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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 94: Sermo 298 (Appendix)

Extract

NOTE 941

Sermo 298 (Appendix)

Sermo 3 de tempore, which the Benedictines have placed as Sermo 298 in the appendix to Augustine’s sermons, was certainly preached at a time and place where the barbarians had destroyed the land2 but in a city not yet delivered over to the barbarians. Many illustrious cities and indeed entire provinces had already been ruined. Up to this point it can be believed this sermon was preached by Augustine during the siege of Hippo, as Baronius wishes.3

The city was besieged by a death-rate so great that those living scarcely sufficed to bury the dead.4 Possidius does not mention the death-rate in Hippo, still less that the siege already reported had taken place during Augustine’s lifetime. Possidius dates the siege later and Augustine died during the course of the siege. Possidius apparently wished to say Hippo had not yet suffered the misfortunes of war when the Vandals were conducting the siege during which Augustine died, ad eandem urbem adhuc in suo statu consistentem.5

Thus, this sermon must have been preached at Carthage or Cirta rather than Hippo. Since the final siege of Hippo happened after Augustine’s death, the sermon was preached at the earliest circa August, 431 or Lent, 432. The title of the sermon in the Leuven edition indicates it was preached the Thursday after Passion Sunday. The citizens may have already abandoned the city to the Vandals. The city where this sermon was preached was...

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