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The Letters of Pelagius and His Followers.

An important contribution to studies of Pelagius and the social and religious world of the late-fourth- and early-fifth-century West. Translated here are five letters and treatises attributed to Pelagius by R. F. Evans (1968): To Demetrias, On Virginity, On the Divine Law, On the Christian Life, and To Celantia; six Pelagian treatises first edited by C. P. Caspari (1890): To an Older Friend, To a Young Man, On the Possibility of Not Sinning, On Riches, On Bad Teachers, and On Chastity; and seven miscellaneous works. With the exception of the Caspari corpus (which was translated under the title The Works of Fastidius by R. S. T. Haslehurst in 1927), most of these documents have never before been fully translated into English.

The translation of each text is prefaced with a brief introduction that provides the date, if known, and the likely situation of its author, if known. The general introduction to the volume gives an excellent overview of the world of Pelagius and a fine orientation to the current, complex state of Pelagian studies. Rees, the author of a good recent monograph on Pelagius (cf. TS 50 [1989] 398-99), is by training a classicist, and his rendering of the Latin is both literal and readable.

The Pelagius and Pelagians revealed in these texts are a far cry from the caricatures of heresiologists. Pelagius taught for two decades in the church at Rome without, it seems, arousing any opposition. He was by all accounts an effective, if austere, moral teacher. The traditions represented by Pelagius were deeply rooted in late ancient Christianity, both East and West. Patristic scholars and students of early Christian ethics and asceticism should know this book; it may also serve as a salutary reminder to systematic and dogmatic theologians that labels of "Pelagian" may not always fit historical reality.
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Author:Hunter, David G.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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