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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 274: Zosimus

Extract

ARTICLE 2741

Zosimus

Whatever Zosimus may have thought of Caelestius’ confession, he did not let the matter should rest there.2 Through incisive questioning he tried several times to discover if Caelestius had in his heart what he had written in his appeal.3 Zosimus left it to God alone who knows the depth of the human heart to judge the sincerity of his responses. Caelestius repeated several times what he had said and written in his appeal.4 Zosimus thought him verbose and swollen with false teaching.5 Perhaps considering him mad, the pope believed he should apply mild remedies to put him in a peaceful state of mind to return to complete spiritual health gradually.

Zosimus asked questions to lead him to condemn what Paul the deacon had alleged and what had been condemned in Carthage.6 Zosimus wanted him to consent to what Innocent had declared in his letters to the Africans. Paulinus reports the questions Zosimus put to him.7 In one of these questions the pope asked if he condemned the errors rumor had attributed to him.8 Caelestius responded he condemned them according to Innocent’s opinion. Had Caelestius spoken sincerely, he would have recognized original sin since he promised to follow the papal teaching contained in Innocent’s letters.9 Perhaps Mercator is referring to this state of affairs when he refers to the general pledge Caelestius, fearful of papal condemnation, had given Zosimus.10 He promised to condemn the articles of which he had been accused at...

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