Fulgentius of Ruspe on the Saving Will of God: The Development of a Sixth-Century African Bishop’s Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:4 During the Semi-Pelagian Controversy

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This study offers a solution to the problem of conflicting data on the extent of God’s saving will in the writings of an eminent sixth-century North African bishop, Fulgentius of Ruspe. It demonstrates that over time Fulgentius changed his opinion on the issue.


“His study refines the dating of Fulgentius’ works while providing the specific contexts and circumstances for his writings. Finally, Gumerlock has translated some fragments and selections from Fulgentius and others involved in the semi-Pelagian controversy that have not heretofore appeared in English. . . . This work is an exemplary study of an episode in the sixth century involving Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe, and his teaching on the saving will of God. It will be a joy and an enlightenment to anyone who reads it.” – Prof. Kenneth B. Steinhauser, Saint Louis University

“. . . a compelling study that clearly and definitively answers the question of how Fulgentius interpreted the extent of God’s saving will. It will be of great interest to students of Fulgentius himself, the Semi-Pelagian controversy (now more frequently referred to as the controversy over grace or some other title), the activities of African Catholic bishops under the Vandal occupation, ancient biblical exegesis, and Latin theological developments during the sixth century. As a final note, this study has obvious applications of immediate relevance to the debates over divine will, human freedom, and predestination that continue among Christians to this day, although the author prudently refrains from addressing such current questions. Gumerlock’s study is especially refreshing in its openness to theological inquiry and its serious and dispassionate approach to the teachings of Fulgentius of Ruspe on the saving will of God.” – Prof. Daniel G. Van Slyke, Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

“. . . [Gumerlock’s] work provides the current definitive review of the previously obscure life of Fulgentius (468-533), whose impact on the Semi-Pelagian debates of the 6th century is foundational. . . We are in Gumerlock’s debt for a thoroughly researched thesis. . . His bibliography and footnotes include references to English, German, Spanish, Italian and French resources.” – Prof. James T. Dennison, Jr., Northwest Theological Seminary

Table of Contents

Foreword by Kenneth B. Steinhauser
1. Fulgentius and the Problem of the Saving Will of God
2. Fulgentius’ Early View: “God wills all persons to be saved.”
3. Fulgentius’ Reaction to the Semi-Pelagianism of Faustus of Riez: “God is not willing that any of the predestined perish.”
4. Fulgentius’ Reaction to Semi-Pelagianism in Constantinople: “God wills all kinds of persons to be saved.”
5. Fulgentius’ Later View: “God does not will all to be saved.”
6. Implications of Fulgentius’ Changing Views on the Saving Will of God
7. Translations of Primary Sources

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