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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 346: Dioscorus




Augustine submitted to Quoduultdeus’ request,2 especially considering the deacon’s name “what God wishes.” A priest from Fussale was to travel to Carthage. Augustine re-read Quoduultdeus’ first letter, intending to begin a part of this work and send it to him, to show him the difficulty of the task. However Augustine could do nothing because of other occupations which obliged him to interrupt even his response to Julian. These occupations were apparently his refutation of Maximinus and his response to Prosper and Hilary. Augustine is content to recommend the priest of Fussale and his problem to Quoduultdeus. He told Quoduultdeus, after he finished what occupied him and had responded to the five books of Julian, he would begin his work on the list of heresies and continue Retractationes, giving the night to the one and the day to the other, if Julian’s last three books would not arrive previously.

Augustine finished what he had promised and began work on De haeresibus at the end 429 or the beginning 430. He does not follow Quoduultdeus’ idea of placing vis-a-vis each heresy the corresponding orthodox belief. Augustine thought it sufficient to know the belief of the Catholic Church concerning a heresy. As for proving the truth of the Church‘s belief, he judged this to be a task he should not undertake.

Augustine resolved to write a first draft of De haeresibus setting down various heretical sects and their doctrines. He...

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