect to the status of prophecy and eschatology. In anticipation of the charge that these two elements--namely similar vocabulary and praxis--are merely general characteristics that diverse communities of the second century were likely to have shared, I offer a third, more specific parallel: Montanist sapiential theology--as expressed in the unattributed oracle where Christ, in the form of a woman, comes and places Wisdom inside a prophetess--bears a remarkable similarity to the descent and incarnation of Wisdom/Protennoia in the Trimorphic Protennoia. On the basis of these elements, I suggest that the New Prophecy appears to have shared with these two Nag Hammadi treatises an adaptation of Jewish sapiential traditions that placed at their center a particular way of envisioning divine power as feminized. I base my argument here not on heresiological definitions of the New Prophecy, but on a comparison of our earliest extant Montanist oracles with these two Nag Hammadi treatises. (16)

Gnosticism and Montanism

In recent years, scholars have devoted considerable attention to the often complex relationships between names and communities, particularly to the difference between names as labels imposed by outsiders, on the one hand, and self-designations, on the other. (17) No known "Gnostic" group in antiquity ever identifies itself as such anywhere in our extant literature, just as Montanists themselves appear to have eschewed the label "Montanist" in favor of the early self-designation [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Nevertheless, proponents of nineteenth-century historiography adopted both labels to articulate their vision of a second-century struggle of the Catholic Church against twin threats, "the Scylla of Gnosticism," on the one hand, and the "Charybdis of Montanism," on the other. (18) We can easily detect this "twinning" of anti-Catholic influences in, for instance, the work of Adolf Harnack, Ferdinand C. Baur, and Albrecht Ritschl. (19) Both movements, according to this view, developed as extravagant responses to primitive Christianity, nourished within the dangerously pagan wildness of Phrygia. Accordingly, Montanism as a reaction to Gnosticism developed as a tenet of nineteenth-century scholarship, represented in particular by Augustus Neander's work on Tertullian, Antignostikus, (20) and Hans von Schubert's Outline of Church History, where Montanism and the "Great Church" emerged as two different responses to the dangers of Gnosticism. (21)

Karlfried Froehlich, one of the few modern scholars to have examined critically the historiographical relationship between Montanism and Gnosticism, discusses Montanism as the "countermovement to Gnosticism" in an incisive but lamentably overlooked article published in 1973. (22) He notes the stolid conviction among modern scholars that Montanism had nothing to do with Gnosticism, but that it stood "on one side of the fence while Gnosticism stands on the other--in short, that [Montanism] must be anti-gnostic by nature and by root." (23) Christine Trevett, one of the most recent scholars to reexamine and define Montanism, likewise notes the tendency to separate the two movements:

Given such "twinning" in terms of influence, it is interesting that we

rarely encounter attempts to twin Montanism and Gnosticism genetically.

Instead, Montanism is usually assumed to have been at odds with, rather

than influenced by, Gnosticism. (24)

Trevett herself supports this analysis, describing Montanism as "hostile" to Gnostic thought. (25) Yet none of the references she makes in her learned study of Montanism indicates anything but a superficial and inaccurate knowledge of Gnosticism. She never defines Gnosticism per se, but she does associate it with both Docetism and Encratism, which I would argue were rather different and often separate philosophies or movements. In any case, neither is characteristic of Gnosticism nor of the two texts I am discussing here. (26) Like many other Montanist scholars before her, Trevett also falls prey to an argument ex silentio: "had the Prophecy been tainted [sic] with Gnosticism, then Hippolytus, no less than Tertullian, would certainly have recognized and written of it." (27) But this argument presumes accuracy in the process of heresiological labeling. To be fully consistent within her own logic, Trevett would be forced to accept Montanism as heretical, as did Hippolytus and his heresiologist contemporaries. Yet Trevett herself is quick to point out that the label was inaccurate, at least during the second century. (28)

Even with the spirit of the new academic Perestroika and scholars' concomitant willingness to do away with heresiological labels and constructs, few have seriously explored the idea that Montanism and Gnosticism might somehow have been related, rather than antithetical, phenomena. Froehlich suggests that the Montanist logia share more themes and language with Gnosticism than others have allowed, including at least one smoking gun: a Montanist claim to gnosis appears in an oracle attributed to Maximilla. (29) Froehlich's sole supporter, thus far, has been Francoise Blanchetiere, who, in a 1978 article characterized the New Prophecy as a spiritual reform movement with strongly apocalyptic and encratic leanings "non sans quelque parente avec certaines idees gnostiques." (30)

It is hardly my intention here to argue that Montanism was a form of Gnosticism; rather, I suggest that the labels for both are largely inadequate, heresiological constructs that do violence to both sets of evidence. They prevent us from seeing their points of contact, which I will argue are based not directly on textual interdependence or influence, but on a similar way of reinterpreting and rearticulating Jewish prophetic or sapiential traditions. Froehlich himself paved the way for this approach when he cautiously ventured that "a common language with Gnosticism suggests, if not interdependence, at least a common matrix," and then raised the tentative question, "Is there a possibility of Jewish roots for Montanism?" (31) Later scholars have been more likely to consider the Jewish matrix of both Montanism and Gnosticism, and to remain open to Judaism's profound influence on second-century Christian communities as they shaped new christocentric theologies from the ground of Jewish concepts of community, prophecy, and identity. We do not know the degree to which these new communities actively shaped one another. We do know, however, that they confronted similar issues of identity, heritage, and the need for change, and that they faced these challenges with relatively consistent and definable discourse, imagery, and purpose. These points of overlap will, I hope, become clearer below.

Montanism and Aretalogies

Origen, in his description of Christian prophets active in the 170s, notes that prophetic discourse at the time was characterized by self-commendation formulae such as "I am God" and "I have come." (32) Recently, scholars have underscored the use of "I am" sayings as a characteristic form of Montanist prophetic discourse. (33) From Montanus himself we have three "I am" sayings, of which the most interesting for our purposes is "I am the Father and I am the Son and I am the Holy Spirit" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (34) Although the form of this oracle immediately suggests the Gospel of John as its inspiration, the use of the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] formula characterizes neither Montanism nor the Fourth Gospel exclusively; we find it in a wide range of early Christian revelatory discourses, many of which Froehlich cites. (35) For instance, Simon Magus, like Montanus, apparently equated himself with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (36) In Trimorphic Protennoia, we also find the identification of the speaker as Father, Mother and Son at 37:22, though here it is embedded in a doctrinal passage and not an aretalogy. A better parallel for an aretalogical utterance in Trimorphic Protennoia is 45:3: "I am androgynous; I am Mother and I am Father." The well-noted shift in the second person of the Trinity need not concern us just yet; it is to the form of the proclamation that I wish to bring attention at this moment.

Montanus's trinitarian proclamation derives from a late and unreliable source. But if we consider our oldest extant Montanist logion, preserved by Asterius Urbanus and attributed to Maximilla, we find that it also preserves the aretalogical form: "I am driven away like a wolf from the sheep. I am not a wolf, I am word ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and spirit ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and power ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])." (37) Outside the Montanist oracles, we find our largest extant concentration of aretalogical proclamations in second-century literature in Thunder: Perfect Mind--which consists almost exclusively of "I am" sayings. I reproduce only a few of these lines here:

I am the voice ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) whose sound is

manifold and the word ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) whose

appearance is multiple. I am the utterance ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN

ASCII]) of my name. (Thund. 14:12-16)

[I am] the power of the powers in my knowledge ([GREEK TEXT NOT


of the angels, who have been sent at my word. (Thund. 18:15-17)

The Trimorphic Protennoia also contains three extensive aretalogical passages, which likely formed the most ancient stratum of the tractate:

I am the Word ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) who dwells in the

ineffable Voice ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (Trim. Prot.


I dwell within all the Sovereignties and Powers ([GREEK TEXT NOT

REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (Trim. Prot. 47:20)

I am the image of the Invisible Spirit ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN

ASCII]). (Trim. Prot. 38:11)

It is important to note that of the fifty-two tractates in the Nag Hammadi library only these two contain aretalogies, with the possible exception of the untitled cosmological treatise that scholars have designated On the Origin of the World (NHC II,5 and XIII,2). This treatise reproduces a brief passage remarkably similar in both style and content to Thunder: Perfect Mind. These brief examples of excerpted passages illustrate that both Thunder: Perfect Mind and Trimorphic Protennoia share with Maximilla's proclamation not only the aretalogical format, but also the self-identification as divine speech or word. The speaker in Thunder proclaims, "I am the word ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) which cannot be grasped," while in Trim. Pro. 42:7, Protennoia reveals herself as "unchanging speech" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).

There appears to be a correspondence between the aretalogical mode adopted by both of these "Gnostic" sources and the Montanist logia, and the nature of second-century prophetic discourse. In Thunder, and particularly in Trimorphic Protennoia, we find a repeated emphasis on speech or word. Similarly, Maximilla's defiant proclamation, "I am word and spirit and power," does something rather more than defend her against those who accuse her of being a wolf among lambs; she follows an ancient prophetic tradition. The triad she invokes, [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]I, we know from other sources, including Simon Magus's Apophasis Megale; we find similar language in 1 Cor 2:4: [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (38) Whether or not we find this convincing, the use of [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] forms is well attested throughout the Septuagint, as Eduard Schweizer demonstrated as long ago as 1939. (39) Indeed, the best parallels for both the prophetic proclamations contained in Thunder and Trimorphic Protennoia as well as the self-commendations of the Montanists lie in the sapiential writings in the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly in the proclamations of Wisdom in Wisdom 6-8, or Proverbs 8. (40)

In recent years, a sensitivity to the rich Nachleben of Septuagintal sapiential traditions in Christian literature has helped displace scholars' earlier conviction that the Gospel of John had provided the source for the aretalogical discourses in both Montanist oracles and, in particular, Trimorphic Protennoia. In an incisive study, Ronald Heine laid to rest prior hypotheses of Montanist dependence on John. (41) Meanwhile, within the world of Nag Hammadi studies, George W. MacRae broke a source-critical stalemate; rather than trying to solve the frustrating puzzle of the obvious textual relationship between Trimorphic Protennoia and the Fourth Gospel, he suggested that it might be more illuminating to investigate the manner in which both texts drew upon earlier Wisdom traditions. (42) Following the lead of0 Heine and MacRae, then, we need to look beyond the hypothesis of Johannine influence for both sets of texts to uncover the Wisdom theologies that appear to have undergirded them. Maximilla's proclamation that she is [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] likely draws upon Wis 1:6 and 7:7, in which Wisdom is equated with the Holy Spirit; in a similar manner, Thund. 18:15-17 and Trim. Prot. 38:11 may invoke Wis 7:25 and 7:26, where we find Wisdom described as the "breath of the power of God" (7:25) and as an emanation of glory (7:26). Beyond the remarkable similarity in language and imagery between our texts and the Wisdom of Solomon, other sapiential texts provide convincing sources for--or at least, remarkable similarities to--both Montanist logia and our two Nag Hammadi tractates. Recently, John Poirier has convincingly traced Maximilla's theme of the descent of Wisdom into the New Jerusalem to Sirach 24. (43) Meanwhile, Roelof van den Broek, in an important article on the influence of Jewish Wisdom traditions on the long recension of Nag Hammadi's Apocryphon of John and Trimorphic Protennoia, traces the threefold descent of Protennoia/Wisdom in these texts to 1 Enoch 42. (44)

The shared use of aretalogical discourses in both Montanist oracles and these two tractates from Nag Hammadi indicates three things. First, Christians of the second century appear to have drawn their use of "I am" sayings from Wisdom's proclamations in the LXX and Jewish sapiential discourse more generally, recasting these traditions into a new, explicitly soteriological form of proclamation. Second, the Montanists drew upon a tradition common in many strands of early Christianity--evident also in Trimorphic Protennoia--in which the savior is manifest through a human representative, whether in the form of the Holy Spirit, of Christ, or of Wisdom. Third, although these sayings were interpreted by their opponents as grandiose, blasphemous proclamations, those uttering them more likely understood themselves as surrendering their own, human authority to the greater authority of a divine revealer which used them as an instrument or mouthpiece. The prophetic dimensions (and implications) of this we shall investigate presently.

Modern methodologies, such as form criticism and literary criticism, have allowed us to become more sensitive to language, particularly when set down into a structured, literary tractate. Yet a purely literary analysis of the aretalogical form can obscure the social dimensions of "I am" sayings within the context of a religious community. Following the lead of Hebrew Bible specialists, scholars of Gnosticism have focused on Wisdom as the hypostasized figure of Sophia, particularly within the Nag Hammadi corpus. (45) But if we interpret sapiential traditions hypostatically, rather than incarnationally, we may lose sight of a vital aspect of their impact within the communities in which these texts and traditions were developed and transmitted. To consider these texts incarnationally--that is, to consider the manner in which prophets (and their communities) believed themselves to contain an indwelling Sophia who spoke her proclamations through them--would allow us to consider a different set of questions: not just how early Christians interpreted the divine, but in what form, and through what type of authority Wisdom visited and spoke from within early Christian communities. Fortunately, the texts themselves provide a brief glimpse into sapiential prophecy alive within a community at that time.

Christ in the Form of a Woman?

One of the most startling and provocative of the extant Montanist oracles is from Epiphanius, who could not say whether the saying originated with Priscilla or Quintilla:

Christ came to me in the form of a woman ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN

ASCII]) garbed in a bright garment ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN


and revealed to me that this place is holy. (46)

Anne Jensen's claim that this logion has "no direct parallel in early Christian literature" is not precisely correct, as R. M. Grant and others have demonstrated. (47) The motif of the luminous woman certainly appears in Jewish Christian literature of the Roman Empire. In Revelation 12, for instance, the Church in the form of a woman clothed with the sun appears to John of Patmos. (48) We find a similar motif in other Jewish apocalyptic writings, particularly 4 Ezra 9, in which Ezra witnesses the transformation of the mourning woman into one with a shining face and a "countenance like lightning" before Jerusalem is revealed. We can also find parallels from the testimonies of so-called Gnostics readily enough. Hippolytus reports that the Valentinians connected Wisdom (in this case, hypostasized Sophia) with the heavenly Jerusalem; (49) the Naassenes, similarly, give "the Jerusalem above" the title of Eve, the "mother of the living." (50) According to Irenaeus, Ptolemy equated the Mother with Sophia, Earth, Jerusalem, Holy Spirit, "and, with a masculine reference, Lord"; (51) Irenaeus also reports that the Valentinian teacher Marcus claimed that the highest Tetrad revealed itself to him "in the form of a woman" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (52)

I suggest that we can find our most striking parallel for Quintilla's oracle in Trimorphic Protennoia, in which Protennoia (as divine Voice) recounts her descent to teach her children "in the likeness of a woman":

Now I have come the second time in the likeness of a woman ([GREEK TEXT NOT

REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and have spoken with them. And I shall tell them of

the coming end of the Aeon and teach them of the beginning of the Aeon to

come, the one without change, the one in which our appearance will be

changed. (Trim. Prot. 42:18-23)

Apparently, the continuing vibrancy of Wisdom traditions within new Christian contexts provided traditional vocabulary for divine revelation; the figure of a hypostasized, even embodied, Wisdom influenced both Quintilla and the unknown author of Trimorphic Protennoia. Of particular interest here is the depth of the parallels between the Montanist oracle and Trimorphic Protennoia: not only does Protennoia descend "in the form of a woman" as Christ came to the prophetess in female form, but in both cases the content of the revealed knowledge is eschatological--a point to which I will return below. (53)

Although he neglected to note the relevance of Wisdom traditions, it was Karlfried Froehlich who first observed that Quintilla articulated her vision in language drawn from prophetic writings in the Septuagint, particularly the curious expression [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which evokes the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of Num 23:5, 16 and Deut 11:18, or [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] of Isa 37:7 and 51:53. (54) More recently, scholars of Montanism have investigated the sapiential dimensions of Quintilla's prophetic vision. (55) According to Anne Jensen, we do the greatest justice to the prophetess when we recognize her status "not as an ecstatic but as a teacher of wisdom." (56) In the case of Trimorphic Protennoia, it remains an intriguing possibility that Protennoia's descent "in the form of a woman" is meant to describe a teacher's authoritative teaching to a community. (57) Indeed, one has to wonder if this revelatory discourse, replete with divine feminine imagery, might not have been more appropriately delivered by a woman leader of a community than by a male prophet. There is certainly no way we can be sure of this, but given the numerous accounts of female prophetic activity in the second century we must consider this as plausible, if not likely. The startling evidence of Quintilla's experience demonstrates, indeed, that Wisdom imagery was actively employed by women visionaries to articulate their own experiences. (58)

When we consider Quintilla's oracle alongside Protennoia's descent into a woman in Trimorphic Protennoia, we may make several observations. First, women prophets appear to have articulated their divine revelations as embodiments of a descended Wisdom. This experience of embodying Wisdom provided the authoritative ground from which these women prophesied, but also taught. Second, the content of at least some of this prophetic teaching, given our extant information, concerned the nature of the eschaton. Third, in the cases of Quintilla's oracle and Trimorphic Protennoia, the proclamations of Wisdom are mediated not only through human agents but also through the intercession of Christ, who comes eventually in Christian theology to replace the female Wisdom with an explicitly, unambiguously male divine agency. (59) In the case of both these sources, we appear to have an early form of Christian wisdom theology closely aligned with Jewish sapiential traditions, in which Christ is recognized as an embodiment of Wisdom but has not yet eclipsed the traditional construction of Wisdom as female.

The Nature of Prophecy

Scholars agree that the New Prophecy can be characterized by its emphasis on prophecy, but they have not reached a consensus regarding the nature of that prophecy. (60) Debates have centered around whether or not the Montanists were carried away by the Spirit ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and prophesied in a state of ecstasy--originally a heresiological claim. (61) One of our earliest attestations of Montanist prophecy reports women talking "incomprehensibly, inopportunely, and strangely ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])." (62) If indeed we are speaking of glossolalia (Eusebius's anonymous source actually refers to Montanist speech as [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), (63) the Montanists, like some of the communities which penned and employed writings from Nag Hammadi, could claim a Pauline pedigree bolstered by Paul's acknowledgment that ecstatic prophecy was popular in the Christian community at Corinth. (64) As Christine Trevett has shown, glossolalia was common in the early prophetic discourse of Asia Minor; (65) the Montanists were certainly not alone in using it, nor did they receive their status as heretical purely from their practice of prophesying in ecstasy. To return to our Nag Hammadi treatises, we do find strings of unintelligible or nonsensical vowels there, although scholars tend to term these voces magicae (therefore with precedents in Greco-Roman magic) rather than glossolalia. (66) One such utterance in Trimorphic Protennoia is perhaps best understood as a prayer or hymnic utterance of a community: "Therefore we glorify thee: MA MO O O O EIA EI ON EI!" (38:29).

On the other hand, our extant Montanist oracles are neither nonsensical nor obtuse, confounding the heresiological insinuation that Montanist prophecy was mere nonsense speech. We are left, then, to ponder a question: If these oracles either define or conform to a genre we term "prophecy" or "prophetic discourse," and were acknowledged in antiquity as such, what then are the defining characteristics of that genre? David E. Aune defines a prophecy, or an oracle, as "a written or oral message from a god, occasionally encoded, mediated by a human spokesperson." (67) It is a form of "social communication," usually "secured through distinctive forms of behaviour (possession or trance), and/or a verbal claim that the forthcoming (or preceding) message has a supernatural origin." (68) These criteria ably characterize the form of Montanist prophecy, as well as of our two NHL tractates--although, in the case of these latter texts, we have no data to indicate whether or not they were expressed during a trance state. If we consider content as well as form, then we note that the Montanist oracles contain eschatological statements ("After me there will be no more prophets; it will be the culmination"), theological proclamations ("I am word and spirit and power"), subtle jeremiads or polemics ("I am not a wolf among sheep"), and claims of authority through divine inspiration or indwelling of the Spirit ("Christ revealed himself to me ... and threw Wisdom into me"). These characteristics describe with equal accuracy the content and flavor of both Trimorphic Protennoia and Thunder: Perfect Mind.

While scholars of Gnosticism conventionally and consistently define Trimorphic Protennoia and Thunder: Perfect Mind as "revelatory discourses," the content of these discourses is also distinctly prophetic in nature. In fact, Trimorphic Protennoia's aretalogical passages and Thunder: Perfect Mind might easily qualify as oracular literature; they are statements considered by a community to be inspired and contain first-person monologues that would have been "delivered" or spoken by a member of that community, presumably within a liturgical or catechetical context. Again, we find a significant overlap between our Nag Hammadi writings and the Montanist logia: a marked emphasis on word, speech, and hearing in both sets of documents, the themes of divine speech or call, and the claim to a divine authority. Like the cry of Wisdom outside the gates in Proverbs 8, all of these sources exude an almost plaintive plea to be heard: "you hearers, hear me!" calls out the anonymous divine locutrix of Thunder: Perfect Mind (13:8). She is the one who "cries out" (19:28, 35), but as the "speech that cannot be grasped." She is a "mute who does not speak" yet "great is the multitude of [her] words" (19:22-25). Protennoia in Trimorphic Protennoia is "the voice speaking softly" and "the hidden voice" which "dwells within." She describes herself:

It is I who am laden with the Voice. It is through me that Gnosis comes

forth ... I am perception and knowledge, uttering a voice by means of

thought ... I am the real voice. I cry out in everyone, and they recognize

it, since a seed indwells [them]. I am the Thought of the Father and

through me proceeded [the] Voice, that is, the knowledge of the everlasting

things. (36:9-19, trans. Turner)

Christine Trevett, writing on Montanist prophecy, observes that members of the New Prophecy "taught, expounded and expanded the [Jewish] tradition, declared things to come, convicted hearers of wrongdoing or compromise, and stressed the need to bear witness." (69) Trimorphic Protennoia and Thunder: Perfect Mind performed precisely these same functions for a community. Note, for instance, the opening words of Thunder:

It is from the Power that I was sent, And it is to those who reflect upon

me that I have come And I was found among those who seek after me Look at

me, you who reflect upon me; And you hearers, hear me! (Thund. 13:1-8)

These passages, spoken and recorded by members of a community, lessen the distance from Maximilla's prophetic protestation: "Hear not me, but hear Christ in me!" ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (70) In both cases, the plural imperatives draw in a community or congregation, assuring their salvation not through gnosis, but through audition.

If we persist in categorizing our sources conventionally, perceiving Montanist logia as a compilation of oral sources and Nag Hammadi tractates as a compilation of literary material, we do not allow ourselves room to explore the manner in which this literary material would have been heard by a community. To characterize Thunder as a "poem," for example, masks its impact on a religious community when recited aloud and considered a sacred, authoritative text. To be preoccupied with literary-critical questions also obscures the question of the speaker or "mouthpiece" for this material; would not the reader in the community be considered a transmitter of sacred revelation--a prophet in every sense of the word? In place of the more conventional designation of Thunder as a poem, I offer that we might consider it instead as a song, or a type of hymn for a liturgical context that nonetheless functioned prophetically to articulate a position of defiance in relation to other communities with alternative paradigms for the divine. (71) Aune's work on prophecy, particularly in the Odes of Solomon, has emphasized the centrality of prophetic hymns in early Christian worship. (72)

Let me make a final point regarding the intersection between prophecy and Wisdom literature. As John C. Poirier has remarked, Montanists most likely were attracted to sapiential traditions because they justified their emphasis on prophecy through the motif of Wisdom's residence among humanity. (73) He notes, "wisdom was widely associated with the prophetic spirit." (74) Indeed, Wis 2:27 makes the connection explicit: "In every generation [Wisdom] passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets." This idea, already present in Hellenistic Judaism, evidently made inroads into Christian communities which sought scriptural justification and inspiration for prophetic activity beyond (and perhaps entirely apart from) the encouragement of Paul in 1 Corinthians. This was recognized by, among others, Hippolytus, who insinuates that members of the New Prophecy received their prophetic calling illegitimately, unlike those earlier prophets who were "correctly endowed with wisdom ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) through the word." (75)


For over a century, scholars as prominent as T. D. Barnes have followed Harnack, persistently characterizing Montanism as fervently eschatological. (76) This perception percolated into more general studies of apocalypticism, including Norman Cohn's influential The Pursuit of the Millennium (1957). Trevett, however, has recently effectively laid this perception to rest. "In fact," she observes, "there is less evidence for Montanist eschatology than one might expect." (77) The evidence for apocalypticism in the New Prophecy rests on a single oracle of Maximilla: "After me there will be no more prophets; it will instead be the culmination ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])." (78) The Montanists may have adopted the term [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] from the parable of the seed in Matthew 24, in which the harvest occurs at the end of time. (79) A later Montanist source, the fourth-century Dialogue between a Montanist and an Orthodox, also records an ambiguously eschatological statement: "Montanus the Paraclete has come and given to us the culmination ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])." (80)

We encounter the terms [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in a wide variety of so-called Gnostic sources, including repeated use of the term [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in writings as diverse as the Pistis Sophia and the Valentinian Gospel of Truth. In Trimorphic Protennoia we find the related term [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] on numerous occasions, to refer to Protennoia incarnated as the Christ (38:17, 22; 39:12; see also 47:9, where Voice resides within the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the same "Perfect Mind" we find in the title of Thunder: Perfect Mind). Strikingly, we also find in Trimorphic Protennoia the more unusual term [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] used three times to describe the eschatological dimensions of Protennoia's revelations: "And the culmination ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of this particular Aeon and of the evil life [has approached and there dawns] the beginning of the Aeon to come, which has no change forever" (44:33-45:2). Twice Protennoia herself uses the expression in an aretalogical passage. One passage retains the term in the original Greek: "The second time I came in the sound ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of my voice; I gave form ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) to those who received form ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) till their fulfillment ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])" (47:11-13). In a second, earlier passage we find the word translated into the Coptic: "I am the fulfillment ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of the All, that is, Meirothea, the glory of the Mother. I cast voiced speech ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) into the ears of those who know me" (45:9-12). Protennoia's prophetic activity of throwing or casting speech ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) out toward her listeners reminds us of the female Christ throwing or casting (Greek: [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) Wisdom into the prophetess.

Since Wisdom in the Montanist oracle reveals to the prophetess the location of the new Jerusalem, scholars have also interpreted the descent of Wisdom in Quintilla's vision as an eschatological motif. In his recent article, Poirier has traced this motif convincingly to Sirach 24. We find a similar apocalypticism in Trimorphic Protennoia's descent of Wisdom; Wisdom comes "in the form of a woman" (42:18-19) to teach about the coming end of the Aeon, the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], in which "our appearance will be changed" (42:23). Here, though, our closest scriptural reference appears to be Paul's teaching on the eschaton in 1 Cor 15:52, where the apostle exhorts, "we will be changed ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])." Strikingly, both these passages actually reflect a type of realized eschatology. If Pepuza had already been known as the New Jerusalem, Quintilla's acknowledgment of this fact emphasized that the heavenly Jerusalem was already present for those who were spiritually aware. In an article on the later Montanists, Douglas Powell notes:

We have here an eschatology radically different from the apocalyptic

futurism usually ascribed to the Montanists -- an eschatology largely

realised in a present spiritual experience. (81)

Powell's observation accords nicely with the tenor of both Thunder and, particularly Trimorphic Protennoia, in which Protennoia descends to teach her own about the [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]: "I have come the second time in the likeness of a woman and have spoken with them. And I shall tell them of the coming end of the Aeon, and teach them of the beginning of the Aeon to come, the one in which our appearance will be changed" (42:15-22). The next passage, now heavily lacunate, continues with a sort of eschatological timetabling: "The birth beckons: [hour] begets hour, [day begets day]. The months made known the [month. Time] has [gone round] succeeding [time]" (42:30-33). Yet as provocatively eschatological as this sounds, the emphasis of this section is not on a future apocalypse. Rather, the substance of Protennoia's teaching was that the cosmos had already been profoundly altered:

Then when the great authorities knew that the time of fulfillment ([GREEK

TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) had appeared--just as in the pangs of the

parturient it had drawn near, so also had the destruction approached--all

together the elements trembled, and the foundations of Amente and the

ceilings of Chaos shook and a great conflagration burned in their midst,

and the rocks and the earth were shaken like a reed shaken by the wind, and

the lots ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of Heimarmene and those

who apportion the planetary houses ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])

were greatly disturbed since they were overturned, and their king was

frightened. (43:4-17)

Although a final eschaton might still await them, the point of the tractate was to teach a community that they were no longer in spiritual bondage; Protennoia had herself altered the structure of the cosmos and its astrological ordinations. What we appear to have both in the Montanist oracle and in Trimorphic Protennoia, then, are prophetic teachings with a significant realized eschatology. They celebrate the gathering of a new prophetic community loosed from the celestial tyranny which bound their contemporaries in their ignorance, a community that had been gathered and guided into a new, inaugural age by Wisdom herself.


This paper has provided a brief reexamination of the historiographical tenet that Montanism stood in direct opposition to "Gnosticism." Our findings here suggest that if the Montanist logia were anti-anything, they were anti-Marcionite, not anti-Gnostic, speaking to the need to adhere to paradigms of prophetic activity inherited from Judaism. On the other side of the equation, if we remove the inaccurate label "Gnostic" that has been applied to certain texts from Nag Hammadi, then our academic responsibility requires us to reclassify these writings more thoughtfully. The Thunder: Perfect Mind and Trimorphic Protennoia are not Gnostic texts, but early Christian texts that bear strong traces of vibrant Jewish sapiential traditions.

My intention here has not been to suggest that Trimorphic Protennoia and Thunder: Perfect Mind are Montanist texts--or even to prove that Montanists would have read them, or even have known about them--but to emphasize the need to reinvestigate the modern, arbitrary lines we have previously drawn between one group and another, lines that prevent us from appreciating how one early Christian group may have accommodated texts from other, earlier traditions. With regard to second-century Montanism, D. Powell's comment is well taken: "We must ask more carefully `where, when and by whom?' even if thereby we see disappearing, one after another, the more popular criteria for distinguishing Montanism from non-Montanism." (82) We also know that a fundamental component of the marginalization and rejection of the New Prophecy derived from their conviction that prophecy was ongoing, along with the revelation of new texts from new sources, which they then incorporated into their canon. Certainly our "Gnostic" texts would have been welcomed within a community open to revelations from relatively new sources--certainly more recent than traditional prophetic texts of the Jewish scriptures. Our Nag Hammadi texts provide enough points of contact (such as a realized eschatology built upon a scaffolding of sapientialism and prophetic calls to hear, to judge, and to teach) to have supported Montanist theology, including its understanding of Jewish scripture and of Paul. The voluminous Montanist canon was committed to the fire of the post-Constantinian era, sealing forever our knowledge of what was vibrant to their community. (83) But, it was in this same period that most of our "Gnostic" texts were also burnt. Yet some of these texts were gathered together, away from the communities who had used them, and carefully copied, translated, and spirited away by the monastic communities that lined the steep wadis of Nag Hammadi.


(1) Hippolytus, Haer. 8.19 (ed. Marcovich, 338).

(2) Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.20.3 (SC 41:120); Didymus, Trin. 3.41 (PG 39:84); and later, Jerome, Ep. 41("Ad Marcellam"); Pacian of Barcelona, Ep. 1 ad Syrup. 2.

(3) Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.20.3 (SC 41:120); see also 5.18.5 in which Apollonius reports that the Montanist Themiso composed a new "catholic" epistle. In 5.16.17 Eusebius's anonymous source refers to "a work according to Asterius Urbanus" to introduce an oracle.

(4) Hippolytus, Haer. 8.19; see also Epiphanius, Pan. 48.7 on the Montanists' mistaken theological interpretations of the scriptures.

(5) See Epiphanius, Pan. 48.7 and Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 5.17.3 on the Montanist use of the Hebrew Scriptures, including Gen 2:21, Num 12:7, Isa 1:2 and 6:1, and Ezek 4:8-12--all passages that justify ecstatic prophecy. The Christian canon was not yet fixed before the fourth century, making the categories of "canonical" versus "non-canonical" unhelpful here. Christine Trevett, Montanism: Gender, Authority and the New Prophecy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) 132, suggests that the Montanists most likely knew and used the popular Shepherd of Hermas--part of many early canons although rejected as too recent a composition by the Muratorian Canon--as well as the non-canonical Apocalypse of Peter.

(6) Compare, for instance, Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 5.16.12 with Matt 23:34. The Anonymous also quotes Matt 7:15; Apollonius quotes Matt 10:9-10 and 12:33.

(7) An overview of the subject can be found in F. E. Vokes, "The Use of Scripture in the Montanist Controversy," in Studia Evangelica: Papers Presented to the International Congress of the Four Gospels in 1957 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1959) 317-20. For a refutation of the widely-held assumption that the Montanists drew upon the Gospel of John to assert that Montanus was the Paraclete, see Ronald E. Heine, "The Role of the Gospel of John in the Montanist Controversy," SecCent 6 (1987) 1-19. See also Trevett, Montanism, 129-31, who remains uncommitted as to whether or not the Montanists used the Fourth Gospel, but who emphasizes the importance of Paul.

(8) Trevett, Montanism, 130ff. The argument for the primacy of Revelation in Montanist circles was first made by Hans von Campenhausen in Ecclesiastical Authority and Spiritual Power (trans. J. A. Baker; Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1969) 47-48; see also W. M. Calder, "Philadelphia and Montanism," BJRL 7 (1923) 309-54.

(9) he Thunder: Perfect Mind and Trimorphic Protennoia remain anonymous, undated, unattributed texts. For critical editions, see Paul-Hubert Poirier and Wolf-Peter Funk, Le tonnerre, intellect parfait (NH VI, 2) (BCNH 22; Laval: Les presses de l'universite Laval, 1995). For critical editions of the Trimorphic Protennoia, see Gesine Schenke, Die dreigestaltige Protennoia (Nag Hammadi Codex XIII) (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1984); Yvonne Janssens, La Protennoia Trimorphe (NHC XIII,1) (Laval: Les presses de l'universite Laval, 1978); and John Turner, "The Trimorphic Protennoia," in Nag Hammadi Codices XI, XII, XIII (ed. Charles Hedrick; The Coptic Gnostic Library, NHMS 28; Leiden: Brill, 1990).

(10) Poirier, Tonnerre, 171 describes the Thunder as deriving from either a Jewish milieu or one "du moins familier des realities religieuses juives" until the Jewish content had become "marginal," that is, replaced by a more eclectic spirit of Hellenistic or even early Christian syncretism.

(11) I follow here the dating proposed by Christine Trevett, Montanism, 26-45. Trevett suggests that the social instabilities of the 160s may have been a more likely time for a new apocalyptic movement to take shape than the period around 172 C.E., the traditional "starting date" for the movement based on the accounts of Eusebius and Epiphanius. For the later date, see W. H. C. Frend, "A Note on the Chronology of the Martyrdom of Polycarp and the Outbreak of Montanism," in Oikumene, studi paleocristiani pubblicati in onore del Concilio ecumenico vaticano II (ed. J. Courcelle; Catania: Centro di studi sull'antico cristianesimo, 1964) 499-506; G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, "The Date of the Outbreak of Montanism [156 or 172 AD]," JEH 5 (1954) 7-15; T. D. Barnes, "The Chronology of Montanism," JTS 21 (1970) 403-08.

(12) Tertullian, Val. 5.1 (ed. Marastoni, 57).

(13) Michael Williams, Rethinking Gnosticism: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

(14) Hippolytus, Haer. 8.19 (ed. Marcovich, 338).

(15) Tertullian, Mon. 1 (LS 28-29). See also Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 4.13.93, who criticizes Montanists and Valentinians for using the term [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to refer to outsiders.

(16) For the collections of oracles, see Pierre de Labriolle, Les sources de l'histoire du montanisme: textes grecs, latins, syriaques publies avec une introduction critique, une traduction francaise, des notes et des "indices" (Paris: E. Leroux, 1913); Kurt Aland, "Bemerkungen zum Montanismus und zur fruhchristlichen Eschatologie," in Kirchengeschichtliche Entwurfe (Gutersloh: Gutersloher Verlagshaus, 1960) 143-48; Ronald E. Heine, ed., The Montanist Oracles and Testimonia (Patristic Monograph Series 14; Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1989). From the second century, we have extant two logia attributed to Prisca, one to Maximilla, and three anonymous logia.

(17) The arguments have been collected and stated most elegantly by Williams, Rethinking Gnosticism. See also Robert McL. Wilson, "Slippery Words: II. Gnosis, Gnostic, Gnosticism," ExpTim 89 (1977-78) 296-301; Wilfrid Cantwell Smith, "Terminological Boobytraps," in Traditions in Contact and Change: Selected Proceedings of the XIVth Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions (ed. Peter Slater et al.; Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1983) 306, comments on the "verbal inanities" of discussing as "gnosticism" a movement composed of people who never called themselves "gnostics."

(18) Karlfried Froehlich, "Montanism and Gnosis," OrChrAn 195 (1973) 94.

(19) Adolf Harnack, "Montanism," Encyclopedia Britannica 16 (1889) 774.; Ferdinand C. Baur, Das Christentum und die christliche Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte (Tubingen: Fues, 1853) 213-41; Albrecht Ritschl, Die Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche (Bonn: A. Marcus, 1857); see also Jean Danielou and Henri Marrou, The First Six Hundred Years (trans. Vincent Cronin; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964); J. Lortz, Geschichte der Kirche in ideengeschichtlicher Betrachtung (Munster: Aschendorff, 1962-64).

(20) Augustus Neander, Antignostikus (trans. J. E. Ryland; London: Henry G. Bond, 1851-59).

(21) Hans von Schubert, Grundzuge der Kirchengeschichte (ed. E. Dinkler; 11th ed.; 1950) 39ff.

(22) Froehlich, "Montanism and Gnosis," 95.

(23) Ibid.

(24) Trevett, Montanism, 10.

(25) Ibid., 11. Trevett is supported here by other specialists on Montanism. See William Tabbernee, "The Opposition to Montanism from Church and State" (Ph.D. diss., University of Melbourne, 1978) 558; and D. H. Williams, "The Origins of the Montanist Movement: A Sociological Analysis," Religion 19 (1989) 331.

(26) Trevett, Montanism, 39, 135, 163.

(27) Ibid., 61.

(28) Ibid., 2.

(29) "The Lord sent ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) me to be partisan, informer, interpreter of this task, and of the covenant ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and of the pronouncement ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]); compelled ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), willingly or unwillingly, to learn the knowledge of God ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])" (Epiphanius, Pan. 48.13.1 [GCS 31:237]). Trevett interprets Maximilla's use of the term "gnosis" as a Montanist usurpation of Gnostic language against Gnostics themselves. In the case of both, however, I suggest that the language clearly derives from Paul, who uses both the words [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1 Cor 7:26; 2 Cor 6:4; 12:10; see also 2 Pet 1:2, 6, 8).

(30) Francoise Blanchetiere, "Le Montanisme originel," RScR 53 (1979) 19.

(31) Froehlich, "Montanism and Gnosis," 109.

(32) Origen, Cels. 7.9. The content of this discourse was often eschatological, warning of the coming of the Eschaton. This eschatological message would be followed by extravagant displays of ecstatic utterances and glossolalia.

(33) See Clifford S. Hill, Prophecy, Past and Present: An Exploration of the Prophetic Ministry in the Bible and the Church Today (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Vine, 1991); G. F. Hawthorne, "The Role of Christian Prophets in the Tradition," in Tradition and Interpretation in the New Testament (ed. G. F. Hawthorne and U. Betz; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987) 119-33.

(34) Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 5.14.1 (SC 41:45). Heine, "The Role of the Gospel of John," 17-19, gives convincing reasons to doubt the authenticity of this oracle: it appears only in late documents and reports concerning the oracle are inconsistent, with certain versions replacing "Holy Spirit" with the more troublesome "Paraclete"; all of these accounts, at any rate, postdate the Trinitarian debates of the fourth century.

(35) Froehlich, "Montanism and Gnosis," 99.

(36) Irenaeus, Haer. 1.16.1.

(37) Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 5.16.17 (SC 41:51) from an anonymous source, possibly second century. See Pierre de Labriolle, La crise montaniste (Paris: E. Leroux, 1913) 9.

(38) Dennis Groh, "Utterance and Exegesis: Biblical Exegesis in Montanist Crisis," in The Living Text: Essays in Honor of Ernest W. Saunders (ed. D. E. Groh and R. Jewett; Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1985) 78. Others have suggested, unconvincingly, that John 6:63 ("the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life") stands behind the logion; more convincing is 1 Thess 1:5: "for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." While Paul in 1 Cor 2:4 appears to scorn Wisdom as a prophetic source, he returns a few lines later to clarify his position; for the initiated, he speaks in hidden language: "We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory." One is tempted to wonder whether in Maximilla's claim to speak to her detractors openly as spirit and power, she intended to point those in her community toward the sure knowledge that to her own, Wisdom also spoke through her.

(39) Eduard Schweizer, Ego eimi: Die religionsgeschichtliche Herkunft und theologische Bedeutung des johannischen Bildreden, zugleich ein Beitrag zur Quellenfrage des vierten Evangeliums (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1939).

(40) See also Wis 6-10; 1 En. 42; Sir 23. On Wisdom in Nag Hammadi texts in general, see Carsten Colpe, "Heidnische, judische und christliche Uberlieferung in den Schriften aus Nag Hammadi III," JAC 17 (1974) 107-25; Anne McGuire, "Women, Gender, and `Gnostic' Traditions," in Women and Christian Origins, (ed. Ross Kraemer and Mary Rose d'Angelo; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999) 282. For Wisdom traditions in Trimorphic Protennoia, see Craig Evans, "On the Prologue of John and the Trimorphic Protennoia," NTS 27 (1981) 399; Roelof van den Broek, "Von der judischen Weisheit zum gnostischen Erloser: zum Schlu[beta]hymnus des Apokryphons des Johannes," in Studies in Gnosticism and Alexandrian Christianity (Leiden: Brill, 1996) 86-117.

(41) Heine, "The Role of the Gospel of John," 1-19.

(42) See George W. MacRae, "Gnosticism and the Church of John's Gospel," in Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and Early Christianity (ed. Charles Hedrick and Robert Hodgson, Jr.; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1986) 95-96.

(43) John C. Poirier, "Montanist Pepuza-Jerusalem and the Dwelling Place of Wisdom," JECS 7 (1999) 491-507.

(44) Van den Broek, "Von der judischen Weisheit," 86-117.

(45) See, for instance, George W. MacRae, "The Jewish Background of the Gnostic Sophia Myth," NovT 12 (1970) 86-101; George Christopher Stead, "The Valentinian Myth of Sophia," JTS 20 (1969) 75-104; Pheme Perkins, "Sophia as Goddess in the Nag Hammadi Codices," in Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism (ed. Karen King; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988); Karen King, "Sophia and Christ in the Apocryphon of John," in Images, 158-76; James Goehring, "A Classical Influence on the Gnostic Sophia Myth," VC 35 (1981) 16-23.

(46) Epiphanius, Pan. 49.1.3 (GCS 31:242). The place in question was Pepuza in Asia Minor, which Quintiila identifies here as the New Jerusalem; see Poirier, "Montanist Pepuza-Jerusalem." Trevett (Montanism, 98) suggests that the Montanist Christophany actually dates from Quintilla in the third century, rather than from Priscilla in the second.

(47) Anne Jensen, God's Self-Confident Daughters: Early Christianity and the Liberation of Women (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1966) 164; R. M. Grant, Greek Apologists of the Second Century (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1988) 87-88; Trevett, Montanism, 168-70; William Tabbernee, "Revelations 21 and the Montanist `New Jerusalem,' "ABR 37 (1989) 55.

(48) See also Herm. Vis. 2.4.1; 2.1,1-4.

(49) Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. 1.5.3 (ed. Brox, 1:158); see also Hippolytus, Haer. 6.30.9.

(50) Hippolytus, Haer. 5.7.39 (Marcovich, 153-54).

(51) Irenaeus, Haer. 1.5.3 (Brox 1:158).

(52) Ibid., 1.14.1.

(53) The Coptic [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] translates, usually, the Greek [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which itself has eschatological resonances, but it is not clear whether this word may have translated the idea of the Montanist text; it is clear, however, that it does not translate the "image" of a woman, for which the Coptic texts tend merely to transliterate the Greek [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. It is most likely here, then, that the text means to say that Pronoia's descent is in bodily or incarnational form--"in the form of a [human] woman rather than a [divine] female."

(54) Froehlich, "Montanism and Gnosis," 98.

(55) So, for instance, Trevett, Montanism, 169; Jensen, God's Self-Confident Daughters, 164, 297 n. 239; Gail Corrington Steele, "Women as Sources of Redemption and Knowledge in Early Christian Tradition," in Women and Christian Origins (ed. Ross Kraemer and Mary-Rose D'Angelo; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) 344; Poirier, "Montanist Pepuza-Jerusalem," 491-507, esp. 498.

(56) Jensen, God's Self-Confident Daughters, 164.

(57) In her critical edition of the Trimorphic Protennoia, Yvonne Janssens identifies Protennoia's second descent "in the form of a woman" as referring to Wisdom being hidden within Eve. While this is an intriguing and plausible possibility, it fails to explain two things. First, why does Protennoia explicitly come to teach/prophesy, when Eve does not? Second, why the marked emphasis on speech and voice: "the second time, I came in the sound of my voice" (Trim. Prot. 47:11-12)? This, it seems to me, is more indicative of prophetic activity and commendation than any second-century interpretations of Eve.

(58) Remarkably, Nag Hammadi scholars have consistently failed to remark on the sociological significance of Protennoia's descent into the "form of a woman," probably because of the ambiguity inherent in the Coptic word [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which can be translated either as "female" or "woman." The critical translators of the document consistently favor the former translation, since it then allows us to understand her descent as one of countless female hypostases we find throughout the Nag Hammadi corpus, such as Protennoia, Pronoia, Sophia, Eve, or even more plausibly, the Holy Spirit, which these texts frequently render as feminine (cf. Janssens, 72: "sous l'aspect d'une femme"). At the same time, the translation "woman" becomes an intriguing possibility when we consider the phrase "in the form of a woman," since the Coptic term [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] translates the Greek [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and appears to refer to an actual physical, rather than ideal or incorporeal, form. It is also worth noting that in this incarnated form, Protennoia comes to speak to "her own," a prophetic activity which seems to describe more plausibly an inspired human teacher of wisdom and prophetess speaking to a community than a disembodied, idealized descent of the Holy Spirit into an abstract, unidentified realm.

(59) This masculinization of Wisdom can be discerned through redactional analysis of both Trimorphic Protennoia and the closely related "Pronoia Hymn" of the Apocryphon of John. In Protennoia's three descents in Trimorphic Protennoia, she comes as female in the first two (as Sound and Voice) and as the male Logos in her third, final descent. This final descent bears heavy evidence of extensive Christian redaction. In the "Pronoia Hymn", the feminine agent is both secondarily Christianized and secondarily masculinized, particularly by the manner in which the older hymnic material is placed within the framework of Christ's revelation to John.

(60) D. E. Aune, Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1983); E. E. Ellis, Prophecy and Hermeneutics in Early Christianity (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1980); W. H. C. Frend, "Montanism: A Movement of Prophecy and Regional Identity in the Early Church," BJRL 70 (1988) 25-34; Cyril G. Williams, "Ecstaticism in Hebrew Prophecy and Christian Glossolalia," SR 3 (1974) 320-38.

(61) See Eusebius's anonymous source, Hist. eccl. 5.16.7-9 and 5.17.2, which claims the women uttered strange sounds ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and with frenzied speech. Epiphanius's early source makes similar claims; see Pan. 48.5.8 and 48.3.11, where their speech is oblique ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), crooked ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and perverted. The mainstream position maintained that even the "classical" prophets of the Old Testament did not prophesy in an altered state of consciousness (Pan. 48.3.4-6; 48.10.1) and that true prophecy was characterized by clear wits, not [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Pan. 48.7.8; see also Didymus, Frag. In Ep. Ad Cor. II.5.12).

(62) Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 5.16.9 (SC 41:48).

(63) Ibid., 5.16.7 (SC 41:48).

(64) 1 Cor 6:12; 7:35; 10:33; 12:7. For Epiphanius's view, see Pan 48.3.1-2; 48.8.1. For "gnostic" use of Paul, see Elaine Pagels, "Exegesis and Exposition of Genesis Creation Accounts in Selected Texts from Nag Hammadi," in Nag Hammadi, Gnosticism and Early Christianity (ed. Charles W. Hedrick and Robert Hodgson, Jr.; Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1986) 45-56, on the way in which certain texts, such as Hypostasis of the Archons, draw upon 1 Cor 15.

(65) Trevett, Montanism, 86-91.

(66) See Patricia Cox Miller, "In Praise of Nonsense," in Classical Mediterranean Spirituality: Egyptian, Greek, Roman (ed. H. A. Armstrong; World Spirituality 15; New York: Crossroad, 1987) on Gnostic voces magicae.

(67) David E. Aune, "The Odes of Solomon and Early Christian Prophecy," NTS 28 (1982) 437.

(68) Ibid.

(69) Trevett, Montanism, 94.

(70) Epiphanius, Pan. 48.12.4 (GCS 31:235).

(71) For a parallel, see Aune, "Odes," 453, on realized eschatology in the early Christian hymns of the Odes of Solomon.

(72) Ibid.

(73) Poirier, "Montanist Pepuza-Jerusalem," 501.

(74) See also Aune, Prophecy, 144-52; John Rylaarsdam, Revelation in Jewish Wisdom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946) 113.

(75) Hippolytus, Antichr. 2.

(76) T. D. Barnes, Tertullian: A Historical and Literary Study (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971) 130-31. See Harnack, "Millennialism," Encyclopedia Britannica 15 (1945) 496; Baur, Das Christentum, 247; Bonwetsch, Montanismus, 78ff. A more recent article asserting the eschatology of the New Prophecy is D. H. Williams, "The Origins of the Montanist Movement: A Sociological Analysis" Religion 19 (1989) 331-51. Against Harnack, see Charles Hill, Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Future Hope in Early Christianity (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992). For a summary of scholarship, see Poirier, "Montanist Pepuza-Jerusalem," 493 n. 6.

(77) Trevett, Montanism, 95. Her conclusions are supported by, among others, Charles Hill, "Marriage of Montanism and Millennialism," SP 26 (1993) 142; Douglas Powell, "Tertullianists and Cataphyrgians," VC 29 (1975) 50; Jensen, God's Self-Confident Daughters, 151-52, 157-58.

(78) Epiphanius, Pan. 48.2.4 (GCS 31:222). Some manuscripts have "prophetesses" in place of "prophets" in this logion.

(79) See also Matt 13:39-49; Heb 9:26; Mark 13:4. Apocalypticism also lurks behind a statement from the fourth-century Dialogue between a Montanist and an Orthodox: "Montanus the Paraclete has come and given to us the culmination ([GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])," but this is a late source--later than the period we are considering here.

(80) Epiphanius, Pan. 48.10.3 (GCS 31:233).

(81) Powell, "Tertullianists and Cataphrygians," 46.

(82) Ibid., 41.

(83) In Vit. Const. 3.56, Eusebius mentions that the Montanists' scriptures were seized under Constantine and presumably destroyed.

Nicola Denzey Skidmore College

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