Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 954
Orosius, presbyter from Braga (Iberian Peninsula) composes the Book in Defence against the Pelagians (Liber Apologeticus) as a consequence of his participation in the conference presided over by John, bishop of Jerusalem (East) in AD 415. He addresses his work to the priests present at this assembly.
1. Possibilitatis non est neque praesumptionis meae, beatissimi sacerdotes, sed artissimae ac paene extremae, ut ipsi agnoscitis, necessitatis, ut ego nunc uidear. quod quidem ut facerem, iniuria coactus sum, non solum defensor fidei meae sed etiam perfidiae manifestator alienae. [...]
Orosius defends the necessity to defend the Catholic faith against heretics, especially the Origenists, Priscillianists, Jovinianists, and Pelagians. He refers to the biblical passages, and compares himself to David fighting "the Goliath of heresies."
3. [...] uos me participem certaminis uestri esse uoluistis, ut auxiliator non auctor accederem. latebam siquidem in Bethleem, ignotus aduena pauper - quid miser ego sic loquor, iterum forsitan iactantiae notandus? quoniam quidem et ipse Dauid et talis et inde processit - latebam ergo in Bethleem, traditus a patre Augustino, ut timorem Domini discerem sedens ad pedes Hieronymi. inde Hierusalem uobis accersientibus uocatus adueni; dehinc in conuentum uestrum una uobiscum Iohanne episcopo praecipiente conscendi. ilico a pusillitate mea postulastis uniuersi, ut si quid super hac haeresi, quam Pelagius et Caelestius seminarunt, in Africa gestum esse cognoscerem fideliter ac simpliciter indicarem. [...]
(ed. Zangemaister 1882: 603, 606-607)
1. Most reverend fathers, this is not something which I have instigated nor is it a mark of my own presumption, but rather, as you yourselves recognize, it is of the most dire and even desperate necessity that I now appear. Indeed, I have been forced to do this because of an injustice done to me, and now I stand not only as a defender of my faith but also as a witness to another's faithlessness. [...]
Orosius defends the necessity to defend the Catholic faith against heretics, especially the Origenists, Priscillianists, Jovinianists, and Pelagians. He refers to the biblical passages, and compares himself to David fighting "the Goliath of heresies."
3. [...] It was you who wanted me to be a participant in your struggle, to come as a helper, not as the champion. In as much as I lay in obscurity at Bethlehem, a foreigner, penniless and unknown, why am I, an unfortunate man speaking this way, perhaps to be reprimanded again for boasting? Indeed, David himself was also such a man and he, too, came from that place. So, I lay in obscurity at Bethlehem, having been instructed by father Augustine to learn the fear of the Lord by sitting at the feet of Jerome. From there I travelled to Jerusalem, called by your summons. After this I came up to your assembly, together with you, on the orders of Bishop John. There all of you requested from my insignificant person that I disclose truthfully and simply whether I knew anything that had occurred in Africa concerning that heresy which Pelagius and Caelestius have sown. [...]
(trans. Hanson 1999: 118)


For Caelestius, disciple of Pelagius and presbyter see [205].

Place of event:

  • East
  • Latin North Africa
  • Jerusalem
  • Bethlehem

About the source:

Author: Orosius
Title: Liber apologeticus, Book in defense against the Pelagians
Origin: Jerusalem (East)Bethlehem (East),
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Orosius was born most probably in Spain (maybe in Braga) and was ordained presbyter some time before AD 415 (Augustine calls him compresbyter in his letter 166 [604]). He left Spain at the beginning of the fifth century, probably because of the barbarian invasions, and arrived in North Africa where he met Augustine of Hippo. Then he travelled to the Holy Land where he obtained the relics of St Stephen see [402] and [1341]. In Jerusalem in July 415 he took part in a conference organised by Bishop John on Pelagius and his teachings. Orosius and the other Latin visitors were strongly opposed to Pelagius, whereas Bishop John supported him. The conference ended inconclusively, but in the autumn John accused Orosius of blasphemy, saying that he had claimed that a person cannot live without sin even with God`s help. As a consequence, Orosius composed the Liber apologeticus in which he refuted John`s accusations and attacked Pelagius. Nevertheless the council in Diospolis in 415 declared Pelagius innocent of heresy. (Hanson 1999: 100–104).
K. Zangemaister, Orosius, Liber apologeticus, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 5, Vienna 1882, ss. 603-664
C.L. Hanson trans., Orosius, Book in defence against the Pelagians, in: Iberian Fathers, v. 3, Washington 1999, pp. 115-167


Education - Home education
Travel and change of residence
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Pelagian
Ecclesiastical administration - Participation in councils and ecclesiastical courts
Public law - Ecclesiastical
Economic status and activity - Indication of poverty
Relation with - Another presbyter
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Relation with - Heretic/Schismatic
Writing activity
Education - Theological interest
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER954,