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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 74: Council of Syria


NOTE 741

Council of Syria

If Pelagius’ accusers before Theodotius of Antioch were Heros and Lazarus, they were forced to make their accusations earlier than convenient for them.2 Pelagius and Caelestius had been absolved in 415 by the bishops of Palestine. According to Garnier, Theodotius and Prayle had written against Pelagius in 417 before knowing of Innocent’s death.

Noris dates the Council of Antioch no earlier than 421.3 He claims Theodotius had been consecrated bishop in that year. It is unlikely Prayle had written both in behalf of and against Pelagius at nearly the same time. Prayle was consecrated bishop in 417 and had written the pope in favor of Pelagius at that time. The letter arrived in Rome in September, 417. On the other hand, according to Mercator, immediately after the Council of Antioch, Prayle exiled Pelagius from Jerusalem and wrote against him to the pope.4 According to Garnier’s deductions, Prayle had condemned Pelagius with Theodotius at the Council of Antioch. That could be true, but Mercator does not prove it. Garnier at least recognizes Zosimus had not yet spoken of the Council of Antioch when he wrote the Africans in March, 418. Thus, it is likely that this council should be dated after Zosimus’ condemnation of Pelagius in 418 and may have been as late as the end of 420 at the earliest. If Jerome († September 30, 420) had been in position to report to Augustine the agreeable news of the condemnation...

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