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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 91: Hilary of Arles

Extract

NOTE 911

Hilary of Arles

For a long time the Hilary who wrote Augustine with Prosper against the Semi-Pelagians was believed to be Hilary, bishop of Arles.2 It is astonishing that anyone believed this. Prosper tells us Hilary was a bishop at the time when both wrote to Augustine. The man who wrote with Prosper is clearly a layman.3

To solve this disharmony, Vossius wishes Honoratum to be read in place of Hilarium where Prosper speaks of the bishop of Arles.4 There is reason to believe Hilary was not yet bishop in 428–429 and Eucher wrote Augustine circa 1185 according to Roman reckoning which may be 432 or 433.5 Eucher writes: Hilarius nuper, et in Italia nunc antistes Petronius ambo ex illa plenissima, ut aiunt mundanae potestatis sede, unus in religionis, alius in sacerdotis nomen ascendit. From this passage, Rohweide concludes Hilary was not yet bishop in 433.6

A problem exists with this passage. The opposition between nuper and nunc apparently indicates this Hilary was dead. This can not be understood of Hilary of Arles. If we wish to understand the word means he had retired somewhat earlier, which is a less natural sense, it would still be difficult to accord with the history of Hilary of Arles who was at Lerins some time before the episcopacy of Honoratus and thus six or seven years before Eucher wrote this letter.

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