Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius
The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius is a 7th-century apocalypse that shaped the eschatological imagination of Christendom throughout the Mediæval period. 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 4th-century Church Father Methodius of Olympus (†311).[note 1]
It depicts many familiar Christian eschatological themes: the rise and rule of Antichrist, the invasions of Gog and Magog, and the tribulations that precede the end of the world.
A new element, probably adopted from the Tiburtine Sibyl,[note 2] was a Messiah-like "Last Roman Emperor", who would be a central figure in apocalyptic literature until the end of the Mediæval period.
"The myth began to form as early as the 4th century, and in the 7th century the legend was shaped further in the Syriac work of the Pseudo-Methodius, who wrote in response to the expansion of Islam into Christian territories. Translated into Greek and Latin, Pseudo-Methodius provided the basis for further reworking of the legend in the 10th and 11th centuries by writers in the Latin West. The legend itself describes the deeds of the last emperor of the world, who will arise in great anger to fight against the enemies of the faith. He will establish peace before fighting and defeating the armies of Gog and Magog. He will then go to Jerusalem, where he will offer up his crown to Christ, who will bear it and the emperor's spirit up to heaven. After the ascent of the emperor's spirit to heaven, the Antichrist will appear in Jerusalem, and the final battle between good and evil will be fought."
It was translated into Greek soon after its composition, and thence into Latin (by the eighth century), Slavonic, Russian, Armenian, and Arabic.
Its precise date is difficult to ascertain, however dates proposed by recent historians fall within the range 644 - 691 AD.
- Hieromartyr Methodius of Patara, June 20.
- The Tiburtine Sibyl, was a Roman sibyl (meaning 'prophetess'), whose seat was the ancient Etruscan town of Tibur (modern Tivoli). An apocalyptic pseudo-prophecy exists among the Sibylline Oracles, attributed to the Tiburtine Sibyl, written ca. 380 AD, but with revisions and interpolations added at later dates. It purports to prophesy the advent in the world's ninth age of a final Emperor vanquishing the foes of Christianity.
- "Christianity." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
- Palmer, Andrew; Sebastian Brock; and Robert Hoyland. The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles: Including Two Seventh-Century Syriac Apocalyptic Texts. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1993. pg.225.
- Alexander, Paul J. "The Medieval Legend of the Last Roman Emperor and Its Messianic Origin". Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. Vol. 41. (1978), pp.1–15.
- Hoyland, Robert G. "Seeing Islam as Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam". Princeton: Darwin Press 1997.
- McGinn, Bernard. "Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages". NY: Columbia University Press, 1998. pp.70–76.
- Palmer, Andrew; Sebastian Brock; and Robert Hoyland. The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles: Including Two Seventh-Century Syriac Apocalyptic Texts. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1993.
- Tolan, John V. Saracens: Islam in the Medieval European Imagination. NY: Columbia University Press, 2002.