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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 52: De ciuitate dei (1)


NOTE 521

De ciuitate dei (1)

The writing of the first part of De ciuitate dei should be deferred until 413. Letter 169 was written when Orosius was in Palestine in 415. There Augustine mentions since Lent of that year he had added two books to the three books of De ciuitate dei already written. Thus, he had written the first three books shortly before. If they were not addressed to the tribune Marcellinus we would date them in 414. The address to Marcellinus obliges us to date the first books before his death on September 13, 413. However they were begun not long previously. After the beginning of De ciuitate dei II Augustine never addresses himself to Marcellinus again. This fact indicates the remainder of the work was written after his death.

The questions Augustine treats in the letters to Volusianus (412) are the same as the subjects of De ciuitate dei I-III. Nevertheless he did not send these books to Marcellinus who ought to have had more knowledge of this work than any other person. Marcellinus had even asked Augustine to write books on these questions and assured him they would be useful for the Church Augustine responds he wishes to treat them non sic quemadmodum de his agendum est librorum negotio, sed quemadmodum potest epistolari sat esse colloquio. These words indicate at the beginning of 412 Augustine had not yet intended to write De ciuitate dei. ← 427 | 428 →

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