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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 280: Council of Carthage (418)

Extract

ARTICLE 2801

Council of Carthage (418)

Winter may have prevented Zosimus from responding to the first letter of the African bishops. He had received it in 417 from the Council of Carthage (417) concerning the Pelagians. He responded on March 21, 418. Later he received a second letter of the council sent through Marcellinus.2 Zosimus made one short response to the two letters. He raised the subject of his dignity as pope and spoke of his communication sent to the Africans concerning the Caelestius’ affair as a favor to them. Nevertheless he assured the Africans he had left things as they were, as they had requested. As for the future he apparently intends to deliberate on taking any further action.

This letter was received in Africa on April 29, 418. The bishops were assembling in Carthage to hold a council of Africa on May 1 in the Basilica of Faustus.3 Doubtless this council was a general African council. Augustine and other bishops had written brief ordinances against the Pelagian heresy.4 In ancient manuscripts the title reports this council was assembled from the provinces of Byzacena, Stesa, Tripoli, Numidia, Caesarean Mauritania, and Spain.5 Aurelius was seated with Donatianus of Teleptus, primate of Byzacena, and two hundred and three other bishops. Other manuscripts read two hundred and fourteen or more.6 For some unknown reason Proconsular was not mentioned in the enumeration. The presence of bishops from Proconsular may perhaps be presupposed since the bishop of Carthage...

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