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Document Details :
Title: Augustine on Marriage
Subtitle: A Comparison of De bono coniugali and De nuptiis et concupiscentia
Author(s): LAMBERIGTS, Mathijs
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 35 Issue: 1-2 Date: 2011
In recent literature, it has regularly been suggested that, in his later years, Augustine of Hippo became more and more pessimistic with regard to marriage and sexuality. At the same time, Augustine was praised for his nuanced view on this issue in about 401, when he developed a middle position between the optimistic approach of Jovinian and the rather denigrating view of Jerome with regard to marriage. While Jovinian was of the opinion that (because of baptism) a life in abstinence and marriage were equally meritorious, Jerome developed an outspoken and negative view on marriage in favor of the consecrated life. For his part, Augustine considered a life of abstinence as superior in comparison to marriage but explicitly stated that marriage was a bonum in its own right. In this contribution, it is made clear that the positions of Augustine in De bono coniugali (about 401) and De nuptiis et concupiscentia (418/19) are substantially the same. In other words, qualifications such as being wise or pessimistic do not really do justice to Augustine’s position, which remained the same through the years. In De nuptiis et concupiscentia, in the midst of the Pelagian controversy, Augustine made much more use of Scriptural texts in order to underpin his view on marriage and concupiscence in relation to the doctrine of original sin: in the controversy with Julian of Aeclanum he had to defend himself against accusations such as innovation and heresy. In the two works, the ethical criterion par excellence for the evaluation of human beings moral behavior remained the propter Deum-attitude.