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Methodius of Olympus
Commemorated June 20/July 03

Hieromartyr Methodius of Olympus1 was the Bishop of Olympus in Lycia during the late third and early fourth centuries. He was a theologian and prolific author. The place of his martyrdom is uncertain. His feast day in the Orthodox Church is June 20. The date and place of his birth are unknown. Very few reports of his life have been handed down to us. He is not mentioned by Eusebius in his Church History. St. Jerome provided the earliest accounts of him, reporting him as Bishop of Olympus. Jerome's report report of his having been Bishop of Tyre has not been reconciled. Methodius received a comprehensive education with a strong influence from Plato's philosophy. While Methodius recognized the services of Origen in ecclesiastical theology, he is noted for his attacks on erroneous views presented by Origen, particularly that of his doctrine that man's body at the resurrection is not that as he had in life. The state of his works that have come to us vary. His dialogue on virginity, under the title Symposium, or on Virginity (Symposion e peri hagneias), has come down to us complete in a Greek text. Other writings in Greek exist as large fragments, and there are old versions in Slavonic of which some are abbreviated. Large portions of the original Greek text of the following writings, in the form of dialogue, are preserved:

On Free Will (peri tou autexousiou), an important treatise attacking the Gnostic view of the origin of evil and in proof of the freedom of the human will. On the Resurrection (Aglaophon e peri tes anastaseos), in which the doctrine that the same body that man has in life will be awakened to incorruptibility at the resurrection is specially put forward in opposition to Origen.

Of the following four shorter treatises, only Slavonic versions are preserved:

De vita, on life and rational action, which exhorts in particular to contentedness in this life and to the hope of the life to come. De cibis, on Jewish dietary laws, and on the young cow, which is mentioned in Leviticus, with allegorical explanation of the Old Testament food-legislation and the red cow (Num., xix). De lepra, on leprosy, to Sistelius, a dialogue between Eubulius (Methodius) and Sistelius on the mystic sense of the Old Testament references to lepers (Lev., xiii). De sanguisuga, on the leech in Proverbs (Prov., xxx, 15 sq.) and on the text, "the heavens show forth the glory of God" (Ps. xviii, 2).

Jerome mentions other writings, that no longer are extant: a voluminous work against Porphyry, the Neoplatonist who had published a book against Christianity; a treatise on the Pythonissa directed against Origen, commentaries on Genesis and the Canticle of Canticles. While other authors attributed a work On the Martyrs, and a dialogue Xenon to Methodius. In the latter he opposes the doctrine of Origen on the eternity of the world. Methodius died a martyr possibly in 311.

Notes 1) According to the Greek text of the Great Synaxaristes, the reference in some sources that Methodius was the "Bishop of Patara" is untrue, resulting from the fact that his dialogue On the Resurrection (Aglaophon e peri tes anastaseos) took place in Patara. The works of Methodius October 28th, 2011 by Roger Pearse Methodius of Olympus is one of those patristic authors who tends to be rather forgotten. He died in 313 as a martyr, and wrote a reply to Porphyrys Against the Christians. There is one recent English study of his works, but even the bibliography in this shows that Methodius has been neglected. Quasten lists the following editions of his work:

Patrologia Graeca 18 GCS 27 (1917), ed. G. Bonwetsch Patrologia Orientalis 22, 5 (1930), ed. A. Vaillant

The works that have reached us are as follows. 1. The Banquet or Symposium ( ), in praise of virginity. Edited by Bonwetsch, p.1-141, and translated into English as part of the Ante-Nicene Fathers here. This is the only work for

which we possess the complete Greek text. An edition exists in Sources Chretiennes 95 (1963), ed. H. Musurillo. The remaining works are extant in an Old Slavonic translation, with fragments of the Greek. 2. On free-will ( ). The work seems to be directed against the Valentinians and other gnostics. Edited Bonwetsch, p.146-206, and by Vaillant, Le De autextusio de Methode dOlympe, version slave et texte grec ed. et trad. en franc. p.631-889. A short chunk probably from Greek is translated into English in the ANF here, and there are two French translations. It is extensively quoted by Eznik of Kolb in his 5th century Armenian work On God. 3. Aglaophon or On the resurrection ( ), in three books. It refutes the idea of a purely spiritual resurrection. The Greek is extant in fragments, including a long quotation from book 1 by Epiphanius in the Panarion. The Old Slavonic version includes all three books, but abbreviates book 3. Ed. Bonwetsch, 217-424, giving a German translation of the Old Slavonic. A small piece is translated in the ANF here. 4. On life and reasonable actions. This encourages us to be satisfied with what God has given us in this life and to place our hope on the world to come. Quasten says that this appears in the Old Slavonic version between On free will and On the resurrection, but none of the Greek survives. Bonwetsch gives a German translation of the Old Slavonic on p.207-216; the text does not seem to have been edited, nor translated into English. After On the resurrection in the Old Slavonic, there follow three exegetical works. I infer from Quastens description that Methodius is preserved in a single Old Slavonic manuscript. 5. De cibis or On the discrimination of food and the young cow mentioned in Leviticus. (actually Numbers 19). This follows On the resurrection in the Old Slavonic and is exegetical in nature. It is addressed to two women, Frenope and Kilonia, and gives an allegorical interpretation of the food laws. Bonwetsch gives a German translation of the Old Slavonic on p.425-447. 6. De lepra or To Sistelius on leprosy. On the allegorical sense of Lev. 13. Bonwetsch, German translation on p.449-474. But there are some Greek fragments of this work, in addition to the Old Slavonic. 7. A third treatise allegorises the leech, described in Proverbs 30, 15f. (De sanguisuga: p.475-489) and Ps. 18:2 The heavens show forth the glory of God (De creatis: p.491-500). Bonwetsch gives a German version of the Old Slavonic. 8. Against Porphyry. Jerome tells is that Methodius wrote a well-received refutation of Porphyry (De vir. ill. 83; Epist. 48:13; Epist. 70:3), but it is entirely lost. Bonwetsch edits some Greek fragments on p.501507. 9. On Job. Bonwetsch edits some fragments on this subject, doubtless from catenas, on p.519. 10. On the martyrs. Bonwetsch edits a fragment under this title (otherwise unknown) on p.520.

There is also an Apocalypse of pseudo-Methodius, from the 7th century, with which we are not concerned here. Bonwetsch study on the theology of Methodius is online here: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=INcAAAAAYAAJ Sadly the GCS volume is not online. But in 1891 Bonwetsch did a Methodius von Olympus. 1. Schriften volume, which contains much the same material. This may be found here: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Xk2kRtuaC1AC&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=y or here http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=BJAKAQAAMAAJ. The latter copy is better quality, I think. I can find no trace that the Old Slavonic text has been published at all, which seems remarkable to me, as this alone preserves most of his works. This consists of a Corpus Methodianum of the 11th century, evidently translated from Greek but no longer extant in that language. The existence of the Old Slavonic first became known via Cardinal Pitra in 1883. http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2011/10/28/the-works-of-methodius/