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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 313: Enchiridion




422 A.D.

Augustine wrote Enchiridion (Manual) in 421 or later since in it he describes Jerome as of happy memory.2 In Retractationes Augustine places this work immediately after Contra Iulianum.3 He cites it in Quaestiones ad Dulcitium written in 424.4 Augustine addresses Enchiridion to Laurence whom he calls brother of the tribune Dulcitius (the term “brother” is apparently to be understood literally).5 Laurence is erudite and perhaps the principal notary of the Roman church. He wrote Augustine requesting a book to serve as a manual of Christian belief.6 This work was not to leave his hands.7 From it he wanted to learn the following: the essence of Catholic belief; various heresies; the basis for religion; avoidance of pagan religion (he lets that suffice since he finds himself too weak to pursue it); the beginning and end of our hope; an abridgement of Christian teaching; and the foundation of Catholic belief. He wanted a brief explanation of all these matters.8

Augustine loved Laurence and desired to number him among the wise.9 Augustine agreed to write the requested instruction. All his questions could be reduced to faith, hope, and charity.10 Therefore in this manual Augustine treats these virtues and entitles the work Enchiridion de fide, spe, et caritate.11 Possidius lists it under the same title.12 Augustine leaves to Laurence’s discretion to call it an Enchiridion if he so wishes.13 Fulgentius calls it Liber de fide, spe, et caritate to ← 298...

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