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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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Note 22 Letter 841583 There is an acknowledged error in Augustine’s Letter 84 where we read, sed cum latina lingua cujus inopia etc. The Benedictines believe it necessary to read sed cum latinam linguam calleat, or something similar.1584 This solution remedies the grammatical error, but does not satisfy another important difficulty. According to our text Hippo, a port city and a Roman colony, would not have anyone who knew Latin. The same would be true of the diocese of Novat, apparently a town in Stesan Mauritania. Neither is believable. The latter situation could be remedied by reading illic autem ejusdem linguae usus ominino non sit. But the first absurdity would still remain. Latin must have been used in Stesa, the provincial capital and the governor’s seat of this part of Mauretania. The only remaining solution is to follow the thought of a man equally clear in large and small matters who believes it necessary to read, Sed cum punica lingua inopia . . . laboret etc. which makes clear sense and alleviates all the difficulties. Du Bois approves this conjecture and follows it in his translation. He also believes in place of omnino sit, it is necessary to read communis sit. This correction is likely— the meaning would still be the same. 1583 Editor’s note: This note properly refers to Article 64, vol 1, p. 172 1584PL 33, 294(c). Note 23 Sermon on the Occasion of Valerius’ Death1585 In his supplement to Augustine’s works, Vignier has included a sermon which he believes...

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