Melito of Sardis (died c.180) was the bishop of Sardis, near Smyrna in western
Anatolia, and a great
authority in Early Christianity:
Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed a
prophet by many of the faithful.
His feast is celebrated on
Aside from a homily Peri Pascha
(On the Passover
) in the Bodmer Papyri
, only fragments of his works
survive. Melito was a prolific early Christian writer, judging from
lists of them preserved by Eusebius
. He wrote a celebrated apology
for Christianity which he sent to Marcus Aurelius
provides us with what is possibly the earliest known Christian
canon of the Old Testament having traveled to Palestine (probably
the library at Caesarea
Maritima) seeking to
acquire accurate information in this regard.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia
Melito believed in
a Millennial reign
of Christ on Earth.
He wrote against idolatry
or relying on
teachings of fathers to condone it (Melito's Apology addressed
to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
). He presented elaborated
parallels between the Old Testament, the form or mold, and the
, as the truth that broke
the mold, in a series of Eklogai
, six books
of extracts from the Law and the Prophets presaging Christ and the
Christian faith; a passage cited by Eusebius contains Melito's
famous canon of the Old Testament.
, in a brief note, relates that Melito
ascribed corporeality to God
, and believed that
the likeness of God is preserved in the human body. The note is too
brief to tell exactly what Melito might have meant by this.
Death and legacy
A letter of Polycrates of
to Pope Victor I
194, mentioned by Eusebius
5.24) states that "Melito the eunuch
" was interred at Sardis.
Melito's reputation as a writer remained strong into the Middle
Ages: numerous works were pseudepigraphically ascribed
- Hansen, Adolf, and Melito. 1990. The "Sitz im Leben" of the
paschal homily of Melito of Sardis with special reference to the
paschal festival in early Christianity. Thesis (Ph.
D.)--Northwestern University, 1968.
- Melito, and Bernhard Lohse. 1958. Die Passa-Homilie des
Bischofs Meliton von Sardes. Textus minores, 24. Leiden: E.J.
- Melito, J. B. Pitra, and Pier Giorgio Di Domenico. 2001. Clavis
Scripturae. Visibile parlare, 4. Città del Vaticano: Libreria
editrice vaticana. 
- Melito, J. B. Pitra, and Jean Pierre Laurant. 1988. Symbolisme
et Ecriture: le cardinal Pitra et la "Clef" de Méliton de Sardes.
Paris: Editions du Cerf. 
- Melito, and Josef Blank. 1963. Vom Passa: die älteste
christliche Osterpredigt. Sophia, Quellen östlicher Theologie, Bd.
3. Freiburg im Breisgau: Lambertus-Verlag. 
- Melito, and Richard C. White. 1976. Sermon "On the Passover.".
Lexington Theological Seminary Library. Occasional studies.
Lexington, Ky: Lexington Theological Seminary Library. 
- Melito, and Stuart George Hall. 1979. On Pascha and fragments.
Oxford early Christian texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
- Waal, C. van der, and Melito. 1973. Het Pascha der verlossing:
de schriftverklaring in de homilie van Melito als weerspiegeling
van de confrontatie tussen kerk en synagoge. Thesis--Universiteit
van Suid-Afrika. 
- Waal, C. van der, and Melito. 1979. Het Pascha van onze
verlossing: de Schriftverklaring in de paaspreek van Melito van
Sardes als weerspiegeling van de confrontatie tussen kerk en
synagoge in de tweede eeuw. Johannesburg: De Jong.