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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 281: Honorius’ Law



Honorius’ Law

Because of pressing affairs Augustine remained at Carthage until his trip to Caesarean Mauretenia on September 18, 4181. Augustine was in Carthage when he received two pleasing pieces of news:2 (1) Honorius’ law of April 30, 418 against the Pelagians;3 (2) Zosimus’ condemnation of the Pelagians.4 The decrees of the African Council had been sent, approved by Rome, and followed by the emperors.5 Three pious emperors knew the judgment of the Catholic Church, particularly Aurelius and Augustine, against the Pelagians.6 The emperors condemned the Pelagians by law and ordered them to be treated as heretics.7 Prosper apparently ascribes this last tenet to the law to Boniface, Zosimus successor as pope on December 29, 418.8 In letters written in or about 418, Augustine witnesses the Pelagians had already been pursued by the executors of the law.9 According to Augustine in De peccato originali not only had the council, the Apostolic See, and the entire Roman Church declared themselves against the errors of Pelagianism, but the empire itself had arisen against them.10

Honorius’ law at Ravenna April 30, 418 and addressed to Palladius, prefect of the praetorium, was promulgated for this purpose.11 This manner of acting conforms to other laws of the time. Honorius declares he had first learned by public rumor what Pelagius and Caelestius taught against the universal authority of the Catholic religion. They taught God had created the first man mortal, Adam’s sin was not passed on...

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