For other writings of the Elipandus corpus, see:
The following extended letter by Bishop Elipandus of Toledo is addressed to Alcuin of York, an English-born Catholic deacon who became a prominent scholar in the court of Charlemagne. Alcuin (addressed in this letter as 'Albinus') was, like Saint Beatus of Liébana, a critic of Elipandus' teachings of Adoptionism regarding the Father-Son relationship in the Trinity. Much of the writing here essentially regurgitates Elipandus' prior arguments for his views of Adoptionism, claiming that the doctrine is supported by both scripture and the teachings of the Church Fathers. Alongside these arguments are various insults directed at Alcuin, who is likened to the heretic Arius and will supposedly have a corrupting influence on Charlemagne similar to the corruption Arius brought about on Constantine (a similar analogy was used in Elipandus' letter to Charlemagne). Elipandus also condemns Alcuin for his stance against Felix of Urgell, who supported Elipandus' Adoptionism and is portrayed as a victim of persecution.
The Latin text used for this translation is taken from Juan Gil's Corpus Scriptorum Muzarabicorum, which I also utilised for references to the Bible and writings of Church Fathers and liturgies. However, occasionally the text appears to have required correction. In addition, not all the Biblical references were noted by Gil.
I would like to dedicate this translation and commentary to my friend Dave McAvoy, who in his bachelor days was always kind enough to host me at his house when I was travelling in the London area. Dave, I have fond memories of eating out with you and playing Call of Duty at your house in those days. I hope this translation and commentary can be a sufficient token of appreciation.
Letter of Elipantus[i] to Albinus
To the most reverent brother Albinus the deacon, not the minister of Christ, but the disciple of the most fetid anti-phrasian[ii] Beatus, the new Arrius[iii] who has arisen in the time of the glorious emperor in the borders of Austria,[iv] contrarian to the doctrines of the holy venerable fathers Ambrosius,[v] Isidorus[vi] and Hieronimus[vii]: if he converts from the error of his way, he will receive eternal salvation from the Lord, and if he does not want to do so, he will receive eternal damnation.
We received your letter for review as July was going out, removed as it is from the path of the correct faith, horrific with the lustre of sulphur, and written with superstitious discourse. We have seen, I say, we have seen that that spirit, which descended over the heads of the disciples after the ascension of the Lord so that they should speak of the great works of God, was not the one which spoke through you, but rather the one who said: 'I will be the lying spirit in the mouth of his prophets.'[viii] Nonetheless the Son of God, who takes away the drips of rain and pours out showers like whirlpools, who of course calls the brave to the reward and strengthens the weak like them for the struggles, who remunerates the former by undertaking them and provides the strength of labours to the former so that they can subsist: may he grant in my mouth the word of truth that also sounds well, so that the response of my fasting may appease the hearing of the Catholic Church that has been constituted in the name of Christ.
But as you assert that there was no taking up of the adoption of the flesh in the Son of God according to the form of the servant from the glorious virgin of God, you do not pursue true things, but you are shown to be full of lying just like your teacher the anti-phrasian Beatus, the disciple of the Antichrist, fetid as he is with the impurity of the flesh and far removed from the altar of God, a pseudo-Christ and a pseudo-prophet. For about him the outstanding doctor the blessed Gregorius says: 'The one whose discourse is destroyed by his work, has lost the authority to teach.'[ix] You indeed, oh most dear brother, beware lest (may it be absent) what has been written should be about you: 'From the root of the serpent the snake has come out and from the aperture of the viper has come out the basilisk,'[x] that is, Albinus, most foul in blackness. Beware lest you should not be a participant with the priest Stephanus, who says that he sees the opened heavens and Jesus standing at the right hand of God the Father,[xi] but rather with Nicolaus, whose deeds the same Son of God attests that he hates.[xii] And beware lest you should not be similar to the priest Vincentius,[xiii] but similar to Datianus,[xiv] who consecrated the same priest for martyrdom. And again beware lest you should be similar to Rufinus, who as the follower of idolatry made a martyr of the blessed Felix through his wild-animal acts,[xv] just as you also persecute another Felix the confessor,[xvi] whom we know to be of the utmost kindness from his days of youth, chaste and ornate in customs, but you persecute him as he hides in the mountains, caves, and caverns of the land. Beware lest you should be the one about whom the prophet says: 'Fatuous, he speaks fatuous things and his heart will understand empty things.'[xvii] And again: 'They have taught their tongue to speak falsehood: they have laboured to act unjustly.'[xviii] And the apostle: 'The animal man does not perceive those things which are the spirit of God.'[xix] Also the psalmist says: 'Destroy the enemy and defender.'[xx] You are known to be the enemy and defender, as while you are shown to assert the deity of the Son of God who was begotten before the ages from the Father, you are seen to deny his humanity that was undertaken from the womb of the virgin in the end of time, and you have forgotten the pronouncement of the Lord, by which he says to the hesitating disciples: 'Oh fools and slow in hear to believe in all things that have been written in the law and prophetic books. Surely thus it behoved Christ to suffer and thus enter into his glory?'[xxi] And the apostle: 'Oh fools of Galatia, who has bewitched you not to obey the truth?'[xxii]
As for what you say in your writing that I am alone with a few in that belief, which all of Hispania retains, remember that the Lord said: 'Wide and spacious is the road that leads to death, and many are those who enter through it. How narrow and restricted is the way that leads to life, and few are those who find it.'[xxiii] Remember that the Lord said that Lazarus the poor man, full of ulcers, was lying at the door of the rich, desiring to be satiated from the morsels that were falling from the table of the rich, and no one gave to him, but the dogs came and licked his ulcers. But it also happened that both men died on one day: Lazarus was carried by the angels into the bosom of Abraham, but the rich man was buried in hell, seeking a drop from the finger of Eleazar even as he had not given a morsel.[xxiv] Beware lest you be among those people as you are known to have 20,000 servants and are so inflated by your riches, 'your wisdom, which is not descending from above, but it is earthly, animal-like, diabolic.'[xxv] Remember that the Lord said: 'Where there have been two or three gathered in my name, I also am in the midst of them,'[xxvi] as is the case with Felix the confessor and his companions. Remember what the scripture says: 'Surely God has chosen the poor in the world, as the rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?'[xxvii] Remember what the psalmist says: 'The rich have been hungry and thirsty: but those seeking the Lord will not lack every good'[xxviii]; and again: 'If riches flow, do not apply the heart to them'[xxix]; and again: 'He stores treasure and does not know for whom he gathers those things.'[xxx]
But also I have thought that there should be added to this work that which God the Father spoke to His servant David saying: 'When you sleep with your forefathers, I will raise from your loins the one who will sit over the throne of Israel. I will be for him as the Father and he will be for Me as the Son.'[xxxi] And also: 'From the fruit of your stomach I will place him over My seat.'[xxxii] And again: 'The root of Jesse that stands as a sign for the peoples; the peoples will implore him and his tomb will be glorious.'[xxxiii] Behold the Son of God per the form of the servant, which he assumed from the virgin, in which he is lesser than the Father, and is not in descent, but in adoption he is the adopted First-Begotten of God among many brothers as per the apostle: why should he not be called adopted, who is whole among our people, just as he is whole also among his own kin beyond sin? Behold Ioachim,[xxxiv] whose daughter is known to be Mary the glorious virgin of God and she is believed to be adopted. Why should the Lord Jesus Christ who was begotten from the same woman not be called adopted? Remember that the Lord said to his disciples: 'He who hears you, hears me, and he who rejects me, rejects me.'[xxxv] So concerning these holy teachers, whose names we brought forth as testimonies, the prophet says: 'Affirm the testimony, and seal the law in my disciples.'[xxxvi]
With these things said in preface, if you do not receive the testimony of so many venerable holy forefathers, give to me the testimony of the blessed Athanasius,[xxxvii] Hilarius,[xxxviii] Ambrosius, Agustinus,[xxxix] Isidorus that there was no adoption of flesh or true humanity in the Son of God, and I will agree with your errors. For as your fetid and horrible master has stained Libana,[xl] so you have stained Austria the kingdom of kingdoms. But cease to open your lips in vain as they bark against the mystery of God. Beware lest you be (may it be absent) that Beemoth, to whom the mountains bring grass to eat and with whom you sleep in the midst of the reed,[xli] in the humid places. Beware lest you be another Arrius: for as the Emperor Constantinus became a Christian through the blessed Silvestrus, he became a heretic through Arrius and a woman.[xlii] About him[xliii] the blessed Isidorus says: 'Alas, with a good beginning, and a bad end.'[xliv] This man's depravity stained with his poison not only the realm of the Goths, but also Libia and the East and West all the way to the time of the blessed memory of King Recaredus.[xlv] Beware lest you be another Nabuzardan the chief of the cooks, he who destroyed the walls of Hierusalem.[xlvi] Beware lest you do the same thing to the glorious Emperor Karolus[xlvii] just as Arrius did to Constantinus, and he should mourn himself forever. There were also many other things to be written to you, but afflicted by the oppression of the people we cannot write back all things to you. You nonetheless, if you do not wish to hear Moyses, you will hear Pharaoh. Nonetheless Moyses himself says: 'The Lord will raise a prophet from your brothers. You will hear him just like me.'[xlviii] Behold Moyses, the adopted son of God, says he is similar to him in flesh, not in descent, but in adoption. And do you deny that the Son of God took up flesh from the offspring of Abraham, Jesse and that the glorious virgin of God did so from Ioachim, even as she is the adopted daughter begotten from the adopted son, so that he should be the adopted Son? For thus I heard the wicked presbyter saying to my ears concerning the doctrine of the wicked Beatus: 'Jesus Christ, assuming flesh in the mother's insides, did not draw it from the mother's insides, but made new flesh for himself.'
There begin the testimonies of the holy venerable fathers concerning adoption in the Son of God according to the humanity and not according to the divinity. These are the people about whom the Lord Jesus Christ has spoken saying: 'You are the light of the world and you are the salt of the Earth: whatever you bind over the land, those things will be bound, and whatever you untie, they will be untied.'[xlix] The blessed Ambrosius says in his teachings: 'In our use the adopted son and the true son.'[l] The blessed Hieronimus also says: 'This son of man merits through the Son of God to be in the Son of God, and adoption is not separated from nature, but nature is bound with adoption.'[li] Also in the exposition of Apocalipsis: 'A white gem is adoption in the Son of God.'[lii] Also the blessed Agustinus says regarding the divinity: 'The Son of God was begotten from the Father before time not in adoption, but in descent, and not in grace, but in nature.'[liii] But regarding the humanity he says: 'An adopted man, whose glory was sought by the one who was the only one begotten from Him.'[liv] Also the blessed Pope Leo says in his teachings: 'Whole among his own kin, whole among our people, he both shone through miracles according to the divinity and subjected himself to the injustices of the flesh according to the humanity.'[lv] So if he is whole among his own kin, he is undoubtedly whole among our people as well, beyond the sin that he did not commit. The Lord and Redeemer himself says according to the divinity: 'I and the Father are One'[lvi]; according to the humanity he says: 'The Father is greater than I.'[lvii] Also the blessed Isidorus, the ray of light of the church, the star of Hesperia,[lviii] the teacher of Hispania, says in the book of Etymologies: 'But he is called the Only-Begotten per the excellence of divinity, so he is without brothers. But First-Begotten according to the undertaking of man, in which through the adoption of grace he deigned to have brothers, for whom he should be the First-Begotten.'[lix] And after some words he says: 'After the fullness of time came, he accepted the form of the servant for our salvation and he became the Son of Man. Hence certain things follow about him in the scriptures regarding the form of God, and certain things regarding the form of the servant, of which for the sake of example two certain things are mentioned, in order that each may be referred to its own. According to the form of God he said about himself: 'I and the Father are One.' According to the form of the servant: 'The Father is greater than I.' But men understanding less what is said for what, want to transfer to the form of God those things that have been said according to the form of the servant, and also those things that have been said so that the persons should be related to each other, they want to be the names of nature and substance, and they make an error in faith. But thus has the human nature been joined to the Son of God, so that from the two substances there should arise the one person. Therefore man alone bore the cross, but on account of the unity of the person God is also said to have borne it. From there is that which is written: 'For if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.'[lx] Therefore we say the Son of God was crucified, not from the virtue of divinity, but from the infirmity of humanity, not from the endurance of his nature, but from our undertaking.'[lxi] For also the prophet says: 'Have mercy, oh Lord, on Your people, over whom Your name has been invoked, and Israel, whom You have equated with Your First-Begotten.'[lxii] This equality is not in the divinity, but in the humanity alone and in the adoption of the flesh, which he received from the virgin. The one and same God and Man in two natures and one person bore the end of death with divinity intact. He says according to his deity: 'I have the power to put aside the soul and I have the power to take it up again.'[lxiii] He says according to his humanity: 'Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.'[lxiv] God- the Son of God- says according to his humanity: 'God, my God, why have You forsaken me?'[lxv] And: 'Let that chalice pass over from me, not as I wish, but as You wish.'[lxvi] Concerning the Son of God the voice of the Father fell from heaven upon the disciples, saying: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him.'[lxvii] Concerning him also the voice of the Father says: 'Behold, My servant will understand,'[lxviii] etc. And also: 'Behold My servant, I will undertake him; My elect, in him My soul has been well pleased. I have given My spirit over him'[lxix]- that is, the seven-fold one full of grace, about whom the prophet says: 'The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety. And the spirit of the fear of the Lord will fill him.'[lxx] Behold God the Father is well pleased in the Son, is well pleased in the servant; and He will be able to be displeased in the adopted one? About the Son of God the psalmist says: 'He ascended on high, and led the captivity as captive.'[lxxi] Behold he is said to be captive; and why is he not to be called adopted in flesh? To the Son of God the voice of the Father says: 'Ask from Me and I will give to you the peoples as your inheritance, and the ends of the Earth as your possession. You will rule them in an iron rod, and as potter's vessel you will break them.'[lxxii] And concerning him the voice of the Father says: 'Behold I will walk before you and I will make the mountains flat and I will break the iron bolts and I will give you hidden treasures, so that you may know that I am the Lord your God.'[lxxiii] Behold to whom does the Father say: 'I am your God'? Not to the one that is the Word, who was begotten from the Father before time, but He says it to the one who in the end of time became man from the Virgin Mary, about whom the apostle says: 'Made from a woman, made under the law, so that he might redeem those who were under the law.'[lxxiv] God- the Son of God- says according to the divinity, in which he and the Father are one: 'I will not give My glory to another.'[lxxv] To ask and to give are not the same thing: to give is the mark of a master, to ask is the mark of the servant, about whom the blessed Isidorus says: 'In the form of the servant is the servant, in the form of the Lord is the Lord of the servant.'[lxxvi] For also the apostle says: 'Although he was in the form of God, not in misappropriation did he think himself to be equal to God, but he emptied himself out in accepting the form of the servant. He lowered himself all the way to death, that is the death of the cross.'[lxxvii] About him in the Gospel it is said: 'Oh Son of David, have mercy on me,'[lxxviii] and also: 'The Lord God will give you the seat of David your father.'[lxxix] Behold if according to the humanity he is the son of David, without doubt concerning the adopted one and servant of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, he is believed to be both adopted according to the humanity and to be the servant. We say adopted in the sole form of human servitude, not in the glory and substance of the divine nature. 'Nearest to God is he who knows how to be silent towards reason.'[lxxx] But you, oh brother Albinus, beware lest you be similar to those priests, whom He mentions in the Old Testament saying: 'Those who offering an alien fire to the divine vengeance were struck and perished,'[lxxxi] so also you send in a diabolical doctrine, which has arisen from that pig the anti-phrasian Beatus. Your discourses seem outwardly to be honey-flowing and internally more bitter than absinthe and poison. You justify your works and condemn in credulity. Your mutilated oil will not fatten our head.
Also there are the testimonies of the holy venerable forefathers who served Toletum[lxxxii] as brought out in the oracles of the masses. Thus they say in the mass concerning the supper of the Lord: 'He who through the passion of the adopted man, while he does not indulge his own body, finally ours'- that is, also, 'he did not spare.'[lxxxiii] Also in the mass concerning the third day of Easter: 'Have regard, oh Lord, for the multitude of Your faithful, whom through the grace of adoption You deigned to make co-heirs with Your Son.'[lxxxiv] Also in the mass concerning the fifth day of Easter: 'Indeed the gift preceded in adoption, but still there remains the judgement in conversation.'[lxxxv] Also there: 'It is worthy and just, indeed for us to greet and coming together to give thanks, give praises, understand the gifts, offer vows to You, oh Omnipotent Father, and to Your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who has displayed from triumph to Your piety, through the passion of the adopted man, apparent booty in the acquisition of the people present, although he has not come out from heaven.'[lxxxvi] Also in the mass concerning the ascension of the Lord: 'Today our Saviour through the adoption of the flesh seeks again the seat of the deity, today he has brought his human form to the Father, which he had offered to the passion, exalting this form in the heavens whereas he had lowered it in the depths below, intending to see glory in these things as he had seen his burial.'[lxxxvii] Also in the mass of Saint Speratus: 'Oh Only-Begotten of the Father who was not begotten, Son of God co-eternal and co-substantial with the Holy Spirit, you who sought the lower depths of this world from the citadel of the heavenly seat and did not shudder to take on the vestment of the flesh of the adopted man and did not deem it unworthy for the sake of the liberation of the faithful to hang on the balance of the cross in the form of the servant with divinity intact and endured to bear the outcome of death.'[lxxxviii] Also on the mass of the dead: 'Oh Lord Jesus Christ, you who are the true life of the believers, we offer this sacrifice to you for the faithful who have died, beseeching that they should be purged through the fountain of regeneration and removed from the temptations of this world and you should deign to insert them into the number of the blessed and those whom you have made participants in the adoption, you should order to be those who share in your inheritance.'[lxxxix] Also we ourselves sing in the Vigil of Easter with the blessed Ysidorus saying: 'He put on the flesh, but did not take off majesty, and he sought our substance, but did not abandon his own.'[xc]
The letter of Leo to Leo Augustus, that in the one person of the Lord Jesus Christ the dual nature of deity and humanity is to be asserted[xci]: 'Whoever there are those who have thus been blinded and alienated from the light of truth, that they deny to the Word of God the truth of the human flesh from the time of incarnation, let them show why they assume the Christian name for themselves and by what account they concord with the truth of the Gospel, if through the birth from the blessed virgin either the flesh arose without deity or the deity arose without flesh. For just as it cannot be denied, per the words of the evangelist, that 'the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,'[xcii] so it cannot be denied, per the preaching of the blessed apostle Paul, that 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.'[xciii] But what reconciliation could be by which God should be made propitious to the human race, unless for the sake of all the Mediator of God and men took it up? But by what account could he fulfil the truth of the Mediator, unless he who is in the form of God equal to the Father should be participating in the form of the servant and us, so that the bond of death that was brought about by the error of one should be released by the death of one, who alone owed nothing to death? For the pouring out of the blood of Christ for the unjust was so rich in price, that, if the entirety of the captives believed in their Redeemer, no bonds of the devil would remain, because, as the apostle says, 'where sin has abounded, grace has abounded even more.'[xciv] And since they have been born under the prejudice of sin and have received the power to be reborn for justice, the gift of liberty has become stronger than the debt of servitude.
And so what hope do they leave for themselves in the fortification of this sacrament if they deny in our Saviour the truth of the human body? Let them say by what sacrifice they have been reconciled, let them say by what blood they have been redeemed. 'Who is,' says the apostle, 'the one who handed himself over for us as an offering and sacrificial victim to God in the odour of sweetness?'[xcv] Or what sacrifice was ever more consecrated, than what which the true and eternal pontifex placed at the altar of the cross through the immolation of his own flesh? For although the death of many saints has been precious in the sight of the Lord,[xcvi] nonetheless the killing of no innocent person has been the redemption of the world. The just have received, but have not given crowns, and from the fortitude of the faithful examples of patience have been born, but not the gifts of justice. Indeed there were individual deaths in individuals, and no one else provided the debt of another by his end, since among others of men the sole one was our Lord Jesus Christ, who was truly the unstained lamb: in him all were crucified, all died, all were buried, and all were also raised up; about them he himself said: 'When I am raised up from the Earth, I will draw all things unto myself.'[xcvii] Also the true faith justifies the impious and creates the just, having been drawn to sharing in their humanity, and acquires salvation in that one, in whom alone man found himself innocent, having the freedom through the grace of God to glory in the power of the one who entered into a fight against the enemy of the human race in the humility of our flesh and granted his victory to these people in whose body he triumphed. Therefore although in the one Lord Jesus Christ the true Son of God and man there is one person of Word and flesh, which should inseparably and indivisibly have common actions, nonetheless the qualities of their works are to be understood and it is to be discerned with the contemplation of sincere faith both for what purposes the humility of the flesh is brought forth and foe what purposes the height of the deity is inclined; what is that which the flesh does not do without the Word and what is that which the Word does not accomplish without the flesh. For without the power of the Word the virgin could not conceive and give birth, and without the truth of the flesh the infancy could not lie wrapped in cloths; without the power of the Word the mages could not adore the boy declared by the sign of the star, and without the truth of the flesh the boy could not be ordered to be brought across into Egypt and be hidden from the persecution of Herod. Without the power of the Word the voice of the Father that was sent from Heaven could not say: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear him.'[xcviii] And without the truth of the flesh Iohannes would not protest: 'Behold the Lamb of God, behold the one who takes away the sin of the world.'[xcix] Without the power of the Word there would not be the renewal of strength for the weak and the revival of the dead, and without the truth of the flesh, food would not be necessary for him fasting, nor would sleep be necessary for him in his fatigue. Finally without the power of the Word the Lord would not profess himself as equal to the Father,[c] and without the truth of the flesh the same one would not say the Father is greater than he,[ci] whereas the Catholic faith adopts both and defends both, as according to the confession of the blessed Peter the apostle it believes that both the man and Word are the one Christ the Son of the living God.
And so although from that beginning, where in the womb of the virgin the Word became flesh, there was never anything of division between both forms and through all bodily increments of one person were the actions of the whole time, nonetheless we do not confound with any mixture those things that were made inseparably, but rather we perceive from the quality of these things who is of which form. Therefore let those hypocrites who do not want to receive the light of truth in their blind minds say in what form Christ the Lord of majesty was affixed to the wood of the cross, and in what form after his resurrection did he rebuke certain disciples who did not believe and refuted the hesitation of the doubters, as he said: 'Feel and see that the spirit does not have flesh and bones, just as you see that I have'[cii]; and to the apostle Thomas: 'Bring your hand onto my side and see my hands and feet, and do not be incredulous, but faithful.'[ciii] And with what manifestation of his body did he already destroy the lies of the heretics, so that the whole church of Christ to be imbued with the doctrines should not hesitate to believe this very thing which the apostles had undertaken to preach. But if in such great light of truth the heretical obstinacy does not abandon its darkness, let them show from where they promise for themselves the hope of eternal life, which one cannot attain except through the man Jesus Christ the Mediator of God and men, just as the blessed Peter the apostle says: 'There is no other name given to men under the sky, in which we ought to be saved,'[civ] and there is no redemption from the human captivity except in the blood of the one who 'gave himself as the redemption for men,'[cv] and, as the blessed apostle Paul preaches, 'although he was in the form of God, he did not think himself in misappropriation to be equal to God, but he emptied himself out in accepting the form of the servant; having become in the likeness of men and having been found in habit as a man, he lowered himself, having been made obedient, all the way to death, that is the death of the cross. On account of this God exalted him and gave to him the name that is above every name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee of the heavenly, earthly and lower beings should bend, and every tongue should profess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.'[cvi] Since there the Lord Jesus Christ is one and truly there is absolutely one and the same person of the true deity and the true humanity in him, nonetheless the exaltation by which, as the teacher of the peoples says, God exalted him and gave him the name that excels over every name: we understand it to pertain to that form, which had to be enriched with the augment of such great glorification. Indeed in the form of God the Son was equal to the Father and between the Begetter and the Only-Begotten there was no difference in essence, no difference in majesty, and through the mystery of the incarnation, nothing had made way for the Word which should be restored by the gift of God the Father. But the form of the servant, through which the deity incapable of passion fulfilled the sacrament of great piety, is the human humility, which was carried out in the glory of the divine power into such great unity brought together in deity and humanity from the virgin's conception, that the divine things were not done without the man and the human things were not done without God. Therefore just as the Lord of majesty is called the crucified, so, as he is equal to God from eternity, he is called the exalted, because, as the unity of the person endures inseparably, there is one and the same and whole Son of Man because of the flesh along with the whole Son of God on account of the one deity with the Father. So whatever Jesus received in that time, he received according to the man to whom those things which he did not have should be brought. But according to the power of the deity, all things which the Father has, the Son also has, and those things which he received from the Father in the form of the servant, he also gave the same things in the form of God.
But according to the form of God he himself and the Father are One,[cvii] but according to the form of the servant he did not came to make his will, but the will of Him who sent him.[cviii] According to the form of God, as the Father, he has life in himself[cix]; according to the form of the servant his soul is sad all the way to death,[cx] and the same person is, as the apostle preaches, both rich and poor[cxi]: rich, because, as the evangelist says, 'in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and God was the Word. This was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing arose.'[cxii] But he is poor because on account of us 'the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.'[cxiii] But what is his emptying out and what is his poverty except the acceptance of the servile form, through which with the majesty of the Word veiled the dispensation of human redemption was fulfilled? For as the original bonds of our captivity could not be undone, if there were no man of our race and nature, whom the prejudices of sin did not hold and who through his unstained blood could wash away the death-bearing chirograph, as had been ordained by divine intervention from the beginning, so it arose in the fulness of the pre-determined time, that the promise indicated in many ways should come into the effect that had long been awaited, and that which had always been declared by continual testimonies could not be doubted. But in great sacrilege does the impiety of the heretics manifest to involve itself, since under the appearance of honouring the deity they deny the truth of the human flesh in Christ and think religious that it should be believed if it were to be said regarding our Saviour that it is not true that he saves, since as according to the promise running through all ages the world was reconciled in Christ, so, unless the Word deigned to become flesh, no flesh could be saved. For every sacrament of the Christian faith, as the heretics will it, is tainted by great darkness, if the light of truth is reckoned to have hidden under the lie of the phantasma. Therefore let no Christian think he should be embarrassed concerning the truth of our body in Christ, because all the apostles and disciples of the apostles and all the outstanding teachers of the churches, who merited to reach the crown of martyrdom and the glory of confession, shone in the light of this faith, intonating with opinions in harmony everywhere that in the Lord Jesus Christ one person of deity and flesh is to be professed. But by what likeness of reason, by what portion of divine volumes does the heretical impiety think that it is helped, as it denies the truth of the body of Christ, even though the law continually testifies to this truth, prophecies continually proclaim it beforehand, the Gospels continually teach it, and Christ continually shows it? Let them search through every series of the scriptures where they can escape their darkness, not where they can obscure the true light, and as they will find through all ages the shining truth, so let them see this great and wondrous sacrament believed from the beginning as it is fulfilled in the end. As no part of the holy literature is silent concerning this, it suffices that certain harmonious signs of the truth have lay open, by which the diligence of the faith may be directed into the most splendid broadness and may look with foresight through the sincere light of intelligence that there should be no source of embarrassment for the Christians, but rather a source of constant glorification, in the Son of God, who incessantly professes himself to be the Son of Man and man. But so that your piety may know that we concord with the preachings of the venerable forefathers, I have decided that some of their pronouncements should be appended to this discourse; if after reviewing them you deign to do so, you will find that we preach nothing other than what the our holy forefathers taught in the whole world, and you will find that no one differs from them except the impious heretics alone.'
But also I have thought that should be inserted to this work: as the scripture should say: 'The heavens will unveil his iniquity and the Earth rises against him.'[cxiv] What are those clouds except those which are to come with the Lord for judgement? Of them are Ambrosius, Agustinus, Hieronimus and the rest whom you, oh Albinus, refute and deem heretics, about whom the psalmist says: 'The heavens narrate the glory of God.'[cxv] So the blessed Agustinus in his letter directed to Evodius,[cxvi] where he discussed about the Trinity and the dove and the adoption of the Son of God, after many words produced earlier thus says: 'As the Father in the voice by which He resounded: 'You are My Son' and the adopted Son in man, which he undertook from the virgin and the Holy Spirit in the corporal form of the dove.' So after some words: 'And so both the Son of God is along with man called adopted, and the Son of Man is called adopted along with the Word.' And after some words: 'Hence the Son of God is unchangeable and co-eternal with the Father, but in the Word alone. And the Son of God underwent the passion, but in the adopted man alone. And the Son of God was buried, but in the adopted flesh alone. Therefore those words which are said about the Son of God, one must see them as being said according to what. For the number of persons was not increased after the assumption of man and adoption, but the same Trinity remained. For just as in any man, apart from that one who was undertaken singularly, the soul and the body constitute one person, so also in Christ the Word and the adopted man are one person.' So after some words: 'So Christ is called the Son of God, the Lord of glory and anything else of this sort according to the Word, and nonetheless rightly is the Lord of glory called the crucified one, as it is said that he endured this according to the adopted flesh, not according to that which is the Lord of glory.' And after some words: 'The Holy Spirit is said to have descended like a dove in corporeal form and to have remained over him. For thus also is the rock called Christ, because it signified Christ the adopted one.' So after some words: 'These things for you concerning your two inquiries, that is, concerning the Trinity and the dove, in which the Holy Spirit was shown not in its own nature, but in a signifier appearance, so also the Son of God not in his nativity, about which the Father says: 'I begat you from the womb before Lucifer,' but rather as he was born in the adopted man from the virgin's womb he was crucified by the Jews.'
With these things often said, when I had reviewed your sacrilegious letter again and again, corrupted as it is by fatal poison and dark as it is with the darkness of ignorance, I found in the same place that we supposedly denied that God the Son of God who was born from the Virgin was essentially God in any way, about which matter the scripture says: 'I and the Father are One.'[cxvii] You ought to remember what the scripture says: 'The false witness will not be unpunished.'[cxviii] And these words: 'Cursed is the one who fabricates evil in his heart and fictitiously speaks peaceful things from his lips, but God who sees all things will render unto him according to his works.'[cxix] I indeed have not denied that God the Son of God is God, begotten as he was from the Father before time, through Whom the visible and invisible things, the spiritual and corporeal things were made: I believe him to be so not in adoption, but in descent and not in grace, but in nature. But I hold this according to the pronouncement of the blessed Ysidorus, who says that there are several who hold depraved opinions about the Son of God and transfer to the humanity that which has been said about him according to the humanity,[cxx] and change to the humanity that which is about the divinity. Nonetheless our Iulianus says: 'The lordly man and humanised God.'[cxxi]
Indeed there were still many things to be inserted into this work, but the divine discourse prohibits us saying: 'I will make your tongue cling to your palate and you will be mute and not as a scolding man, because the home is exasperating.'[cxxii] Therefore woe to you, Austria, another Alexandria,[cxxiii] you who have begotten a new Arrius- that is, Albinus- in the time of the glorious emperor in order to destroy and darken the Catholic faith. Finally hear the blessed Cybrianus thus saying to a certain heretic who was writing: 'You have my letters and I have yours, both of them will be recited in the sight of the Lord.'[cxxiv] Remember also that the evangelist said: 'Many of his disciples erred backwards.'[cxxv] And where they erred, let the blessed Gregorius respond to you saying: 'Behind Satan.' And again when a certain man was saying to the Lord: 'Master, I will follow you whithersoever you go.' He responded: 'Foxes have dens and vultures have nests. But the Son of Man does not have in you a place where he can recline his head.'[cxxvi] So it is the case with you. If these small things do not suffice for you, nor will many things be of use. 'Nearest to God is he who knows how to be silent towards reason.'[cxxvii] As we have sometimes written to you with harsh discourse, by the Lord's command through Moyses we did this, as He says: 'You will not cook the kid in its mother's milk.'[cxxviii]
It is again to be suggested to the glorious emperor that his indignation towards his servant Felix should grow mild, and the Lord will thus not seek his blood from that man's hand; for let him know for certain that, if he rejects that man's preaching and affirms that of Albinus, he will have a part with the emperor Constantinus- may God not permit these things- whom the blessed Ysidorus laments, saying: 'Alas, with a good beginning, and a bad end.'[cxxix]
[i] i.e. Elipandus.
[ii] See prior works of Elipandus for the explanation of this term.
[iii] Arius, whose conception of the Father-Son relationship in the Trinity (i.e. that the Son is lesser than the Father) was condemned as heresy.
[iv] As before, it should be noted that this realm is not the modern-day Austria we know.
[v] Saint Ambrose of Milan.
[vi] Saint Isidore of Seville.
[vii] Saint Jerome.
[viii] 1 Kings 22:22.
[ix] Actually a quotation from Jerome (letter 69.8).
[x] Isaiah 14:29.
[xi] Cf. Acts 7:56.
[xii] Cf. Revelation 2:6.
[xiii] Saint Vincentius of Saragossa, a fourth century Christian martyr.
[xv] There are multiple Christian martyrs who were called Felix. But it is not clear to me which Felix is meant here. I also do not know who the Rufinus mentioned here is.
[xvi] i.e. Felix of Urgell, who also espoused Elipandus' adoptionist doctrine.
[xvii] Isaiah 32:6.
[xviii] Jeremiah 9:5.
[xix] 1 Corinthians 2:14.
[xx] Psalm 8:3.
[xxi] Luke 24:25-26.
[xxii] Galatians 3:1.
[xxiii] Matthew 7:13-14.
[xxiv] Cf. Luke 16:19-31. Eleazar is another name for Lazarus.
[xxv] James 3:15.
[xxvi] Matthew 18:20.
[xxvii] James 2:5.
[xxviii] Psalm 33:11.
[xxix] Psalm 61:11.
[xxx] Psalm 38:7.
[xxxi] 2 Samuel 7:12-14.
[xxxii] Psalm 131:11.
[xxxiii] Isaiah 11:10.
[xxxiv] Joachim, known as the father of Mary.
[xxxv] Luke 10:16.
[xxxvi] Isaiah 8:16.
[xxxvii] Saint Athanasius I of Alexandria.
[xxxviii] Saint Hilary of Poitiers.
[xxxix] Saint Augustine.
[xl] Liébana in Asturias.
[xli] Cf. Job 40:15-23.
[xlii] Elipandus also uses this story regarding Constantine and his supposed descent into Arian heresy in his letter to Charlemagne.
[xliii] i.e. Constantine.
[xliv] Isidore Chron. 334.
[xlv] Reccared I, the Visigothic king of Spain (586-601) who converted to Catholicism.
[xlvii] Carolus Magnus: i.e. Charlemagne.
[xlviii] Deuteronomy 18:5.
[xlix] Matthew 5:13-14 and Matthew 18:18.
[l] Ambrosius, De Incarnationis Dominicae Sacramento. 8:87.
[li] Not Jerome but actually Eutropius, De similitudine carnis peccati.
[lii] Not Jerome but actually Victorinus, Commentary on Revelation 2:17.
[liii] Augustine, Enchiridion 35
[liv] Augustine, Tractate on the Gospel of John 29:8.
[lv] Letters of Pope Leo I (28).
[lvi] John 10:30.
[lvii] John 14:28.
[lviii] Another name for Spain.
[lix] Isidore's Etymologies 7:2:13.
[lx] 1 Corinthians 2:8.
[lxi] Isidore's Etymologies 7:2:45-49.
[lxii] Ecclesiasticus 36:14.
[lxiii] John 10:18.
[lxiv] Luke 23:46.
[lxv] Matthew 27:46.
[lxvi] Matthew 26:39.
[lxvii] Matthew 17:5.
[lxviii] Isaiah 52:13.
[lxix] Isaiah 42:1.
[lxx] Isaiah 11:2-3.
[lxxi] Psalm 67:19.
[lxxii] Psalm 2:8-9.
[lxxiii] Isaiah 45:2-3.
[lxxiv] Galatians 4:4-5.
[lxxv] Isaiah 42:8.
[lxxvi] Isidore's Sententiae 1:14:3.
[lxxvii] Philippians 2:6-8.
[lxxviii] Matthew 9:27.
[lxxix] Luke 1:32.
[lxxx] Distichs of Cato (1:3:2).
[lxxxi] Cf. Leviticus 10:1-2.
[lxxxiii] Liber Sacramentorum c. 237.
[lxxxiv] Liber Sacramentorum c. 271.
[lxxxv] Liber Sacramentorum c. 279.
[lxxxvi] Liber Sacramentorum c. 280.
[lxxxvii] Liber Sacramentorum c. 322.
[lxxxviii] Breviarium Muzarabicum PL 86 c. 1164-1165.
[lxxxix] Liber Ordinum c. 422.
[xc] Liber Ordinum c. 213; cf. Antiphonium Legionense f. 172.
[xci] The following extended quotation is taken from Pope Leo I's Letters (165:4-10).
[xcii] John 1:14.
[xciii] 2 Corinthians 5:19.
[xciv] Romans 5:20.
[xcv] Ephesians 5:2.
[xcvi] Cf. Psalm 115:15.
[xcvii] John 12:32.
[xcviii] Matthew 3:17.
[xcix] John 1:29.
[c] Cf. John 10:30.
[ci] Cf. John 14:28.
[cii] Luke 24:39.
[ciii] John 20:27.
[civ] Acts 4:12.
[cv] 1 Timothy 2:6.
[cvi] Philippians 2:6-11.
[cvii] Cf. John 10:30.
[cviii] Cf. John 5:30.
[cix] Cf. John 5:26.
[cx] Cf. Matthew 26:38.
[cxi] Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9.
[cxii] John 1:1-3.
[cxiii] John 1:14.
[cxiv] Job 20:27.
[cxv] Psalm 18:2.
[cxvi] The following Augustine quotations in this section are taken from Letter 169 to Evodius. However, it would appear that wherever the word 'adopted' occurs in the quotations, the word has been inserted by Elipandus, perhaps as a parenthetical insertion of his own, and does not occur in the original letter (cf. here).
[cxvii] John 10:3.
[cxviii] Proverbs 19:5.
[cxix] For the latter words (God will render unto him etc.), cf. 2 Timothy 4:14.
[cxx] Isidore's Etymologies 7:2:46.
[cxxi] Unknown quotation from Julian of Toledo.
[cxxii] Ezekiel 3:26.
[cxxiii] In reference to the fact that Arius was from Alexandria.
[cxxiv] Cyprianus letter 66:10.
[cxxv] John 6:66.
[cxxvi] Matthew 8:19-20.
[cxxvii] Distichs of Cato 1:3:2.
[cxxviii] Exodus 34:26.
[cxxix] Isidore Chron. 334.