There were many Christians
in the region. The contemporary accounts of Montanism mention Christians in Ardabau on the Mysian border, as well
as in Otrus, Apamea, Cumane, Eumenea. There was a council at Synnada in the third century. Crowds came to Pepuza,
however, and contradiction was provoked.
In the very first days, Apollinarius, a successor of St. Papias as Bishop of Hierapolis, wrote against Montanus.
The great point of contention was the manner of prophesying. It was denounced as contrary to custom and to tradition.
It was urged that the phenomena were those of possession, not those of the Old Testament prophets, or of New Testament
prophets like Silas, Agabus, and the daughters of Philip the Deacon. To speak in the first person as the Father
or the Paraclete appeared blasphemous.
Some began to think that Montanus was possessed by an evil spirit, and that he was a troubler of the people; they
rebuked him and tried to stop his prophesying; the faithful of Asia assembled in many places, and examining the
prophecies declared them profane, and condemned the heresy, so that the disciples were thrust out of the Church
and its communion.
It is difficult to say how soon this excommunication took place in Asia. Probably from the beginning some bishops
excluded the followers of Montanus, and this severity was growing common before the death of Montanus; but it was
hardly a general rule much before the death of Maximilla in 179.
Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem from c.349-386, was the first to call the adherents of the movement "Montanists"
(Catech. 16.8). As far as the extant literature enables us to judge, he was also the first to record a wholly made
up charge in connection with Montanism involving little children and sacramental food. His denunciation of Montanism
appears to have been included in his curriculum for the sake of providing a relatively complete historical survey
of major heresies. He also used the story of the alleged infanticide committed by Montanus and the earliest Montanists
to explain to his catechumens how, because Montanists were also, although falsely, called Christians, Catholics
had been accused of infanticide and cannibalism during the pre-Constantinian persecutions.
If Apollinarius, or some other early opponent of Montanism, had made this charge, and if Tertullian had indeed
defended it, it seems strange that it was not repeated by any writer (especially Eusebius) before Cyril. In any
event, no other writer repeated the specific charge of cannibalistic infanticide as formulated by Cyril. Epiphanius.
In 428 or 429, St. Augustine responded somewhat reluctantly to the persistent requests made of him by Quodvultdeus,
then a deacon at Carthage, to provide an up-to-date, succinct Liber de Haeresibus (Catalogue of heresies).
In doing so, he drew heavily on an epitome of Epiphanius' Panavrion and on Filastrius' Diversarum Haereseon
Liber as well as on Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica. Most of what Augustine recounts about Montanism
in Haer. 26, his main chapter on the sect, repeats what he had already said about Montanism in earlier works (e.g.,
Agon. 28.30; C. Faust. 32.17). At least in part, Augustine's readiness to believe the worst about the Montanists'
"by-death-polluted sacraments" (sacramenta funesta) may be explained by the fact that he already
believed that the Montanists, or at least members of what he considered to be a Montanist subsect, were involved
in other sacramental irregularities. In Haer. 28 Augustine explains:
The Artotyrites are those to whom this name is given on account of oblatio. For they offer bread and cheese
saying that offerings of the fruits of earth and sheep was customary from the beginning of humankind. Epiphanius
connects them with the Pepuzians.
(Excerpted from H. Leclercq, transcribed by Herman F. Holbrook, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII, Copyright
© 1910 by Robert Appleton Company; and William Tabbernee Phillips, Theological Seminary, Tulsa, OK.)