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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 72: Canons of the Council of Mileve (416)


NOTE 721

Canons of the Council of Mileve (416)

The canons of the African councils on grace are attributed by Isidore’s Collection to the first Council of Mileve (402) ten years before the Pelagian heresy arose.2 Baronius believes they were enacted in the second Council of Mileve (416), and repeated in the Council of Carthage (418).3 According to Rivius they are doubtless from the latter.4 Besides the Collectio Carthaginensis which expressly attributes these canons to the Council of Carthage (May 1, 418), the most ancient manuscripts attribute them to the same council. Photius attributes the nine canons against the Pelagians to the great Council of Carthage—he has seen these acts.5 He indicates three in particular, the first two of the eight in question together with one anathematizing those admitting a median place between paradise and hell where infants dying without baptism are to live happily.

The letter of the second Council of Mileve to Innocent does not mention these canons which had certainly been sent to the pope for authorization.6 The Council of Mileve was a provincial council of Numidia. According to Augustine, a general council of Africa had decreed against the Pelagian errors.7 He indicates clearly these nine canons. Pope Celestine, or at least an edition of his letter, cites verbatim the words of canons three, four, and five under the Council of Carthage.8

The Council of Mileve requested the pope to condemn two Pelagian errors, one against the...

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