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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 69: Zosimus’ Letter


NOTE 691

Zosimus’ Letter

Zosimus’ letter to the African bishops in favor of Caelestius is to be dated in 417 with no precise day expressed.2 However, as the end of the Caelestius affair is joined to the Pelagius affair, this letter was likely not written before September 21 when Zosimus had already written concerning Pelagius. In fact, these letters could have been sent simultaneously. Basiliscus was sent from Rome with the acts against Pelagius.3 He does not mention Paulinus of Carthage going to Rome to respond to Caelestius’ allegations on November 2, 417. This fact leads us to believe he had also brought Zosimus’ letter in behalf of Caelestius.

However, from the fact the letter on Pelagius is dated September 21, one scholar claims the Caelestius affair was treated in Rome in June and July and the two month delay given by Zosimus to the Africans had passed before Zosimus wrote to Africa on Pelagius.4 Nothing obliges us to say these two months had ended—the letter of September 21 was written on another incident. If these two months had already passed, either Zosimus had given communion to Caelestius and had mentioned it in his letter on Pelagius or he had indicated why he had not rendered it. He made other pleas concerning the fact that no one had come from Africa to act against Caelestius. Concerning what he says, Ubi Heros? Ubi Lazarus? he did not claim Heros and Lazarus should have come...

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