Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 801
Augustine, bishop of Hippo Regius (North Africa) criticises the Presbyter Peter for following the erroneous opinions of a lay man, Vincentius Victor, on the nature of the soul. Augustine, "The Nature and Origin of the Soul", AD 419/420.
Book 2
Domino dilectissimo fratri et compresbytero Petro Augustinus episcopus in Domino salutem.
1. [...] Quomodo autem eosdem libros ipse acceperis nescio; uerum tamen, si uerum est quod audiui, diceris eis recitatis ita exiluisse laetitia, ut caput iuuenis illius senex et laici presbyter osculatus didicisse te quod ignorabas gratias egeris. [...] Vellem itaque rescriptis tuis quid te docuerit me doceres. Absit enim, ut erubescam a presbytero discere, si a laico tu non erubuisti praedicanda et imitanda humilitate, si uera didicisti.
4. [...] Nullo modo tamen etiam id de te existimauerim, quod homo catholicus neque contemptibilis presbyter animae naturam portionem Dei sentiebas esse. [...]
6. [...] Abice, frater, abice, obsecro, istam non plane fidem, sed exsecrandae impietatis errorem, ne homo grauis seductus a iuuene et a laico presbyter, cum istam catholicam fidem esse arbitraris, de numero fidelium - quod a te auertat Dominus. [...]
9. [...] O doctrinam, cui omnis aetas aures subrigat, quae homines annosos, quae denique presbyteros mereatur habere discipulos. [...]
(ed. C. Urba, J. Zycha 1913: 336.338.340.342)
Book 2
The bishop Augustine sends greeting in the Lord to Peter, his beloved brother and fellow presbyter.
1. […] I do not know how you have interperted those books [of Vincentius Victor], but, if what I have heard is true, you jumped for joy when they were read, and you, though an old man and a presbyter, kissed the head of a young layman [Vincentius Victor], in gratitude for having learned what you had not known.
[…] I would like, then, that you inform me in your reply what he has taught you. Heaven forbid, after all, that I should be embarassed to learn from a presbyter, if you were not embarassed to learn from a layman with a humilty worth of praise and imitation, if indeed you have learned something.
4. [...] I would, nonetheless, never have dreamed that you, a Catholic and a respected presbyter, thought that the nature of the soul was to be a piece of God. [...]
6. [...] Reject, my brother, I beg you, reject not this faith, of course, but the error filled with detestable impiety. Otherwise you will be cut off from the number of the faithful – God keep you from that! - when you suppose that such is the Catholic faith, you an old man and a presbyter led astray by a young layman! [...]
9.  [...]  There is a doctrine [that the incorporeal God does not create out of nothing, but exhales from himself a corporeal breath] that will make every age perk up its ears! There is a doctrine that deserves to have people of many years and even presbyters as its disciples!
(trans. R. Teske, slightly altered)


See also [800].

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Hippo Regius

About the source:

Author: Augustine of Hippo
Title: The Nature and Origin of the Soul, De natura et origine animae
Origin: Hippo Regius (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
"The Nature and Origin of the Soul", written by Augustine in AD 419/420, consists of four books, all of them occasioned by the work of Vincentius Victor, a Catholic lay man, ex-Rogatist (a faction of the Donatists), that were polemic to Augustine`s views on the origins of the soul. The first book of "The Nature and Origin of the Soul" is addressed to a monk Renatus, who passed to Augustine the works of Vincentius Victor, the second one to the Presbyter Peter, the third and the fourth to Vincentius Victor himself.
C. Urba, J. Zycha eds., Sancti Aureli Augustini de natura et origine animae libri quattuor, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 60, Vienna-Leipzig 1913, 303-419.
Saint Augustine, The Nature and Origin of the Soul, in: Answer to the Pelagians, New York 1996, trans. R. Teske, 467-559.


Writing activity - Correspondence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Education - Theological interest
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER801,