Pelagius's Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans

Pelagius's Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans

Pelagius's Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans

Pelagius's Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans


The Pelagian controversy has secured an enduring place for Pelagius in the history of Western Christian thought. Few of Pelagius' writings, however, have been preserved, and until recently none was available in English translation. This volume presents Pelagius' commentary on Romans for the first time in English. The commentary, one of thirteen on the Pauline epistles, dates from the time when Pelagius was active in Rome, before he became embroiled in controversy, but already there are adumbrations of the later debate and signs of different currents of thought in Italy and beyond. In his introduction Theodore de Bruyn discusses the context in which Pelagius wrote the commentary and the issues which shaped his interpretation of Romans. He also takes up questions about the edition of the commentary. The translation is annotated with references to Pelagius' contemporaries, and a new recension of Pelagius' text of Romans is presented in an appendix.


Despite the importance of Pelagius for the history of western theology, his writings have not been available in English. As a result his work has been inaccessible to many, and his thought usually presented in the terms of his opponent Augustine. Happily, this deficiency has been remedied for the letters with the recent translation by B. R. Rees. The present work turns to the commentaries on the Pauline epistles, the largest of Pelagius's extant works, and offers an English translation of the commentary on Romans.

The translation is prefaced by an introduction and accompanied by notes. Those reading Petagius for the first time will find in the introduction an account of the events and issues which shaped his interpretation of Romans. In approaching the commentary, I have relied heavily on the commentaries Pelagius himself used, as well as other contemporary writings. For this the papers of A. J. Smith have been indispensable. The parallels discovered by Smith, and those I have found, have been adduced in the notes to the translation. Regrettably, I did not have access to Lommatzsch's edition of Origen on Romans when I undertook this study, and consequently resorted to Patrologia Graeca. The first volume of the new edition of Origen's text by C. P. Hammond Bammel in the Vetus Latina series 'Aus der Geschichte der lateinischen Bibel' appeared when the study was in its last stages.

The translation follows Alexander Souter's edition for Pelagius's comments, but replaces Souter's lemmata with a new recension of the biblical text (see Introduction and Appendix). In general the English remains close to the Latin, but because Pelagius's remarks are elliptical I have found it necessary on occasion to elaborate. With Pelagius's language for human beings I have tried to be inclusive of both sexes, but the constraints of ancient discourse have led me to use the masculine pronoun when referring to both.

This work had its beginnings in a doctoral dissertation at the University of St Michael's College in the Toronto School of Theology. I am much indebted to Professors J. E. McWilliam and C. J. McDonough, my directors, for their time and advice. Further . . .

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