Greek Church Father and bishop of Olympus, in Lycia; probably martyred by Maximinus, 311. The only one of his works preserved entire in Greek is the "Symposium," which, as its name implies, forms a counterpart to Plato's "Symposium." Ten maidens, invited to the "garden of virtue," are the speakers, their themes being the following: (1) the praise of virginity as the essence of the likeness to God brought by Christ; (2) the divine ordinance of marriage; (3) virginity preferable to the married state; (4) virginity the best medicament to immortality; (5) virginity the great vow; (6) virgins keep themselves undefiled for the marriage with the Logos; (7) they are equal to the martyrs and are meant by Cant. ii. 2, iv. 9 sqq., vi. 7 sqq.; (8) the woman of Rev. xii. 1 sqq. is the Church, and the human will is free; (9) with her we must adorn ourselves for the Feast of Tabernacles, which is the Resurrection; (10) perfect righteousness (cf. Judges ix. 8 sqq.) first came into the world through Christ. The maidens close with a hymn to the heavenly bridegroom. The De Autexusio is preserved independently in Greek only in the portion i.-vii. 5, but considerable fragments are given by Eusebius, but under the name of Maximus (Pręparatio evangelica, vii. 22; Eng. transl., ii. 366 sqq., 2 vols., Oxford, 1903), Photius (Bibliotheca, 236), the Sacra Parallela; while it is fully reproduced in an Old Church Slavic translation of the eleventh century. Its theme is the origin of evil, which arose from Satan's disobedience to God. In his Peri geneton, of which only a few fragments have been preserved by Photius (Bibliotheca, 235), Methodius assails Origen's doctrine of an eternal creation
Deeply influenced by Platonism and Stoicism, and strongly allegorical in interpretation, Methodius is at once an advocate of early Christian realism and of the ascetic and contemplative life. The main points of his constant opposition to Origen have already been noted. His concept of God was characterized by the attributes of non-becoming, power, and exemption from all need. If the Father is the essential principle of all being, the Son is the external effective force; yet Methodius stresses the divine nature of the Son, who was the means of all revelation of salvation, even in the Old Testament. The world was created for the microcosm man, whose will is absolutely free, and who is progressively taught by God to conquer the devil. The Logos necessarily became incarnate to bring man into harmony with the Divine, and, bringing "knowledge of the Father of all," he stripped off the old man, which he replaced "with his own flesh." This is done through the Church, for whom the Logos left the Father in heaven; and the souls betrothed to him are "helps meet for him," thus realizing the "deep sleep" of Adam (Gen. ii. 21). Nevertheless, outward membership is no guaranty of salvation, which is the work of grace that rewards longing with fulfilment. Yet even the Christian does not entirely extirpate sin in this life, and the forgiveness of sins and deeper recognition of the divine will only strengthen the natural good in him; while the birth of Christ in the faithful, transforming them into Christs, is essentially a spiritual growth, though coming to pass on principle in baptism. The cure for all evils and the root of true morality is the spiritual understanding of the Scriptures, wisdom blooming in the desert, where dwells the bride of the Logos. The progress in the Christian life here outlined, however, finds its culmination, as implied above, in perfect virginity of both body and soul. The ideal of Methodius is that of the ascetic sage. In accordance with the tradition of the Church, more over, Methodius was inclined toward a moderate chiliasm, holding that in the seventh millennium the faithful would celebrate the true Sabbaths and the real Feast of Tabernacles with Christ, this millennium being the rest preliminary to endless eternity.(N. BONWETSCH.)
For Methodius the apostle to the Slavs see CYRIL AND METHODIUS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The first complete ed. of the "Banquet" was by Allatius, Rome, 1656. An incomplete collection of the works was made by F. Combefs, Paris, 1644, enlarged, 1672. The works are also in A. Gallandi, BiblioIkeca roeterum patrum, iii. 670 eqq., Venice, 1767; in MPG, xviii. 27-408; and an edition is by A. Jahn, Halle, 1865. There is an Eng. trans]. with introduction in ANF, vi . 307-402. The earlier literature on the subject is given very completely in ANF, Bibliography, pp. 75-76. Consult: Jerome, De wir. ill., Ixxxiii.; Socrates, Hint. eccl., vi. 13; A. Pankau, Methodius, BiechofwonOlymput, Mainz, 1888; N. Bonwetsch, Methodiue won Olympus, Leipsio, 1891; idem, Die Theolopis des Methodiua won Olympus, Berlin, 1903; O. Bardenhewer, Patrologie, pp. 154 eqq., Freiburg, 1894; Ehrhard, Die altchristliche Litteratur and ihre Erforschung, 1884 -1900, pp. 363 sqq., ib. 1900; Harnack, Litteratur, i. 468-478, 786, 929-930, ii. 2, pp. 147 eqq., 150-151; idem, Dogma, vols. i.-v. passim; Krilger, History, pp. 235-242; Schaff, Christian Church, ii. 309-312; Ceillier, Auteure eacr6a, iii. 62-73; DCB, iii: 909-911.
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