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Montanists And Voluntary Martyrdom

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Chapter Summary

Traditionally, historians have portrayed Montanists as rushing recklessly to their deaths as voluntary martyrs in provocative acts of defiance against the state. Voluntary martyrdom has been seen as one of the main characteristics of the New Prophecy, distinguishing 'Montanists' from 'catholics'. In earlier publications the author had already challenged the traditional view of Montanists as invariably being fanatical voluntary martyrs in the face of persecution. This chapter, which is based on those earlier studies, sets out in more detail the evidence supporting the author's view that, on the whole, 'Montanists' and 'catholics' differed little in their theology of martyrdom and their practice of voluntary martyrdom. It commences with an analysis of the 'mainstream' Christian attitudes to voluntary martyrdom in the pre-Constantinian period and then compares that attitude with such evidence as we have concerning Montanist opinion about and practice of voluntary martyrdom.

Keywords: catholics; Montanists; New Prophecy; persecution; pre-Constantinian period; voluntary martyrdom



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