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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

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 297: Hesechius and the Last Judgment



Hesechius and the Last Judgment

Circa 419 Augustine wrote to bishop Hesechius who certainly is not an African.1 Some manuscripts report in effect he is bishop of Salone, a metropolis in Dalmatia.2 In February, 418 Zosimus wrote his first letter to Hesechius who was by then an elderly bishop.3 In Zosimus’ letter, Hesechius appears to have more authority than other bishops. At the time Augustine had written him almost four hundred and twenty years since Christ’s birth and three hundred and ninety since his resurrection had passed.4 Apparently Jerome was still alive.

Prodigies had occurred.5 A solar eclipse may have happened at 2:00 p.m. July 19, 418.6 Chronicon Idatii mentions a Thursday as the time of this eclipse7 but it was in actuality a Friday as appears in the Chronicum Alexandrum.8 According to Philostorgis, the eclipse was so large stars were seen.9 It was followed by extraordinary heat causing death to human beings and animals. This eclipse is mentioned by Tiro Prosper and Marcellinus.10 The latter adds a comet was seen lasting seven months. Apparently Philostorgis says the same meteor appeared for a four months period and had been taken for a comet although he himself is not of this opinion. Tiro Prosper mentions prodigious signs appeared in the heavens after the eclipse.11

In 418 earthquakes and other prodigies occurred particularly in Palestine and Beziers in Languedoc. What is more surprising is an appearance of Christ on the Mount...

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