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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 83: Letters to Celestine

Extract

NOTE 831

Letters to Celestine

At one time Du Perron proposed reasons which could cause us to doubt the authenticity of the letter of the African council to Pope Celestine.2 He has since abandoned this opinion and wishes to recognize the piece as legitimate. His former objections affect no one except Capelle. His reasons did not prevent the piece from being recognized by the entire scholarly world as incontestable. David is interested in rejecting this letter, but defends it against du Perron’s doubts.3 Lupus has done the same thing against Capelle who had rejected both the letter to Celestine, the letter to Pope Boniface, and all the acts of the so-called Sixth Council of Carthage as suspect pieces.4

Du Perron still maintains doubts concerning the authenticity of text of the letter to Celestine.5 According to du Perron, the text may have been altered by schismatics of the sixth century or later or the Latin original has been lost in as much as the letter as we possess it is a translation from Greek. Since this letter is found in Latin in Collectio Carthaginensis, in the Code of Dionysius Exiguus, and in other ancient sources, the letter can not be claimed to come from the Greek. The presumption is that the original Latin text is extant in so far as the contrary can not be proved. Du Perron alleges nothing to show the text has been corrupted, but he claims to prove two errors coming...

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