Methodius of Olympus

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Hieromartyr Methodius of Olympus 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 is September 18.


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.