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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 59: Orosius’ Apologia


NOTE 591

Orosius’ Apologia

Several scholars reject the authenticity of Orosius’ Apologia.2 Some historians confuse the conference of Jerusalem which Orosius mentions with the Council of Diospolis which he certainly did not attend. Others find at the end of the Apologia large passages taken verbatim from Augustine’s De natura et gratia which Orosius had never seen.3 But Scot and Vossius remark these passages are not part of Orosius’s original work and have been added later confusedly and haphazardly.4 In manuscripts a notebook of one author placed among the work of another is often found. These additions to the book ordinarily have neither sense nor purpose. If the added passages are removed, all follows well. In addition, in this case these passages have been stricken in later editions.

There is then no reason to doubt the authenticity of this writing. Vossius maintains it. Several capable scholars remark it is written in the same style as Orosius’ Historia.5 The facts reported in Apologia are not contrary to Augustine and are actually authenticated by him. Orosius’ report also serves to clarify Augustine’s remarks.

Some scholars object Pelagius would not have deceived the Council of Diospolis, if his heresy had been discovered previously by Orosius. But condemnation of this heresy was also present in Augustine’s works. Augustine’s works are cited in the memorandum read in the Council of Diospolis and in Jerome’s works. Orosius had written in Latin as a declared adversary of Pelagius. John of...

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