Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Note 67: Inauthentic Correspondence with Boniface
Inauthentic Correspondence with Boniface
Beyond Augustine’s three large letters to Count Boniface, namely Letter 185, Letter189, and Letter 220, sixteen smaller letters are attributed to Augustine and sent to Boniface.2 The doctors of Leuven and others before and after have remarked these letters bearing Augustine’s name are different in spirit and style and are not cited by any ancient author. Many capable scholars believe they are forged by someone intending guidance in writing. That the thirteenth letter has been cited in the eleventh century does not prove its fifth-century origin.
Baronius defends these letters, but has been reduced to saying that, if they are not Augustine’s, they are surely authentic and written by another illustrious African bishop such as Aurelius of Carthage or Alypius.3 His reason is they conform to the history of this period quite well. The doctors of the Leuven have maintained they are pieces without erudition and believe it unnecessary to attribute them to an illustrious personage.4
As for the historical facts, the majority is unknown and find no corroboration anywhere. The alleged excommunication of Boniface is assuredly neither well founded nor probable. Baronius dates the last five letters in 427 when Mavortius and Placidia’s other generals waged war against Boniface.5 Augustine says he could not write during these perils, as Baronius recognizes.