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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

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 244: Enarrationes in Psalmos



Enarrationes in Psalmos

415 A.D.

In Letter 169, written at the end of 414, Augustine mentions various works completed at the time. He had begun them during Lent as Easter was nearing. At the beginning of the letter he mentions De ciuitate dei IV-V. He adds he had dictated Enarrationes in Psalmos 67, 71, and 77. Whether he had explained other psalms in a similar manner earlier is unknown. He had certainly explicated many others already either in writing or orally.1 He had preached Enarratio in Psalmum 36 at Carthage in 403. In Enarratio in Psalmum 71 he mentions those who give part of their wealth to others, but take credit for the good deeds themselves rather than crediting them to the grace of God. Such people are rich in their own eyes, but poor in the eyes of God. Augustine is clearly referring to the Pelagians.

In Enarratio in Psalmum 77, he says he explained elsewhere how the ten plagues of the Egyptians can be compared to the ten commandments of the decalogue. Surely he is referring to the Sermon on the ten plagues and ten commandments which Possidius mentions in Indiculum.2 A large part of this sermon lies among the fragments taken from Eugippus, where it can be seen as a Sermo ad populum. There he speaks rather clearly against Manicheans and Donatists. He says nothing concerning Pelagians. Thus he may have composed this sermon before 410.

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