Université d'Erfurt

Maria Dell'Isola

von Mai bis November 2015 Gastkollegiatin am Max-Weber-Kolleg



“Persecuted as a Wolf among Sheeps”. Scriptures, Ecstasy, and Prophecy in the Montanist Oracles

I have been a PhD student since 2012 at Fondazione Collegio San Carlo in Modena (Italy). Thanks to a fellowship offered through the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt, I have been given the opportunity to accomplish my goal and finish to write my doctoral dissertation in this research institute as Gast-Doktorandin.

My research is focusing on the study of the Montanist oracles intended as pivotal texts for the understanding of the so called New Prophecy, both because they represent the only surviving remnants of as well as our only first-hand source on Montanist literary production, and because their contents show the most distinctive features of this prophetic movement (eschatology, apocalyptic themes, motives and beliefs, ecstasy, prophecy, asceticism, exaltation of martyrdom…). Most of all, they often make allusions to scriptural and non-scriptural passages. This central relation between Montanism and Scriptures has always been under exegetical focus, and it still keeps on rising interest, as recent publications have shown. The issue of frequency of scriptural allusions in the Montanist oracles opens up research perspectives, which should be fully exploited, and the connection between New Prophecy and canonical and non-canonical texts needs a coherent, deep-ranging and full-blown reassessment.

My research aims at reordering and classifying all the Montanist oracular texts, in order both to reach some definitive conclusions about the authenticity of the oracles themselves and to possibly extend the traditional list inserting the so-called «second-generation Montanist oracles». A close examination of all the possible scriptural allusions in these oracles – which is the main purpose of this investigation – will be then included within a discourse about the rhetorical construction of heresy in the heresiological literature, a phenomenon which consists of a series of rhetorical techniques specifically used by polemicists to discredit the opponent who ends up undergoing a kind of grotesque deformation which reduces him to a ridiculous figure without any theological credibility. The last part of the project will be devoted to contextualize the teachings of Montanus in the wider frame of some of the issues related to early Christianity, such as eschatology, apocalypticism and prophecy in order to fully re-define the spectrum of relations between Montanism and other different Christian groups and traditions.

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