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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 354: Post Mortem Miscellanea

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ARTICLE 354

Post Mortem Miscellanea

Possidius, bishop of Calama, who lived with Augustine for nearly forty years wrote his biography from what he had personally experienced.1 He believed he should use his God-given talents to edify the Catholic Church. To satisfy those desirous of truth, he accompanied Augustine’s life story with a list of his works. Those preferring divine truth to this world’s wealth could choose from among the multitude of his writings those most suitable for them and communicate them without envy to those in need. When he wrote this work, apparently after the death of Boniface in 432 or later, Hippo had already been burned. Indiculum was written prior to 439 when Vandals seized Carthage. Carthage and Cirta still existed then, were not destroyed, and were preserved by divine providence and human power.

Isidore of Seville mentions Possidius’ Vita Augustini and the table of his works adjoining it.2 Cassiodorus mentions this table and admires how many works Augustine had written.3 Isidore remarks we find more than four hundred writings, in addition to an infinite number of letters, homilies, and questions.4 After indicating more than a thousand writings, Possidius confessed countless others which Augustine had not numbered.5 As a result, according to Isidore transcribing Augustine’s many works would be difficult.6 Possidius said a scholar would have difficulty reading everything he wrote.7

Our memoire contains notes on his books and letters following as much as possible the dates when he wrote them....

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