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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

Edited By 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 consecration (354–396); part 2: the Donatist controversy (396–411); part 3: the Pelagian controversy (411–430).
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Article 214: Pelagius (3)



Pelagius (3)

According to Gennadius Pelagius had already written several works before he was recognized as a heretic.1 He had written De trinitate in three books, in which he instructed believers on the teaching of the Church concerning the trinity. He wrote another work, Liber Eulogiarum, to regulate conduct and mores of the Christian life. There he alleged various scriptural passages in support of his arguments. Both works are divided into chapters under various titles as Cyprian had done in his work to Quirinius.2 In effect Pelagius bragged he was imitating and finishing the work of Cyprian whom he esteemed as a martyr.3

He dedicated Liber Eulogiarum to Romanus. Whether this person is Romanus, the disciple of Paulinus, mentioned by Paulinus in Letter 30 and Augustine in Letter 31, is unknown. Pelagius wrote this book (and others) in Latin.4 Augustine does not call it Liber Eulogiarum, but rather Liber Capitularum,5 and elsewhere Liber Testimoniorum.6 Orosius assures us Pelagius entitled it Liber Eulogiarum.7 Jerome reports several titles.8

Beyond doubt Pelagius wrote Liber Eulogiarum before he was recognized as a heretic. Gennadius reports the work but he does not say it was written before Pelagius publicly fell into heresy.9 Objections concerning several passages were raised in the Council of Diospolis.10 Jerome agrees with Gennadius but reproaches Pelagius for claiming to complete Cyprian’s work. In fact his teaching was contrary to that of Cyprian, particularly in what he said in chapter 100:...

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