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8354Re: Messalians

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  • Magusadeptus
    Sep 30, 2003
      Hello Terje Bergersen,

      Wow! I couldn't have asked for better information than what you have
      presented here. I knew the experts at this group could help me
      separate the wheat from the chaff, when it comes to information on
      the Gnostics, but I did not realize that a member of the Holy Order
      of Theurgists group was among them. Would you mind if I posted this
      information there also?

      Sincerely,
      Magusadeptus


      ----------------------------------------------

      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Terje Bergersen" <terje@b...>
      wrote:
      > PMCV,Magus,Mike &C...
      >
      >
      >
      > PMCV
      > > Well, Magusadeptus, you may need to clarify for us. I have heard
      the
      > > name applied to Bogimils, but I don't get the impression that
      this is
      > > what you are talking about. I know that Epihpanius talks about two
      > > different groups by that name (which he tries to draw together in
      > > some way I can't remember... but that sounds typical), but I guess
      > > niether of those groups are who you are talking about.
      >
      > With regard to Epiphanius accusations in his catalogue of heresies,
      the
      > Panarion (ach pew pew pew!) - it lists: "Wandering,cohabitation of
      males
      > and females, total renunciation of material
      posessions, "irregular"(sic!)
      > prayer and fasting, literal identification with spiritual exemplars
      and
      > persons and :argia- a refusal to work as slaves or for wages but
      choosing
      > to go begging for livelihood instead.." is curious, to say the
      least - and
      > speak nowhere of any actual doctrinal basis. I do not think he
      intended
      > all of his "sects" to be dubbed "gnostic" or understood under the
      same
      > header - well, is "Hellenism","Judaism" and "Pythagoreism" among
      others..
      > "Gnostic" or sects of "Gnosticism"?? I notice later writers
      apparently
      > believe it is.. but I shall not offend the man`s intelligence (I
      *refuse*
      > to speak of his virtues,sorry), also some stuff seems to be slurs
      directed
      > at lower level members of the more secret organizations.. like
      > cohabitation, the chief sin in the eyes of the Messalians are mutiny
      > against God through sexual relations, which makes possible the
      > introduction of demons into children who thus needs to be liberated
      > through "Fire Baptism", I am quite sure that the Greek of the
      Panarion,
      > using "Cohabitation", is highly suggestive of this being the
      arrangement,
      > while also just listing a possible feature, an Encratism of one
      kind or
      > another, among these puritans.
      >
      > That description are somewhat generic..as is typical of the time.
      >
      >
      > Another E. with probably the same agenda wrote a lot on the
      threatening
      > heresies around his parts, and especially in his own monestary - he
      is
      > among the first medieval reporters on the existence of
      the "prayerfuls"
      > (Euchites) or "prayer people" (Messalians), this E. , Euthymios of
      > Peribleptos, is source for what many scholars believes to be the
      primary
      > stages of the Bogomil movement, but this is rather skeleton
      assertions.
      > Steven Runciman as a man of Oxford integrity, bought the whole
      story as
      > well as all the theories presented after that particular E. and
      presented
      > to the world a summary of Medieval sources on the western dualist
      > movements (and assorted odds and ends quite different from these,
      > including the puritan movement of Peter Waldo (the Waldenesians))
      and
      > concluded that they must be all Manichaeans - his work, which still
      holds
      > cred with people who find it ...useful.. is also succinctly
      called "The
      > Medieval Manichee".
      >
      >
      >
      > > In any event, I am aware of no medieval groups that I would say
      are
      > > technically "Gnostic" (with the possible exception of
      the
      > > Mandaeans,
      > > but the jury is still out on that one), and I am really not
      familiar
      > > with any Messalians besides the several different groups I already
      > > mentioned. Maybe some of the other founders here know something,
      or
      > > one of our many very knowledgable members can help.
      >
      > PMCV... the Messalians are not really among the suspects of any
      > speculation, they are a name-drop in the weave of Runcimans and
      others..
      > the Hamiltons (Alaistar B.Hamilton and his wife, Janet) picked
      apart the
      > Manichaean origin theory concerning the Paulicians quite
      effectively in
      > the forword to their _Christian Dualist Heresies in the Medieval
      Byzantine
      > World_ - and gives some critical, very critical, evaluation of the
      > credence of the "primary" sources which Runciman used for his
      thesis.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Massalian or Messalian is Syriac, and means "the praying people",
      they are
      > also called Enthusiasts and Euchites (meaning "prayerfuls")
      > - they were am anti-clerical pietist sect very loosely organized,
      whose
      > actual teachings are very little known.
      > Several of the early medieval polemists against the Paulicians and
      > Bogomils mentions these while summing
      > up the heresies in different geographical areas, there is a trend or
      > tendency among those authors to first of
      > all bung every mentioned group/sect/movement into one whole, and
      also to
      > say that these originated from
      > the Manichaeans and were in fact Manichaeans with a few
      innovations. The
      > scholarships that followed some
      > few decades after Steven Runciman`s summary of these theories and
      > accertions in his "The Medieval Manichee"
      > has disputed the probability of any direct connection between
      > Manichaeanism as it is classically understood,
      > and these groups. Of all the groups mentioned by Runciman`s work,
      the
      > Messalians or "Euchites" are the least
      > probable "liason" with the Manichaeans, and even less to anything
      > "Gnostic" in the strict sense.
      > The Messalians were known to believe that from birth every man
      (human
      > being) had dwelling inside him
      > a demon, a wicked spirit (similar views exist alongside the full
      scale of
      > apocalyptic and anthropological
      > dualism - the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Damascus Document contains
      > assertions to the nature of humanity
      > having within itself two "principles" - the principle of
      righteousness and
      > the principle of unrighteousness..it
      > is far from unique with anything "Gnostic", for instance a similar
      view
      > exists concerning Man in the Orphic
      > speculations concerning the merger of Dionysius-Zagreus slain by the
      > Titans, and the ashes or remains
      > of the Titans having been struck by Zeus lightning) - baptism as
      practised
      > by the Orthodox (and presumably
      > this was also the case, in their view, with *any* baptism, also
      heterodox
      > baptism as practised by the Bogomils
      > or Cathars or their predecessors) and other sacraments of the
      established
      > traditions living alongside them,
      > has no saying over human persons who are posssessed, and the only
      thing
      > which can rid man of his indwelling
      > demon is the continuous,zealous,life-long saying of prayers, and an
      > esoteric type of baptism dubbed "baptism
      > by (or in) fire". They believed that after an extended and intense
      period
      > of penatory and purificatory prayer
      > some persons would reach a state of "passionlessness", a "clarity"
      or
      > "transparence" wherein men would
      > be incapable of thwarting God`s will and begin to show forth the
      intended
      > bounties and qualities of God`s creation,
      > the latter is significant. Presumably, the origin of the demons and
      their
      > arrangement of entering men upon conception
      > (not birth, but sexual relations) where Adam`s sin of disobeying
      God (the
      > creator) and obeying the insistance of the
      > Devil, through this fall a covenant were made between mankind and
      the
      > diabolical powers, wherein every child born
      > by such unions would become the property of the Devil. Their
      christology
      > is much in accord with late antiquity and
      > medieval "orthodox" christianities - the Son of Man accords with
      the image
      > of the jewish messiah as reinterpreted
      > in certain apocryphal literature, especially the Book of the
      Secrets of
      > Enoch - while he is also subject to a physical
      > birth, but through a virgin; which is to say, without the sexual
      union
      > which made the invasion of demons into the
      > body of the unborn child possible. Once the demon were expelled
      through
      > attaining this condition of "passionlessness",
      > the Holy Spirit could descend and dwell in the body in its place.
      It is
      > quite possible they viewed the entire human personality
      > as either the demon or a flaw depending upon the demon, and like
      some of
      > the more ecstatic religions, looked towards
      > a replacement of the human personality by way of some divinity, in
      this
      > case the divinity named "Holy Spirit".
      > Due to this doctrine of perfection by receiving the Holy Spirit and
      the
      > status ascribed to "passionlessness", the Messalians
      > who claimed this, or claimed to aspire towards such ends, were
      routinely
      > accused by the Orthodox authorities to be
      > engaged in immoral activities and being in nature entirely anti-
      nomian,
      > and anti-authoritarian. They most certainly
      > did not pay much attention to the strictures of the aforementioned
      > authorities and recognized no "Church" or
      > "Sacrament". Regardless of this, some sectarians spread these
      teachings
      > within the Orthodox monasteries,
      > similar doctrines did actually appear at Mt.Athos in the 10th and
      11th
      > century and seems to be re-emerging with a
      > political twist in the 21st.
      > Yuri Stoyanov in his "The Hidden Tradition in Europe" - theorizes
      about
      > its origination in north-eastern Mesopotamia
      > around the 4th century CE, spreading from there into Syria and Asia
      Minor.
      > Emerging in Armenia at the beginning
      > of the 5th century to settle there for the very least 500-600
      years - it
      > was much more persistent than the Bogomilian,
      > Severian,Paulician and Cathar "heresies", while never establishing a
      > concept of lineage,hierarchy or ritual rule, and
      > having no "church" form, it appears for the longest time they
      attempted to
      > be identified with the pious renunciates
      > of the Orthodox tradition, wearing similar modes of clothing as
      monks
      > (Eastern Orthodox monks), living in Monasteries,
      > going on pilgrimages etc. In the 7th century some thousands, from
      the
      > peasant stock villages in Armenia, were
      > resettled (exiled) by the secular (military) authorities along with
      > Paulicians, to the Balkans.
      > They were certainly "neighbours" with the Paulicians and possibly
      were
      > around at the inception of the Bogomils -
      > but they shared, apart from their demonology, exorcistic baptisms
      and
      > asceticism, most of their doctrines with
      > the Orthodox and had no distinct mythology like the Bogomils - saw
      towards
      > the same Eschaton, or end of time,
      > as many apocalyptics who nevertheless remained "pillars" in the
      Orthodox
      > community for centuries, and were
      > not metaphysical dualists, only dualist in relationship to the dual
      > prinsciple in non-renunciate men.
      > By the 11th century sightings of Massalians were subclassed with the
      > emerging Bogomils, before this they
      > are not confused with Manichaeans or such, but when the Bogomils and
      > Paulicians were polemized against
      > as Manichaeans, they were subclassed as such. The same happened to
      the
      > Waldensians when the Cathars
      > were polemized against with the same method.
      >
      >
      > The Massalians are most certainly *not*doctrinally similar to the
      > "Archontics" and "Phibionites" mentioned by Epiphanius of Salamis,
      > but resided for a period in the same geographical area.
      > The latter two are actually somewhat strange, but seems to accord
      with the
      > controversial teachings concerning a lower creator and a lowly
      creation -
      > this is not the preoccupation or "Heresy" of the Massalians, rather
      theirs
      > is the assumption that it is possible through prayer and
      renunciation to
      > attain some kind of moral perfection and become receptacles of the
      Holy
      > Spirit and have superiority over the adherents of the Orthodox
      Churhc on
      > that basis. I`d say they are the forerunners of the Taborians and
      other
      > anti-catholic supermen in the later middle ages, as they are
      described by
      > Noman Cohn in his _Pursuit of the Millenium_.
      >
      >
      > Theodoret,Ecclesiastical History - on the doctrines of the
      Messalians
      > according to a certain Adelphios:
      >
      > "Holy baptism is of no use to those to whom it is administered;
      > persevering prayer alone is able to put to flight the demon
      dwelling in
      > us. When the demons have been expelled by prayer, the Holy Spirit
      then
      > comes and manifests his presence visibly and to the senses, freeing
      the
      > body from the movement of the passions and completely liberating
      the soul,
      > which is no longer inclined towards evil. It is no longer necessary
      > thereafter to fast in order to tame the body nor to submit to
      guidance in
      > the way of righteousness. The person who has obtained this gift is
      not
      > only freed from the uncontrolled movements of the body but also
      sees the
      > future clearly and with his eyes looks on the divine Trinity."
      > (Ecclesiastical History IV, 10)
      >
      > "some of them used to dance by way of trampling on the demons which
      they
      > saw, a practice from which they were called Choreutae.Things they
      saw in
      > their dreams they took for realities, and boasted that they then
      acquired
      > a knowledge of future events, could see the condition of departed
      souls,
      > and could read men's hearts. Both sexes might partake of this divine
      > illumination, and they had female teachers, whom they honoured more
      than
      > the clergy. The use of the Lord's Supper they regarded as a thing
      > indifferent: it could neither benefit the worthy nor harm the
      unworthy
      > receiver; but there was no reason for separating from the church by
      > refusing it. They disparaged all the ordinary forms of Christian
      charity
      > as compared with the merit of bestowing alms on one of their
      members. They
      > had speculations about our Lord's humanity, of which the most
      intelligible
      > is that the body which He assumed had been full of demons which it
      was
      > necessary for Him to expel.
      >
      > They held that in consequence of Adam's sin every one had from his
      birth a
      > demon, substantially united to his soul, which incited him to sin,
      and
      > which baptism was ineffectual to expel. Dealing only with past sin,
      > baptism did but shear off the surface growth, and did not touch the
      root
      > of the evil. The true remedy was intense, concentrated prayer,
      continued
      > till it produced a state from which all affections and volitionswere
      > banished .In this the soul felt as sensible a consciousness of
      union with
      > its heavenly bridegroom as an earthly bride in the embraces of her
      > husband. Then the demon went out in the spittle or in the mucus of
      the
      > nose, or was seen to depart in smoke or in the farm of a serpent,
      and
      > there was in like manner sensible evidence of the entrance of the
      Holy
      > Spirit. St. Augustine (Haer. 57), who had some source of information
      > independent of Epiphanies, ascribes to them a fancy that the Holy
      Spirit
      > might be seen to enter in the appearance of innocuous fire, and the
      demon
      > to pass out of the.man's mouth in the farm of a sow with her farrow.
      > Possibly language intended by them metaphorically was
      misunderstood; for
      > they described the soul of him who had not Christ in him as the
      abode of
      > serpents and venomous beasts. They further thought that he who had
      arrived
      > at the passionless state could see the Holy Trinity with his bodily
      eyes;
      > that the three hypostases of the Trinity coalesced into one, which
      united
      > itself with worthy souls. This doctrine no doubt furnishes the key
      to the
      > account given by Epiphanies of the effacement of the sense of
      distinct
      > personality in members of this
      >
      >
      >
      > (C.Wace:Biographical Dictionary of Christianity)
      >
      >
      >
      > The ecumenical council at Ephesus in 431 condemned all Messalians,
      > Euchites or Enthusiasts, and anathematized an _Asceticon_,
      reputedly the
      > Messalian manual. There have long been questions whether such a book
      > existed. John of Damascus (eighth century) cited 18 sections from
      the
      > so-called Asceticon in his On Heresies, but these citations have
      been
      > shown to be excerpted from the spiritual homilies of Pseudo-
      Macarius.
      >
      > From - NOTE ON THE MESSALIANS OR MASSALIANS.
      >
      > (Tillemont, Memoires, Tom. VIII., Seconde Partie. Condensed.)
      > http://www.ccel.org/fathers/NPNF2-14/4Ephesus/Massal.htm
      >
      > "Their principal tenet was that everyone inherited from his
      ancestors a
      > demon, who had possession of his soul from the moment of his birth,
      and
      > always led it to evil. That baptism cut away the outside branches
      of sin,
      > but could not free the soul of this demon, and that therefore its
      > reception was useless. That only constant prayer could drive out
      this
      > demon. That when it was expelled, the Holy Spirit descended and gave
      > visible and sensible marks of his presence, and delivered the body
      from
      > all the uprisings of passion, and the soul from the inclination to
      evil,
      > so that afterwards there was no need of fasting, nor of controlling
      lust
      > by the precepts of the Gospel.
      >
      > Besides this chief dogma, gross errors, contrary to the first
      principles
      > of religion, were attributed to them. That the divinity changed
      itself in
      > different manners to unite itself to their souls. They held that
      the body
      > of Christ was infinite like his divine nature; they did not
      hesitate to
      > say that his body was at first full of devils which were driven out
      when
      > the Word took it upon him.(1) They claimed that they possessed clear
      > knowledge of the state of souls after death, read the hearts and
      desires
      > of man, the secrets of the future and saw the Holy Trinity with
      their
      > bodily eyes. They affirmed that man could not only attain
      perfection but
      > equal the deity in virtue and knowledge.
      >
      > They never fasted, slept men and women together, in warm weather in
      the
      > open streets. But certain say that before attaining to this liberty
      of
      > license three years of mortification were required,
      >
      > The most well-known point of their discipline is that they forbade
      all
      > manual labour as evil, and unworthy of the spiritual."
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > ---
      >
      > Some works of interest
      >
      > Specifically on Messalianism:
      >
      > Daniel Caner
      > Wandering, Begging Monks
      > Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late
      Antiquity
      >
      >
      > Spec. on medieval "groups":
      >
      > The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar
      Heresy (Yale
      > Nota Bene) -- Yuri Stoyanov
      >
      > Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World C.650-C.1450:
      Selected
      > Sources (Manchester Medieval Sources Series)
      > by Janet Hamilton (Editor), Bernard Hamilton (Editor), Yuri
      Stoyanov (Editor)
      >
      > The Hidden Tradition in Europe -- Yuri Stoyanov
      >
      > The Medieval Manichee : A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy
      > by Steven Runciman (Oh,If you must...)
      >
      > The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to
      Modern
      > Nihilism by Ioan P. Couliano (although incomplete and
      > a bit wobbly, I really think it is a good read)
      >
      >
      > ---
      >
      >
      > Pax Pleromae
      >
      > --
      > Terje Dahl Bergersen
      > Deacon,Capella Santa Sophia,Ecclesia Gnostica Norvegia
      > terje@b...
      > http://terje.bergersen.net/
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