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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 299: Quaestiones Heptateuchi; Locutiones Heptateuchi

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ARTICLE 299

Quaestiones Heptateuchi; Locutiones Heptateuchi

Not much time passed between Augustine’s writing De nuptiis et concupiscentia I and II. The second book was written concurrently with Contra duas epistulas Pelagianorum ad Bonifatium.1 However, in Retractationes Augustine places a large number of works between the two. The first of these works is the seven books of Locutiones Heptateuchi (the Pentateuch, Joshua, and Judges).2 The second of these works comprises seven books of Quaestiones Heptateuchi dealing with the same books.3 He worked on them concurrently. Augustine places Locutiones first in Retractationes; however if one is written before the other, Locutiones should come later since in it Quaestiones is cited three times.4

Augustine writes Quaestiones by reading and comparing various examplars of the Septuagint.5 He joins the texts of Aquila and Theodotius, and at times doubtless Jerome’s Hebrew text.6 The Latins have no other work carrying this title. The Latin scripture text cited is the Vulgate. Augustine writes on difficulties encountered in reading Scripture. He is content merely to indicate some problems while examining others in passing. He resolves only those difficulties which are capable of short explanation.7 Augustine did not claim to treat those matters in depth. Rather he wished to write a memoire to ascertain either the difficulties to be examined or his solutions already given. For this reason the work is entitled Quaestiones.8

The majority of difficulties has been treated with sufficient clarity and resolution. Those which he notes without...

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