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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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Note 50: Council of Carthage against Caelestius


NOTE 501

Council of Carthage against Caelestius

The Council of Carthage (416) reports Caelestius had been condemned by the African church nearly five years previously, ante ferme quinquennium, thus in 411 or the beginning of 412.2 The end of 411 is preferable for the following reasons.

In Letter 139 Augustine writes he had just finished Breuiculus collationis cum Donatistis, Post collationem contra Donatistas, and De peccatorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo paruulorum I-II. He was working on De peccatorum meritis et remissione et de baptismo paruulorum III, and his response to Honoratus (Letter 140, De gratia noui testamenti). All these works were written concurrently. In Retractationes he mentions a letter to the Donatists and says he had treated the same matter in another letter, in quadam rursus ad eosdem epistola, in the name of the Council of Cirthe or Zerte (Letter 141 dated June 14, 412).3 The word rursus indicates it was written after the great work against the Donatists. Both Post collationem and the other works written concurrently must be dated before the June, 412, since these writings, or at least those against the Pelagians, come after the condemnation of Caelestius.4 Thus this condemnation should be dated in 411 and the writings following dated from the beginning of 412, no later than June. ← 425 | 426 →

1     See Art. 226.

2     Letter 175.

3     Retractationes II,40.

4     Retractationes II,33.

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