Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Article 303: De adulterinis coniugiis
De adulterinis coniugiis
After De anima et eius origine, Augustine dates two books to Pollentius entitled De adulterinis conjugiis.1 Nothing is known of Pollentius. Apparently a pious man, Augustine calls him his religious brother.2 He had read Augustine’s De sermone Domini in monte written many years previously.3 To his surprise Augustine maintained that women legally separated from their adulterous husbands must remain continent and can not remarry while their husbands are still living. He wrote Augustine for clarification. Pollentius believed that women leaving their husbands for reasons other than adultery were the only ones not permitted to remarry.
Pollentius knew Augustine would respond and so later sent him other questions.4 Augustine had finished his book before receiving these questions and wrote an additional response. Augustine’s friends had already published his first book, much to his dismay. He found himself obliged to write a second. In these two books he examines the question of marriage on scriptural authority.5 He calls the question confused, obscure, and difficult, and does not know if he has treated it clearly and precisely.6 Augustine knows full well he has not clarified the question completely, in this work or in any other. He had written several other replies which he leaves to the readers’ judgment. Augustine does not believe himself capable of solving all difficulties encountered in these questions.
One reason alleged by Pollentius against Augustine’s position is that men separated from their wives do not remain...