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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 57: Bishops Paul and Eutropius

Extract

NOTE 571

Bishops Paul and Eutropius

Orosius mentions a memorandum of Bishops Paul and Eutropius to Augustine concerning heresies and other matters.2 Augustine addresses De perfectione iustitiae against Caelestius to them. Nothing more is known of them. The doctors of Leuven and Noris call them bishops in Gaul, but give no reason. From what Orosius writes, it would be just as easy to believe they came from Spain whence several other bishops followed them. The Benedictines mention nothing of their country of origin.

The memorandum itself may well have dealt with Pelagianism. That would then be the reason Augustine addressed De perfectione iustitiae to them. Noris holds this opinion because Augustine makes no other response to them.3 This is a good reason. On the other hand, Possidius places De perfectione iustitiae following De natura et gratia which was completed after Orosius left Africa to find Jerome.4 Augustine advises Orosius to take this trip in the work Augustine addressed to him in response to Orosius’ memorandum after Paul and Eutropius had presented theirs to him.5 Augustine does not say Paul and Eutropius requested De perfectione iustitiae in their memorandum.

Probably Orosius’ memorandum concerned heresies in Spain other than Pelagianism. According to Orosius, Paul and Eutropius had indicated some heresies, but not all. Augustine was obliged to gather promptly the essence of Priscillianism and Origenism with their various roots and branches. Orosius supposes these heresies were of the same genre and thus Augustine could...

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