The Relationship of the So-Called Semi-Pelagians and Eastern Greek Theology on the Doctrine of Original Sin
: An Historical-Systematic Analysis and its Relevance for 21st Century Protestantism.

  • Thomas Kurt Jaros

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


The theological study of the so-called Semi-Pelagianshas been minimal relative to the study of Augustine of Hippo. Nevertheless, the monks hailing from the southern portion of Roman Gaul were the first critical respondents to Augustine’s doctrine of grace, providing an important perspective for those that had concern over some of his positions, specifically with regard to free will and predestination. This study builds upon the pre-existing work by scholars who have written on the Gallic monks, arguing that they were not building a middle ground between Pelagius and Augustine but instead part of a larger tradition from Eastern Greek theology.It also cautions against recent attempts to reinterpret the Gallic monks as sympathetic to Augustine.Where this study breaks new ground is in couching the source of disagreement between the monks of southern Gaul and the Bishop of Hippo within the doctrine of Original Sin, not over free will and predestination as many scholars to date have done. Scholars who have studied the Gallic monks have noted that their view of grace and free will had strong eastern influence, and in this study it will be shown that the Gallic monks align more closely withthe eastern tradition in their statements concerning or even implied from Original Sin. Because there are many misunderstandings about the Gallic monks, we first provide a thorough historical background to the situation that gave rise to the concerns against Augustine’s later writings. Then we describe Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin and its Latin precedent. Next we establishthe monolithic view of the Greek patristics on two critical aspects of Original Sin: a denial of the inheritance of the actual guilt of Adam and a rejection that lapsarian humans are unable to do anything toward their own salvation apart from superadded grace. Then we analyze the thought of three voices of the so-called Semi-Pelagians: John Cassian, Vincent of Lérins, and Faustus of Riez. We will argue that these three voices did not have Augustinian sympathies regardinggrace, free will, andthose two critical aspects of Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin. Finally, we will show that it is important for the 5thcentury Gallic view to have a place in the contemporary Protestant discourses on Original Sin and ordo salutis.
Date of Award20 Feb 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Aberdeen
SupervisorNick Needham (Supervisor) & Robert Shillaker (Supervisor)

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