« Cassian Cassianus, Johannes Cassianus, Julius »

Cassianus, Johannes

CASSIANUS, cas´´sî-ɑ̄´nUs, JOHANNES: Monk of the fifth century and the real founder of Semi-Pelagianism; b. probably in Provence c. 360; d. at Marseilles c. 435. He received a thorough education, and then visited the East with an 436older friend named Germanus. At Bethlehem he entered a cloister, but the desire to know the famous Egyptian hermits led him and Germanus to Egypt, where they remained seven years, after which they revisited Bethlehem, but soon returned to Egypt. Thence Cassianus went to Constantinople, where he became the pupil of John Chrysostom, who ordained him deacon. The exile of Chrysostom in 403, however, obliged Cassianus and Germanus to take refuge with Innocent I. When Cassianus was ordained priest and returned home is unknown, and the fate of Germanus is equally uncertain. At Marseilles Cassianus founded two cloisters, one for monks and the other for nuns, and seems to have died shortly after completing his polemic against Nestorius.

His earliest work, written before 426, was entitled De institutis cœnobiorum et de octo principalium vitiorum remediis libri duodecim, and was composed at the request of Castor, bishop of Apta Julia, who wished to introduce the Oriental and especially the Egyptian rules into the monastery which he had founded. His second work was his Collationes viginti-quattuor, completed before 429. Both were widely spread throughout the Occident; Benedict of Nursia commanded that they be read to the monks in the refectory; Cassiodorus esteemed them highly, although he warned his monks against the heretical views of the author concerning the freedom of the will; and Gregory of Tours mentions them as used, together with other Oriental rules, in the monastery of St. Yririx. A brief compend was made by the friend of Cassianus, Eucherius, bishop of Lyons, which served as a source for the Concordia regularum of Benedict of Aniane.

The thirteenth collation of Cassianus is important in the controversy on Augustine's doctrine of grace. Against his enemies, who were centered in Marseilles, the latter addressed, shortly before his death, his De prædestinatione sanctorum and De dono perseverantiæ, his chief opponent being Cassianus, who in this collation had enunciated the doctrine called Semi-Pelagianism in the Middle Ages, although it might more properly be termed Semi-Augustinianism, since Cassianus separated himself sharply from Pelagius and branded him as a heretic, while he felt himself in complete harmony with Augustine. His Greek training, however, rendered it impossible for him to accept Augustine's doctrine of unconditional predestination, particular grace, and the absolute denial of the freedom of the will. Casaianus, on the other hand, recognized the necessity of divine grace throughout the process of salvation, while postulating the existence of free will as a necessary condition for the operation of grace, and asserting that God never destroys the freedom of the will, even in such an extraordinary case as the conversion of Paul. He regarded it as a religious axiom, therefore, that salvation through Christ is not restricted to a small number of the elect, but is intended for all. This non-Augustinian concept of the process of salvation conditions Cassianus's view of original sin. He believed that the fall of Adam had brought destruction on the whole human race, although it still retained the power to seek goodness in virtue of its original state of immortality, wisdom, and complete freedom of the will. After the victory of a modified Augustinianism at the Synod of Orange in 529, the doctrines of Cassianus were generally regarded as heterodox, although this did not injure his fame as a monastic author, and in southern Gaul he was officially honored as a saint. See Semi-Pelagianism.

In the latter part of his life Cassianus became involved in the Nestorian controversy, and at the request of the archdeacon Leo (later Pope Leo I.) wrote his De incarnatione Domini contra Nestorium libri septem, the date being subsequent to the letters written by Nestorius to Pope Celestine in 430. The work lacks the importance which it would otherwise possess as the only extensive contribution of an Occidental to the Nestorian controversy, through its restriction to personal attacks on the opponent of its author and a complete omission of positive and independent Christological statements. Cassianus sought to prove that the divinity of Christ had existed from eternity and had never been renounced, so that Mary must be called not merely the mother of Christ, as Nestorius taught, but the mother of God. The work is especially valuable as showing the close sympathy of the interests and methods of Nestorianism and Pelagianism, while Cassianus, following the Gallic monk Leporius, who had renounced Pelagianism in 426, held that Christ possessed in a single person the two coexistent substances of God and man.

(G. Grützmacher.)

Bibliography: The Opera, ed. A. Gazäus, were published at Douai, 1616, reprinted in MPL, xlix., l.; best ed. by M. Petschenig, in CSEL, 2 vols., 1886–88. An Eng. transl., with a well-written Life, is contained in NPNF, 2d series, xi. 183 sqq. Consult: G. F. Wiggers, Pragmatische Darstellung des Augustinismus und Pelagianismus, ii. 7–153, Berlin, 1833; A. Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, iii. 154, Tübingen, 1897, Eng. transl., v. 246 sqq., 253 sqq., Boston, 1899; A. Hoch, Die Lehre des J. Cassians von Natur and Gnade, Freiburg, 1895.

« Cassian Cassianus, Johannes Cassianus, Julius »
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