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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 289: Emeritus (2)

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ARTICLE 289

Emeritus (2)

Two days later on Friday, September 20, 418, the bishops, priests, deacons, and a great number of lay people gathered in the church of Algiers.1 Deuterius was the presiding bishop and Emeritus was present. Secretaries were on hand to act as stenographers. Augustine believed it important that this meeting take place if not for Emeritus’ sake, then for the sake of those in need of enlightenment on the schism.

Emeritus and other Donatists complained of oppression at the hands of Marcellinus in the conference of Carthage (411).2 They protested they had not been permitted to defend themselves properly. After Augustine reported to this assembly the events of the preceding Wednesday, he requested Emeritus present the strongest case for his party and respond in his own behalf.3 Their dispute no longer involved merely these two men. It would be useful for the lay people to hear the dispute. Emeritus had nothing to fear. It would be to his credit either to be victorious in the presence of his co-citizens or to yield to the truth.

Emeritus responded it could already be seen in the acts of the conference of Carthage, if he was the winner or loser and if he had yielded to truth or to power. Augustine asked him why he had come, if he did not wish to speak. He responded he came to answer what Augustine could ask him. Augustine then asked once again why...

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