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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 345: De haeresibus

Extract

ARTICLE 345

De haeresibus

Alypius had sent Augustine Julian’s first five books before the other three were copied, with a promise to send the others later.1 Doubtless Alypius sent them since we have Augustine’s response to the sixth. Perhaps he sent them some time later since apparently Augustine had already refuted the first five and had then written De haeresibus before receiving the last three.

The occasion of De haeresibus stems from Quoduultdeus deacon at Carthage. He may be the same person who was later bishop of Carthage in 439 when the city was sacked by the Vandals. Victor of Vite eulogizes him.2 He was a deacon at this time and calls himself ignorant.3 He understands no Greek and had no detailed study of Latin although he writes it rather well. He had not studied rhetoric. He had sent Augustine the acts of a council concerning Manicheanism.4

Quoduultdeus considered how much God-given grace Augustine possessed for instructing others.5 Led by Christ, Augustine received with good will those who addressed him and even invited those who feared burdening him. Quoduultdeus resolved to write Augustine requesting a treatise on all heresies from the beginning of the Church. He asked Augustine to record heretical teachings as contrary to truth, what Scripture and reason furnished to refute them, how the Church received heretics after they retracted, and whom the Church admitted or rejected for baptism. Refutation of all heresies was a work of almost infinite magnitude....

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