JOVINIAN: A "heretic" who became conspicuous in Rome after 385 as a polemical writer against undue valuation of the celibate and ascetic life. Prior to this time he had lived in celibacy as a strict ascetic, but coincidently with his appearance in public he modified his ascetic living, allowing himself indulgence in flesh food, wearing better clothing, visiting the baths, and by no means shunning association with youths and women. Nevertheless he stayed single, deeming this estate the one divinely enjoined for him. He lived quite after the manner of the pre-monastic, Western ascetics, and may be considered an advocate of the ancient ascetic régime, which waged a desperate battle in Rome against the new and intensified forms of Oriental monasticism. In this process he came to certain fundamental conclusions that stood opposed to theories which had long been shared by the Church. As a consequence of his agitation against monasticism, many men and women gave up the celibate life. That frivolous natures also attached themselves to Jovinian, considering him an advocate of relaxed Christian morality, may easily be believed on the testimony of Jerome. The Roman Bishop Siricius, in deference to denunciation by the monastic circle at Rome, excommunicated Jovinian and his followers in 390, and forwarded the decision to foreign bishops, in particular to Ambrose of Milan. Jovinian having betaken himself with his most loyal adherents to Milan, Ambrose made haste to excommunicate him in 391; and Jerome, about 392, by instigation of his Roman friends, wrote two books against him. Since these, however, were considered somewhat too polemical, Jerome sought to soften their tone without really yielding (Epist., xlviii.-Ii). The strife revived again at Milan, and Ambrose wrote a warning against Jovinian's heretical doctrines (Epist., lxxxiii.). Augustine wrote the tract De bono conjugali against the Jovinian heresy, but without expressly naming Jovinian. He was dead in 406 (Jerome, Adv. Vigilantium, i.).
Jovinfan's doctrinal views are known only through the writings of his opponents, who have transmitted some of his theses verbatim, but as regards the inner connection of thought, we are limited to hypothetical constructions. He wrote a work which Jerome calls commentarioli, seeking to adduce Scriptural evidences for his theses, but by no means excluding support from profane literature. His doctrines all converge upon opposition to monasticism. In the letters of Siricius two erroneous teachings of Jovinian are named. According to the first, virgins, widows, and married people, baptized in Christ, have equal merit, save in so far as otherwise they differ in respect to their works; and, secondly, fasting is nowise better, more meritorious and pleasing to God than the enjoyment of food, observed with thanksgiving. In the synodal decision of Ambrose at Milan, two other erroneous teachings are attributed to Jovinian; viz., that he denied the inviolate virginity of Mary, and a difference in the celestial reward of the righteous. In combating the growing dogma of the unimpaired virginity of Mary, wherein the monks were especially interested for the glorification of celibacy, Jovinian desired to deal a stinging blow on the followers of monasticism. He adhered to the virgin birth of Jeans, but affirmed that by bringing to birth, Mary ceased to be virgin. As a deduction from the parity of marriage and virginity, Jovinian appears to have advanced another proposition transmitted by Jerome; viz., that all the regenerate who have preserved their baptismal grace receive the same recompense in the kingdom of heaven, irrespectively of their having lived in the married estate or as virgins. In the light of these thoughts, the last and most difficult proposition of Jovinian becomes intelligible. He affirmed the essential sinlessness of the regenerate. How he expanded this proposition in detail is not known. On the strength of this tenet, Jerome related him theologically to Pelagius; Julian of Eclanum classed him with Augustine; and Augustine, in turn, associated him with Pelagianism.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sources are: Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum, and Epist., xlviii.-l., Eng. transl. in NPNF, 2d ser., vi. 66-82, 334-345; Augustine, Haer., chap. lxxxii.; Siricius. Epist. ii. ad diversos episcopos, in Mansi, Concilia, iii. 663 sqq.; Ambrose, Epist., viii., lxxxiii., in Mansi, Concilia, i. 669 sqq., v. 554 sqq. Consult: G. B. Lindner, De Joviniano et Vigilantio, Leipsic, 1839; J. H. Blunt, Dictionary of Sects and Heresies, pp. 242-244, Philadelphia, 1874; W. Haller, Jovinianus, Leipsic, 1897; G. Grützmacher, Hieronymus, ii. 145-172, Berlin, 1906: DCB, iii. 465-466.
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