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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 81: Quaestiones ad Dulcitium

Extract

NOTE 811

Quaestiones ad Dulcitium

The text of Quaestiones ad Dulcitium reports that Easter Sunday that year was the third of the kalends of April, March 30.2 The same date is read in all manuscripts and printed versions.3 Bucherius notes Easter was on March 30 during Augustine’s episcopacy only in 419 and 430.4 No one says the book to Dulcitius was written in 430 if only because Retractationes where this work is noted does not cover works in that year. The year 419 would then remain as the year of composition. Augustine was in Carthage at the end of May where he had spent the three months after Easter.

This opinion is apparently well founded, but can not be followed: this treatise cites Enchiridion which could not have been written before 421 since Augustine calls Jerome “of happy memory.”5 According to Prosper, Jerome died on September 30, 420. Jerome had written Augustine in 419 which supposes he was still living in September, 419.6

There must be an error in Augustine’s text. Instead of III kal. Apr., we might read VII kal. Apr. (March 26) or XI kal. Apr (March 22). In 422 Easter occurred March 22. Bucherius indicates some Latins celebrated Easter in 425 on this date. Likely the church of Hippo was among this number.

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