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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 341: Augustine and an Arian Bishop

Extract

ARTICLE 341

Augustine and an Arian Bishop

Augustine had apparently begun Contra Iulianum opus imperfectum IV when he was obliged to interrupt it for indispensable matters, perhaps writing Contra Maximinum or responding to Prosper’s and Hilary’s letters on semi-Pelagiansm. Contra Maximinum stems from a conference with an Arian bishop at the end 428; a sermon on Arianism apparently preached on Christmas day, 428 is extant.1 Florus copied this sermon nearly whole and entire in his series on the Epistle to the Romans. Possidius refers to this sermon: Augustine preached on Jn. 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life” when the pagans entered the city.2

Maximinus had come to Hippo at Sigisvult’s order,3 with peace in view—Possidius does not explain this remark. According to Possidius, Maximinus claimed to have an assembly of brothers and disciples. Augustine chased him off and tried to unite the church by detailed exhortations and a sermon on the indivisibility of God. Sigisvult may have placed Goth soldiers in the city’s garrison, but the Catholics remained in the majority. Maximinus feared use of imperial law against him and saw Augustine as a man with the authority of princes.

At first Maximinus conferred peacefully with Heraclius. After Heraclius challenged him, Heraclius sought Augustine. Augustine apparently had already spoken against Maximinus since in the conference Maximinus complains of Augustine’s insults. His complaint may have come from the sermon on Christmas Day in which Augustine mentioned...

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