Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 216: Caelestius
Caelestius was the first and most celebrated of Pelagius’ disciples.1 He followed his master so exactly and successfully that their adherents were often named Pelagians or Caelestians indiscriminately. In the East Caelestius apparently became more prominent than Pelagius.2
Caelestius’ native land is unknown. Apparently Jerome calls Pelagius, not Caelestius, “dog of the Alps.”3 Garnier believes he may have been from Campania. According to Garnier Prosper refers to Caelestius, not Julian, as the “asp-viper of Campania.”4 However Garnier’s opinion is doubtful. Caelestius was from birth a eunuch of an illustrious family. Perhaps for this reason he has been called a “monster.”5
Jerome was accustomed to denigrate his adversaries.6 According to Jerome in his discourses Caelestius “walked on thorns.” He used solecisms, not syllogisms as his disciples called them.7 Nevertheless from the remains of his writings, his subtle mind and false philosophical argumentation can be detected.8 Augustine calls him a man of active mind.9 Had he corrected his errors, he assuredly would have been useful to the Church. According to Augustine, Pelagius and he had doctrines in common. Mercator attributed facility in oratory to him.10
Caelestius was initially a lawyer but he soon embraced monastic life.11 According to Gennadius in his youth before becoming involved with Pelagius he had lived in a monastery and had written three letters to his parents in the form of three small books.12 These works contain instructions on morality and ← 15...
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