Methodius of Olympus

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Methodius of Olympus died 311 AD. He is considered important in the history of theological literature. He also opposed various views of Origen like the body of those resurrected being a different body.

Besides being a controversial theologian as well as a prolific and polished author we know very little of his work as a bishop or Christian. Chronologically, his works can only be assigned in a general way to the beginning of the 4th century when Constantine was recreating Christianity in a new image.

He does make mention of Athenagoras of Athens but was also not mentioned by Eusebius.

Methodius of Olympus was the first systematic opponent and critic of Origen of Alexandria. Jerome present one of the earliest accounts of him as the Bishop of Olympos in Lycia He was also mentioned as a later Bishop of Tyre. The record shows that Tyrannio and Paulinus were bishops there but no mention of Methodius. He was also influenced by Plato's philosophy, and uses regularly ises the allegorical explanation of Scripture to make his points.

He did write a dialogue on Free Will (peri tou autexousiou), which is considered an important treatise attacking the Valentinians and other Gnostic views of the origin of evil and in proof of the freedom of the human will.

Jerome tells is that Methodius wrote a well-received refutation of Porphyry.

In the Methodius of Olympus, On the distinction between foods (De cibis)[1] he states "On the distinction between foods, and on the heifer mentioned in Leviticus, with the ashes of which sinners were sprinkled"[2] but the the red heifer is actually mentioned in Numbers, chapter 19, not in Leviticus.

He writes that "We should not so much concern ourselves with food, and with which animals have cloven hooves, as with righteousness and with the food of understanding and with works of love towards God."

And often quoting scripture concludes that we should “It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.”

But food strangled was the wages of unrighteousness provided by those benefactors of force who had persecuted Christians for 3 centuries during the Christian conflict with the heathens and their covetous practices. And fornication was making the required agreements with those systems of the world that offered those benefits to their members and abused those who would not join in their feasts. Their free bread was provided through their temples by what was sacrificed to idols.

Moses, John the Baptist, Christ, Paul the Apostle said care for one another through faith, charity, and love and not the covetous practices of the force of Cain, Nimrod and Caesar.

He continues to emphasize the use of an allegorical explanation of Scripture. "Do the scriptures contradict themselves, or do the prophets disagree with the law? But rather the Lord’s books agree among themselves to praise him worthily and to send us into one and the same knowledge and life, and one hope that is to come, if the veil of the scriptures is drawn aside. It is impossible for it to be drawn aside, unless we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. And so with an uncovered face we shall know his glory, which is proclaimed in the old books, not making him a house of ivory and gold (for this is not what the prophet commands). If the Jews are in error about Christ in this way, we know that the Deity takes no pleasure in the dead wiles of human ingenuity, but in those things which are living and never decay"

"The time is past, there is no more ash, it is no longer written on tablets of stone, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, compelling those who are under the law to serve the Lord against their will, but on tablets of flesh for those who would live forever to serve God of their free will."

To force your neighbor to provide welfare for you or curse children with the surety of debt not only steals free will from them but voids it for yourself. As you judge so shall you be condemned by your own judgment. If you take a bite out of one another you shall be devoured by your own appetite. for the flesh and blood of your neighbor.

We are either vessels of The Way of Christ or the covetous way of the world. "For if a man dies in spiritual death, and you enter his house, that is to say, his way of life and his works, you have immediately defiled your conscience and darkened your mind. However, if you repent before the evil can fester in your soul and body, you will come and purify yourself with the holy body. Every vessel that is open, and has no cover tied on it, is unclean. But every soul that is tied up with bonds of love and bound around, cannot receive that defilement. But that which is open through weakness, and does not bear the seal of Christ upon it, is defiled by the wiles of the Devil. Thus Jeremiah told the people, saying, “For death has come in through their doors.” He calls their senses doors. "


  1. Translated by Ralph Cleminson1 2015
  2. This is the title in the manuscript, which contains a number of pieces by Methodius of Olympus. The manuscript used for this translation is number 40 on the Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra website (, but it doesn’t belong to them: it is held in the Russian State Library (=RGB) in the collection of the old Moscow Spiritual Academy. The shelfmark of the manuscript is ф. 173.I, №40, and De Cibis appears on folios ff.108v–120v. Also consulted were: G. Bonwetsch, “Methodius”, in: Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller 27 (1917), 427-447, who gives the Old Slavonic in German translation; and the Russian translation by M. Chub, in: Богословские труды (=Bogoslovskie Trudy) 2 (1961) 2 (1961), 160-172. All this material including the manuscript is online.