Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Augustine's Anti-Julian Debate and Original Sin

Author: LEE Kam-Lun Edwin, Professor of Theology, GETS Theological Seminary, USA



The Anti-Julian debate starting from 418 is the last phase of Augustine’s Anti-Pelagian Controversy. Julian of Eclanum accused Augustine’s teaching on original sin in fact falls back to the position of Manichaeism. The following questions are asked: 1) Is Julian’s accusation valid? 2) Is asking the soul’s origin a reasonable question for addressing original sin? 3) Can Augustine produce his own view on the origin of the soul? 4) How successful is Augustine in defending himself? Julian presupposes creationism regarding the soul’s origin, believing that God creates the soul for each newborn. However, since a baby cannot be self-determining in the matter of sinning, the idea of original sin would then implicate the Creator as the source of evil. Such result is no different from the Manichaean position, stating that evil is an independent cosmic principle and humans are born into this reality of struggle. Augustine countered that original sin is not a transfer of substance, and more like message transmission. With respect to the soul’s origin, he leans toward the explanation afforded by traducianism, but doubts its overly materialistic view of the soul. Augustine till the very end was unable, from within his own theoretical framework, to provide a satisfactory answer to Julian’s challenge concerning the origin of the soul and the related issue of the acquisition of guilt.



Augustine of Hippo, Julian of Eclanum, Anti-Pelagian Controversy, Original Sin, Origin of the Soul, Manichaeism


Full Text (International Version):

LEE Kam-Lun EdwinSCN JSCC.pdf


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LEE Kam-Lun EdwinSCN JSCC.pdf