Methodius of Olympus
The Church Father
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 and Saint Methodius of Olympus (died ca. 311) was a Christian bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, ecclesiastical author, and martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...



Few reports have survived on the life of this first scientific opponent of Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

; even these short accounts present many difficulties. Eusebius does not mention him in his Church History, probably because he opposed various theories of Origen. We are indebted to Saint Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

 for the earliest accounts of him. According to him, Methodius was Bishop of Olympos in Lycia
Lycia Lycian: Trm̃mis; ) was a region in Anatolia in what are now the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of Turkey. It was a federation of ancient cities in the region and later a province of the Roman Empire...

 and afterwards Bishop of Tyre. The latter statement is not reliable; no later Greek author knows anything of his being Bishop of Tyre; and according to Eusebius, Tyrannio was Bishop of Tyre during the persecutions of Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

 and died a martyr; after the persecution Paulinus was elected bishop of the city. Jerome further states that Methodius suffered martyrdom at the end of the last persecution, i.e., under Maximinus Daia
Maximinus II , also known as Maximinus Daia or Maximinus Daza, was Roman Emperor from 308 to 313. He was born of Dacian peasant stock to the half sister of the emperor Galerius near their family lands around Felix Romuliana; a rural area then in the Danubian region of Moesia, now Eastern Serbia.He...

 (311). Although he then adds, "that some assert", that this may have happened under Decius
Trajan Decius , was Roman Emperor from 249 to 251. In the last year of his reign, he co-ruled with his son Herennius Etruscus until they were both killed in the Battle of Abrittus.-Early life and rise to power:...

 and Valerian
Valerian (emperor)
Valerian , also known as Valerian the Elder, was Roman Emperor from 253 to 260. He was taken captive by Persian king Shapur I after the Battle of Edessa, becoming the only Roman Emperor who was captured as a prisoner of war, resulting in wide-ranging instability across the Empire.-Origins and rise...

 at Chalcis
Chalcis or Chalkida , the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, is situated on the strait of the Evripos at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός , though there is no trace of any mines in the area...

, this statement (ut alii affirmant), adduced even by him as uncertain, is unlikely. Various attempts have been made to clear up the error concerning the mention of Tyre as a subsequent bishopric of Methodius; it is possible that he was transported to Tyre during the persecution and died there.


Methodius had a comprehensive philosophical education, and was an important theologian
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 as well as a prolific and polished author. Chronologically, his works can only be assigned in a general way to the end of the third and the beginning of the fourth century. He became of special importance in the history of theological literature, in that he combated various views of the great Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

n, Origen. He particularly attacked his doctrine that man's body at the resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

 is not the same body as he had in life, as well as his idea of the world's eternity. Nevertheless he recognized the great services of Origen in ecclesiastical theology.

Like Origen, he is strongly influenced by Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's philosophy, and uses to a great extent the allegorical explanation of Scripture. Of his numerous works only one has come down to us complete in a Greek text: the dialogue on virginity, under the title Symposium, or on Virginity (Symposion e peri hagneias). In the dialogue, composed with reference to Plato's Symposium
Symposium (Plato)
The Symposium is a philosophical text by Plato dated c. 385–380 BCE. It concerns itself at one level with the genesis, purpose and nature of love....

, he depicts a festive meal of ten virgins in the garden of Arete, at which each of the participators extols Christian virginity and its sublime excellence. It concludes with a hymn on Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church. Larger fragments are preserved of several other writings in Greek; we know of other works from old versions in Slavonic, though some are abbreviated.

The following works are in the form of dialogue:
  1. On Free Will (peri tou autexousiou), an important treatise attacking the Gnostic
    Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

     view of the origin of evil and in proof of the freedom of the human will
  2. 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.

While large portions of the original Greek text of both these writings are preserved, we have only Slavonic versions of the four following shorter treatises:
  1. 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
  2. De cibis, on the Jewish dietary laws
    Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

    , and on the young cow, which is mentioned in Leviticus
    The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Hebrew Bible, and the third of five books of the Torah ....

    , with allegorical explanation of the Old Testament food-legislation and the red cow (Num.
    Book of Numbers
    The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch....

    , xix)
  3. De lepra, on leprosy
    Leprosy or Hansen's disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Named after physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen, leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions...

    , to Sistelius, a dialogue between Eubulius (Methodius) and Sistelius on the mystic sense of the Old Testament references to lepers (Lev., xiii)
  4. De sanguisuga, on the leech
    Leeches are segmented worms that belong to the phylum Annelida and comprise the subclass Hirudinea. Like other oligochaetes such as earthworms, leeches share a clitellum and are hermaphrodites. Nevertheless, they differ from other oligochaetes in significant ways...

     in Proverbs (Prov., xxx, 15 sq.) and on the text, "the heavens show forth the glory of God" (Ps. xviii, 2).

Of other writings, no longer extant, Jerome mentions (loc. cit.) a voluminous work against Porphyry
Porphyry (philosopher)
Porphyry of Tyre , Porphyrios, AD 234–c. 305) was a Neoplatonic philosopher who was born in Tyre. He edited and published the Enneads, the only collection of the work of his teacher Plotinus. He also wrote many works himself on a wide variety of topics...

, the Neoplatonist
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 who had published a book against Christianity; a treatise on the Pythonissa directed against Origen, commentaries on Genesis and the Canticle of Canticles. 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. Gregory Abu'l Faraj attribute to Methodius some kind of work dealing with the patriarchs.

The 7th-century Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius
Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius
The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius is a 7th-century apocalypse that shaped the eschatological imagination of Christendom throughout the Middle Ages. The work was written in Syriac in the late 7th century, in reaction to the Islamic conquest of the Near East, and is falsely attributed to the...

 is falsely attributed
Pseudepigrapha are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; a work, simply, "whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past." The word "pseudepigrapha" is the plural of "pseudepigraphon" ; the Anglicized forms...

 to him. His feast day is September 18. Among the editions of his works are: P.G., XVIII; Jahn
Jahn is a surname, and may refer to:* Erich Jahn , Hitler Youth leader* Friedrich Ludwig Jahn , German educator* Gunnar Jahn , Norwegian politician and resistance member...

, S. Methodii opera et S. Methodius platonizans (Halle, 1865); Bonwetsch, Methodius von Olympus: I, Schriften (Leipzig, 1891).

Virginity of Jesus Christ

Methodius taught that Jesus Christ remained a virgin His whole life as an example for men:

"What then did the Lord, the Truth and the Light, accomplish on coming down to the world? He preserved His flesh incorrupt in virginity with which he had adorned it. And so let us too, if we are to come to the likeness of God, endeavor to aspire to the virginity of Christ." (Symposium 1.5)

Further reading

  • Patterson, L. G. (Lloyd George), Methodius of Olympus: Divine Sovereignty, Human Freedom, and Life in Christ (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1997).
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