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Disciplining ChristiansCorrection and Community in Augustine’s Letters$
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Jennifer V. Ebbeler

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372564

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372564.001.0001

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The Retrospective Correction of Pelagius

The Retrospective Correction of Pelagius

(p.191) 5 The Retrospective Correction of Pelagius
Disciplining Christians

Jennifer V. Ebbeler

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the first phase (c.410–416) of Augustine's relationship with Pelagius, the British ascetic who replaced the Donatists as his bête noire. Throughout his clerical career, Augustine repeatedly turned to the letter exchange as the first step in correcting error among his fellow Christians. Yet there is no evidence that Augustine ever pursued a corrective correspondence with Pelagius, despite the fact that the two had exchanged at least one set of friendly letters in the early 410s and apparently continued their correspondence until Orosius's arrival in Palestine. Even more striking is Augustine's insistence that in several treatises composed before 416, he had consciously avoided referring to Pelagius by name because he feared that such public correction would damage the relationship. The chapter proposes that the absence of a corrective correspondence between Augustine and Pelagius is not a consequence of Augustine's worries about humiliating Pelagius but is instead the result of Augustine's complete ignorance of Pelagius's theological outlook.

Keywords:   Augustine, Pelagius, letters, corrective correspondence

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