Saturday, June 04, 2016


Sniffing Out Heresy

James J. O'Donnell, Augustine: A New Biography (New York: Ecco, 2005), pp. 144-145, with note on p. 355:
[W]e are indebted to Consentius for what is in many ways the funniest story (Evelyn Waugh before his time) of late-antique Christian heresy-hunting. In a letter to Augustine, Consentius tells of sending an orthodox spy from Minorca to the mainland of Spain to infiltrate the "Priscillianists" there.255 The spy is about as successful as one would expect a half-trained FBI agent to be on attempting to infiltrate a communist cell in Ogallala, Nebraska, in the 1950s, when the "cell" turned out to be three local schoolteachers and a librarian who enjoyed sharing copies of the New Republic and talking about them at coffee hour after church on Sunday. Every appearance of success is reported back to headquarters, but we have to doubt whether the object of the infiltration is what the secret agent thinks it is. When the matter finally comes into the open, Consentius is dismayed that the Spanish bishops who take up the matter are far less seriously moved than he thinks they ought to be, and his indignation is marked throughout his long letter to Augustine.

255 Ep. 11*.
Id., p. 338:
Where the letter number is marked by an asterisk (*) the reference is to the new series of letters discovered by Johannes Divjak and published at Vienna in 1981.
For the Latin text of Consentius' letter see
The Latin text can also be found online here.

For English translations of the letter see

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?