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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 256: Orosius’ Apologia

Extract

ARTICLE 2561

Orosius’ Apologia

The conference of Jerusalem closed.2 The feast of the dedication of the church of the Resurrection took place on September 13, 415. Orosius came as usual to accompany John to the altar. Instead of greeting him John said: “Why do you come to find us, you have blasphemed?” Orosius was surprised and knew he was guilty of nothing. He asked of what blasphemy John accused him, when, and before whom he claimed he had said it. “I have heard you say that man, even with the help of God, can not be without sin.”

Orosius could have made this statement and would have meant it in an entirely orthodox sense. However this proposition could also have a heterodox sense—the expression itself is odious as it limits God’s power. Orosius had neither said nor willed the proposition in a hetorodox sense. Taking the priests and others present as his witnesses, Orosius protested he never proferred these words. If he had said them in the conference, as John claimed, John would have reprehended him on the spot and admonished him paternally not to let his language proceed into dangerous discourse. It was not proper for John to reproach him first after forty-seven days had elapsed. There were no witnesses. John made those present at the conference the accusers and judges of a crime of which he was the only witness. Pelagius spoke in Latin and John, not knowing that language could...

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