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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 308: Julian of Eclanum (2)

Extract

ARTICLE 308

Julian of Eclanum (2)

Julian was the son of bishop Memorius, Augustine’s and Paulinus’ close friend. Instead of becoming a saint Julian unfortunately became a heretic, an important supporter of Pelagius, and an insolent enemy of Christ’s grace.1 A clearer proof of the impenetrability of divine judgments can not be found. Julian fought to render human free will the master of all. His arrogance is noteworthy in his writings.2 No vice obliges God more to remove his grace from a man and leave him to his own devices.

When Julian began to be infected by Pelagianism is unknown. Bede reports he was instructed by Pelagius as a child and his “basilicum” was nourished in Jerome’s cavern where he wrote Contra Pelagianos in 415.3 What conclusions can be drawn from this unlikely metaphor (which is literally false) is difficult to say. Julian was not a child in 415 and no sign exists to indicate he was in Palestine with Pelagius. He had known Pelagius in 408–410 before he left Rome. Julian could be one of those concerning whom Augustine had written to Paulinus in 417 soon after Innocent’s death.4 They said they would abandon Pelagius and recognize original sin. However, these men were from Nola.

On the other hand, Augustine says that had Julian listened to Pope Innocent he would have disengaged himself in his youth from Pelagianism.5 Clearly then he was involved in this error before Innocent condemned it.6...

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