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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

The Donatist Controversy (396 – 411)- Part 2 - Translation, Introduction and Annotation by Frederick Van Fleteren

Frederick van Fleteren

The seventeenth century was the century of Saint Augustine. In 1695, Louis Sébastien, Le Nain de Tillemont, finished volume 13 of his Mémoires ecclésiastique, entitled La vie de saint Augustin. The volume consisted of approximately 1200 pages wherein Louis Sébastien gathered from the works of Augustine and elsewhere all extant passages relevant to the biography of Augustine of Hippo. Completed in 1695, the biography was published posthumously in 1700. The work lies in the tradition of Jansenism from Port-Royal and the Leuven. Though an ascetic recluse on the family estate for the last twenty years of his life, he was in touch with important French scholars and the ecclesiastical movements of his time. Louis’ work is the first modern biography of Augustine and the most comprehensive of all Augustinian biographies, even today. Modern authors consult him and frequently adopt his theories without citation. His method exercises influence on contemporary Parisian scholarship on Augustine. This English translation has been divided into three volumes covering three time periods: part 1: birth to episcopal consecraton (354−396); part 2: the Donatist controversy (396−411); part 3: the Pelagian controversy (411−430).


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of the Manichean creed.47 We possess this work, or what would have been the first part of a work which remained unfinished. Augustine refuted only the beginning of Mani’s letter. As for rest, he made notes which contained the necessary refutation. These notes were to serve as an outline for finishing the work.48 These notes are no longer extant. Augustine begins the work asking for divine peace, to make him love conversion and salvation for Manichean opponents, not their confusion and downfall.49 He has compassion, not animosity, for those involved in errors he himself had so much trouble shedding. He mentions several reasons and predispositions which ought to maintain simple people in the Catholic Church without long discussion of dogma.50 Augustine then enters fully into the subject and indicates not only does Mani not prove his claims, as he should in principle do, but makes statements contrary to good sense and reason.51 Augustine mentions De agone christiana, or De christiana next.52 In it he teaches Christians to fight both the devil and themselves. He gives an abridgement of the rule of faith and moral principles. He briefly mentions 46Retractationes II, 2. 47Epistula quam Manichaei uocant Fundamenti 3; 43. 48Retractationes II, 3. 49Epistula quam Manichaei uocant Fundamenti 1. 50Ibid 4. 51Du Pin 3, 764. 52Retractationes II, 3. The Life of Augustine of Hippo 14 the principal heresies, among which he lists the Donatists and Luciferians.53 However, he evidently had Manicheans particularly in mind. He mentions the Donatists had splintered into various...

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