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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 65: African Bishops and Zosimus

Extract

NOTE 651

African Bishops and Zosimus

According to a capable scholar, the African bishops received letters from Innocent and somewhat later received the news of his death.2 The African bishops held a council to publish his letters and to write Zosimus, particularly when they knew Caelestius was traveling to Rome. It is doubtful Zosimus’ third letter had anything important to prove on this point. In his letter to the Africans, Zosimus writes he is hastening to examine the Caelestius’ affair, ne paternitatis vestrae de adventu ac discussione praedicti diutius penderet exspectatio.3 From this statement it can be taken the Africans had already learned Caelestius was going to Rome and Zosimus knew they had learned it. This passing of information could have happened without the African bishops writing to Zosimus either in Council or individually. However, the simplest meaning of these words is Caelestius was at Rome, the Africans knew it immediately, and were anxious concerning how he would be received. This obliged Zosimus to examine his affair quickly to be able to report some news. Likely Augustine did not know Caelestius was in Rome since he says earlier in Carthage after the letters of the two councils of 416 to Innocent the case was closed.4 On December 23, 417 Zosimus’ letter had been written, but apparently had not yet arrived in Africa.

What Zosimus adds ad litteras Herotis et Lazari priori relatione destinatas and so forth shows the Africans had already written and sent...

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