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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 302: De anima et eius origine (2)

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ARTICLE 302

De anima et eius origine (2)

After writing René, Augustine wrote to Pedro.1 The latter was embarrassed at what Victor had written. Augustine asked Pedro to send him what he had learned that they might rejoice together to approve some of what Victor had written as the Catholic truth and to correct Victor’s errors.2 If what Victor had said of Pedro himself was false, Augustine asks Pedro to assure him of its falsehood.3 He doubted the truth of what was said of Pedro. Augustine itemizes Victor’s errors and refutes them briefly. As Victor had submitted himself to Augustine’s judgment, he was obliged to show Victor his faults and Victor was obliged to correct them.4 Augustine places this letter to Pedro among his works less because of its length than because of its link to his earlier books on the origin and nature of the human soul.5

Augustine had no reason to doubt Victor had read his work to Pedro and René. Augustine addressed a letter to Pedro pointing out his corrections of Victor’s books and beliefs.6 Eleven articles were indicated as inexcusable and contrary to the faith.7 If obstinately defended, these propositions were heretical. Augustine obliges Victor to reject and condemn them without delay if he wishes to be truly Catholic.

If the devil brings you to defend stubbornly what is not pleasing to God, church pastors would be constrained to condemn these heretical opinions and their author before the...

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