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Augustinian Studies

Volume 51, Issue 1, 2020

Geoffrey D. Dunn
Pages 23-46

Boniface I, Augustine, and the Translation of Honorius to Caesarea Mauretaniae 

Augustine’s Epistulae 23A*, 23*, and 22*, written in late 419 and early 420, present his involvement in the dispute concerning the translation of Honorius to Caesarea Mauretaniae (modern Cherchell), a city Augustine had visited in September 418 while fulfilling a commission from Zosimus of Rome. The translation of bishops from one church to another had been condemned by the 325 Council of Nicaea. The three letters are difficult to interpret because the information to his three correspondents (Possidius of Calama, Renatus, a monk of Caesarea Mauretaniae, and Alypius of Thagaste, who was in Italy at the time) seems to differ. A careful reading reveals that not only did Augustine’s knowledge of the situation change over time, but that the stress he placed on differing elements of that situation also changed depending upon the correspondent. The letters also disclose the involvement of Boniface I of Rome, Zosimus’ successor, and the complex relationship of the African churches with the bishop of Rome, especially in the matter of judicial appeal. What is suggested here is that Augustine, without saying so, seemed to be aware of the criteria Boniface had employed in another translation controversy, which was the approved translation of Perigenes as bishop of Corinth, and that, if applied to Honorius, this would lead the Roman bishop to reach a very different conclusion.

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