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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 298: De nuptiis et concupiscentia (I)



De nuptiis et concupiscentia (I)

Augustine dates two books to Count Valerius after his response to the Arian sermon.2 He dates the latter after the conference with Emeritus in 418. Thus he wrote at least the first book in 419, according to Noris perhaps later than the beginning of 419.3 He may even have written it toward the end of 418. In any event he wrote it after the condemnation of Pelagius and Caelestius.4

Augustine gives the title Illustrious Count to Valerius.5 He was employed in public affairs in the war office, not in the judiciary.6 Noris believes he was the caretaker of a private estate in 425, consul in 432, and Master of Offices in 435, all in the East under Theodosius the Younger.7 This opinion is difficult to support. These duties are not military and Theodosius’ officers had nothing in common with the officers of Honorius. Nothing prevents us however from believing Count Valerius possessed land near Rimini as found in Eusebius’ letter to Cyril.8

In writing Valerius, Augustine treated him as a child of God and co-heir of the Church, meaning he was a faithful baptized Christian.9 He had a pure faith, piously awaited the life to come, and loved both God and neighbor.10 He was not proud of his secular honors and placed his confidence in God alone, not in wealth. Valerius was rich in good works and carefully observed conjugal chastity as those knowledgeable of...

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