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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 248: Timasius and James

Extract

ARTICLE 248

Timasius and James

Augustine had apparently begun to write De natura et gratia as Orosius left Africa. A little while after he had arrived in Palestine Orosius assured them in the presence of Pelagius himself Augustine was responding fully to one of his writings.1 Augustine had been asked to write a treatise by Pelagius’ disciples who had placed this work in his hands. This statement clearly relates to De natura et gratia. At the same time Jerome mentions Augustine’s writing directed against Pelagius which he had not as yet seen.2 In effect Augustine places the composition as the last work among those of which he speaks in Letter 169 at the end of 415.

Pelagius’ disciples at whose request he was writing were Timasius and James, two young men from good families well educated in the sciences from their childhood.3 They had embraced monastic life and had abandoned secular hope through the exhortations of Pelagius himself.4 In 411 Pinianus had delivered a message to Augustine through a monk Timasius.5

When Timasius and James severed themselves from the world through Pelagius they became involved in his errors.6 They listened carefully to his lectures and followed them faithfully.7 In accord with Pelagius’ teaching they accepted his doctrine contrary to the grace which made them Christians.8 Through Augustine’s admonitions God delivered them from the precipice. Instructed through his spirit of charity Timasius and James abandoned Pelagius’ error and submitted to the truth. Thus...

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