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Melito of Sardis

On Pascha by Melito of Sardis


Melito of Sardis was a bishop of the second century in one of the churches in Rome. He was involved in an early Christian controversy concerned with when Easter is to be celebrated. Some believed the celebration should always be on the 14th of Nissan regardless of whether it was a Sunday or not. Others were celebrating it on the following Sunday. Melito was part of the first camp. Though the leaders of the Church could not agree on one set date for a century or so, they did not see this as a ground for breaking communion. They perceived their different practices to be an acceptable form of unity within diversity. We do not know much about Melito other than his office as a bishop and that most of his works have been lost with only this homily and a few fragments left.  


            The main homily of the book commemorates the resurrection of Christ and was likely preached on Easter Eve. It should be noted that Melito lived and died before any of the Ecumenical councils. As such, his wording in relation to Christ and His relationship with the Father can be a bit ambiguous given that our eyes are accustomed to the precise language of post-Nicene fathers.


            The book contains a study of the Easter dating controversy, an introduction to the theology of Melito followed by translations of Melito’s works. The works of Melito contain his paschal homily, and a few fragments. The book is concluded with a few sayings of church fathers and early Christians regarding the celebration of Easter on the 14th of Nissan.


            We live in a world filled with darkness whether socially, politically or morally, etc. Morbidity and mortality are facing us with a pandemic that affects many and causes the passing away of loved ones. Amidst such world, it is easy to fall into despair. Melito’s homily acts as the light at the end of the tunnel. He draws our attention to the reality of the Resurrection of Christ as the central event in Christianity through which we can understand all of Scripture (Old and New Testament). Begin reading this book as it will teach you a bit about the history of the celebration of Easter and a lot about the theology of the Resurrection of Christ.

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