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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 250: Evodius




After De natura et gratia but before the end of 415, Augustine wrote Letter 169 to Evodius, bishop of Uzale and Augustine’s friend since baptism. Evodius was often proposed problems on elevated and difficult subjects; several letters between them evidence this kind of correspondence. At the beginning of Letter 167 Augustine told him he had important obligations which should not be interrupted. In response Evodius asked what these occupations were but did not stop proposing various problems. Among others he proposed questions on the Trinity and on the dove which represented the Holy Spirit at Christ’s baptism. Evodius could not believe this dove was a live bird. Evodius applied to these kinds of questions Paul’s words: “Let him who does not know be ignorant.”1

Augustine satisfied him with Letter 169 on the principal questions but did not enter into the others. He did not permit matters only of interest to scholars to turn him away from more necessary questions, useful to more people. Evodius might see how occupied he was by his works written in 415. If Evodius wished to have these books, he had only to send someone to copy them. To work on these concerns he postponed work on De trinitate.

Augustine says nothing on De Genesi ad litteram. Whether he had already finished the work and made it public is unclear. Is Letter 169 later than others written to Evodius where Augustine indicates he had...

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