Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 253: De perfectione iustitiae
De perfectione iustitiae
De perfectione iustitiae is most likely dated after 414 since Possidius dates it after De natura et gratia.1 Augustine does not mention it in Letter 169. The work would naturally be dated following this letter since Augustine addressed the work to Bishops Paul and Eutropius. They had presented Augustine with a memorandum against various heresies shortly after Orosius had arrived in Africa before mid-415.2 Possidius dates De perfectione iustitiae before the acts of the Council of Diospolis (416–417).3 In this book Augustine does not as yet absolutely reject that with the grace of God some men had lived sinless lives without consenting to sinful desires;4 they would have been delivered from the dominion of sin by grace and baptism. Augustine would not have written in this manner after the anathemas pronounced on this subject by the Council of Carthage (418).5 Prosper dates this work during the period prior to the semi-Pelagian affair.6 Augustine does not mention it in Retractationes apparently because he considered it a letter rather than a work.7 The title is in letter form but it should be placed among his works.8
Augustine addresses the work to Bishops Paul and Eutropius who had placed in his hands a booklet entitled Definitiones, ut dicitur, Caelestii.9 This booklet had been brought from Sicily by certain Catholics and contained truncated arguments (ratiocinationes) tending to prove the strength of nature from Scripture.10 The author claimed to show...