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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 254: Conference of Jerusalem

Extract

ARTICLE 254

Conference of Jerusalem

No doubt rumors were cropping up in Palestine concerning Pelagius; these rumors led to the conference of Jerusalem. Apparently the conference had been requested by the priests of the diocese.1 It was held on July 28, 415 forty-seven days before the feast of the dedication of the church of the Resurrection on Sept 13, 415.2

John, bishop of Jerusalem, presided at this conference;3 no other bishop was present. The assembly was composed of priests, among whom were Orosius, Avitus, Vital, and Passerus. An unknown translator was present and doubtless a number of heretical brethren who according to Orosius were present on the side. Dominus, perhaps a duke and leader of a special unit of officers4, was present. He had been raised to the rank of vicar by a personal privilege of Arcadius in a January 16, 408.5 Dominus and Passerus were esteemed in both divine and secular affairs because of their faith and experience.6 Since both knew Greek and Latin, the priests in Jerusalem had asked them to take part in the assembly as translators. The priests had brought them there and John of Jerusalem found them useful because of their linguistic capabilities. We have no detailed knowledge of Vital—perhaps he is the recipient of Jerome’s Letter 132 circa 395. Avitus may have been a Spanish priest in Jerusalem. Orosius was obliged by the priests to leave his solitude in Bethlehem and come to Jerusalem. When he...

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