Methodius of Olympus is one of those patristic authors who tends to be rather forgotten. He died in 313 as a martyr, and wrote a reply to Porphyry’s Against the Christians. There is one recent English study of his works, but even the bibliography in this shows that Methodius has been neglected.
Quasten lists the following editions of his work:
- Patrologia Graeca 18
- GCS 27 (1917), ed. G. Bonwetsch
- Patrologia Orientalis 22, 5 (1930), ed. A. Vaillant
The works that have reached us are as follows.
1. The Banquet or Symposium (Συμπόσιον ἢ περὶ ἁγνείας), in praise of virginity. Edited by Bonwetsch, p.1-141, and translated into English as part of the Ante-Nicene Fathers here. This is the only work for which we possess the complete Greek text. An edition exists in Sources Chretiennes 95 (1963), ed. H. Musurillo.
The remaining works are extant in an Old Slavonic translation, with fragments of the Greek.
2. On free-will (Περὶ τοῦ αὐτεξουσίου). The work seems to be directed against the Valentinians and other gnostics. Edited Bonwetsch, p.146-206, and by Vaillant, Le De autextusio de Methode d’Olympe, version slave et texte grec ed. et trad. en franc. p.631-889. A short chunk — probably from Greek — is translated into English in the ANF here, and there are two French translations. It is extensively quoted by Eznik of Kolb in his 5th century Armenian work On God.
3. Aglaophon or On the resurrection (Ἀγλαοφῶν ἢ περὶ ἀναστάσεως), in three books. It refutes the idea of a purely spiritual resurrection. The Greek is extant in fragments, including a long quotation from book 1 by Epiphanius in the Panarion. The Old Slavonic version includes all three books, but abbreviates book 3. Ed. Bonwetsch, 217-424, giving a German translation of the Old Slavonic. A small piece is translated in the ANF here.
4. On life and reasonable actions. This encourages us to be satisfied with what God has given us in this life and to place our hope on the world to come. Quasten says that this appears in the Old Slavonic version between On free will and On the resurrection, but none of the Greek survives. Bonwetsch gives a German translation of the Old Slavonic on p.207-216; the text does not seem to have been edited, nor translated into English.
After On the resurrection in the Old Slavonic, there follow three exegetical works. I infer from Quasten’s description that Methodius is preserved in a single Old Slavonic manuscript.
5. De cibis or On the discrimination of food and the young cow mentioned in Leviticus. (actually Numbers 19). This follows On the resurrection in the Old Slavonic and is exegetical in nature. It is addressed to two women, Frenope and Kilonia, and gives an allegorical interpretation of the food laws. Bonwetsch gives a German translation of the Old Slavonic on p.425-447.
6. De lepra or To Sistelius on leprosy. On the allegorical sense of Lev. 13. Bonwetsch, German translation on p.449-474. But there are some Greek fragments of this work, in addition to the Old Slavonic.
7. A third treatise allegorises the leech, described in Proverbs 30, 15f. (De sanguisuga: p.475-489) and Ps. 18:2 ‘The heavens show forth the glory of God’ (De creatis: p.491-500). Bonwetsch gives a German version of the Old Slavonic.
8. Against Porphyry. Jerome tells is that Methodius wrote a well-received refutation of Porphyry (De vir. ill. 83; Epist. 48:13; Epist. 70:3), but it is entirely lost. Bonwetsch edits some Greek fragments on p.501-507.
9. On Job. Bonwetsch edits some fragments on this subject, doubtless from catenas, on p.519.
10. On the martyrs. Bonwetsch edits a fragment under this title (otherwise unknown) on p.520.
There is also an Apocalypse of pseudo-Methodius, from the 7th century, with which we are not concerned here.
Bonwetsch’ study on the theology of Methodius is online here: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=INcAAAAAYAAJ
Sadly the GCS volume is not online. But in 1891 Bonwetsch did a Methodius von Olympus. 1. Schriften volume, which contains much the same material. This may be found here: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Xk2kRtuaC1AC&oe=UTF-8&redir_esc=y or here http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=BJAKAQAAMAAJ. The latter copy is better quality, I think.
I can find no trace that the Old Slavonic text has been published at all, which seems remarkable to me, as this alone preserves most of his works. This consists of a Corpus Methodianum of the 11th century, evidently translated from Greek but no longer extant in that language. The existence of the Old Slavonic first became known via Cardinal Pitra in 1883.
I will delve a bit further into Bonwetsch and see if we can discover the whereabouts of the Old Slavonic!