Christians. In this period, the most prominent figures involved in the debate were Jerome, Augustine, Pelagius and Caelestius; others contributed to the discussion as well - one thinks of Rufinus the Syrian, Ambrose of Chalcedon, John Cassian, Vincent of Lerins, Prosper of Aquitaine and Julian of Eclanum -and it is important not to reduce the complexities of this debate into a bipolar contrast between Augustine and Pelagius, because such a reduction can only be at the expense of the rich variety of perspectives that emerged (and often clashed) for several decades.58 And yet it is possible to see the lineaments of the discussion as a whole within the topical debate between Augustine on the one hand and Pelagius and Caelestius on the other with regard to infant baptism.

The baptism of infants features prominently in Augustine's position on the inherited sin of Adam. He takes the very form of the rite - including the exorcism that precedes the immersion - as meaningful and as straightforwardly true. Thus, he asks, 'How would it be possible then for [the sponsor] to declare that he renounces the devil, who is not at all in [the infant]? How that he is converted to God, from whom he had never been turned away? How that he believes (among other things) in the forgiveness of sins, when none have been attributed to him?'59 We have no evidence that the Pelagians ever rose to the challenge of these hard questions. Their own claims about the effects of baptism upon infants lack the cogency of Augustine's incisive theological interpretation of the sacrament.

In the main, they rejected the idea that sin can be imputed where understanding and will are lacking: for Pelagius, the so-called 'Sicilian Anonymous' and Caelestius, there can be no sin that is not willed.60 Their aetiology of sin accounts for their refusal to ascribe sin to infants, whose lack of an operative will is axiomatic. In this way, Pelagius and like-minded fellows privilege the

58 The polarised schema from which I am dissenting underlies much scholarship on the Rezeptionsgeschichte of Augustine's writings, from his lifetime to the Second Council of Orange (529), andhas traditionally resultedin the use of'Semi-Pelagianism' as a category for historical interpretation. Scholars have increasingly disavowed that category, but in many instances the underlying polarity remains unchallenged. For a thoroughgoing critique of 'Semi-Pelagianism' as an anachronistic misrepresentation of events that is rooted in dubious assumptions about the normativity of Augustinian theology, and an extended analysis of a major figure in this period that challenges the traditional polarisation, see A. M. C. Casiday Tradition and theology in StJohn Cassian.

59 Augustine, On the merit and remission of sins and on infant baptism 1.34.63 (CSEL 60: 64).

60 Pelagius, On nature ap. Augustine, On nature and grace 30.34 (CSEL 60: 258); Sicilian Anonymous, 'Hon tuae' 1 (in C. P. Caspari, ed., Briefe, 6); Caelestius, ap. Augustine, On human perfection in righteousness 2.1 (CSEL 42:4): 'Ante omnia interrogandus est quinegat hominem sine peccato esse posse, qui sit quodcumque peccatum: quod uitari potest an quod uitari non potest. Si quod uitari non potest, peccatum non est; si quod uitari potest, potest homo sine peccato esse, quod uitari potest. Nulla enim ratio uel iustitia patitur saltern dici peccatum, quod uitari nullo modo potest.'

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