For other writings of Bishop Elipandus, see:
This short letter by Elipandus was written to the abbot Fidelis, whose name translates as 'faithful/believer' in Latin. Fidelis was living in the Christian kingdom of Asturias in northern Iberia. In the letter, Elipandus contrasts between the supposed humbleness of himself and his supporters and the arrogance of their opponents, employing a similar accusation that he used against Migetius as he claims that his opponents have the haughtiness of presuming to teach rather than ask questions. In this same letter Elipandus references his refutation of Migetius' heresies, and refers to the teachings of Beatus, an Asturian opponent of his doctrine of adoptionism who is now venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church. Elipandus compares Beatus to the fourth-century figures Bonosus and Faustus the Manichaean and hopes that Beatus' teachings will be extirpated from Asturias just as Migetius' teachings have supposedly been extirpated from Baetica (southern Iberia: i.e. Muslim-controlled Spain).
I would like to dedicate this translation and commentary to Caleb Weiss, a friend who recently completed his Master's degree and has done some great work on jihadism in Africa. Here is hoping to many years of success for you.
The edition of the Latin text used is that contained in Juan Gil's Corpus Scriptorum Muzarabicorum.
Letter to Fidelis
He who does not profess that Jesus Christ is adopted in humanity and is in no way adopted in divinity, and is himself a heretic, let him be exterminated. 'Remove evil from your land.'[i] They do not ask me questions, but they seek to teach, because they are the servants of the Antichrist. Thus I have directed this letter of lord Ascaricus the bishop to your fraternity, oh most dear believer, so that you may know what great humility reigns in the servants of Christ and what great arrogance reigns in the disciples of the Antichrist, since lord Ascaricus wanted to write those things to me not with the command of a teacher, but with the vow of one asking questions, just as the true humility taught him, whereas these people sometimes said contrary things, and sometimes did not want to ask me questions, but teach me, as though I am ignorant regarding what is right. Hence God knows that they had in fact written in a vehement manner, for if they had said true things, I should have gladly obeyed, remembering what has been written: 'If it is revealed to a junior let the senior be quiet,' and also: 'Nearest to God is the one who knows how to be silent for a reason.' But it has never been heard that the Libanenses[ii] had taught the Toletanians.[iii] It has been known to all the people that this seat has been prominent in holy doctrines from the beginning of the faith and never has anything schismatic emanated from it; and now one sick sheep purports to be a teacher for us?
And nonetheless I did not want to bring these things to the ears of the rest of our brothers, before that, where the evil of this sort has arisen, should be amputated from the roots, because it will be disgrace to me if within the Toletanian diction this evil should be heard, especially as I and the rest of my brothers have judged in such great time on the Ispalitanians[iv] and with God's help we have corrected the heresy both regarding the festive days of the Pascalia[v] and the rest of the errors of the Migetians.[vi] Now let them on the contrary find the means to refute us. And nonetheless if it is done tepidly and not emended by you, then I will lead that to the notification of the brothers and it will be disgraceful for you if it is rebuked by them against you.
May your fraternity educate soberly the youth of our brother Heterius, still fed on milk and not yet led to the strength of perfected understanding, because he has had meetings not with the best teachers, but with the ignorant ones and schismatics, that is Felix and Beatus[vii] the anti-phrasians,[viii] equal in virtue and equal in error. Bonosus[ix] and Beatus have been condemned for their equal error: the former believed that he[x] was adopted from the mother and not properly born or incarnated from the Father before the ages; the latter will believe that he was born from the Father and not temporally adopted from the mother. To whom will I think that man[xi] to be similar except Faustus Maniceus[xii]? Faustus condemned the patriarchs and prophets, while this person condemns the original and modern teachers. I beseech that inflamed with the heat of faith and hot with such great intention of thirst you remove the aforementioned error from your midst, so that just as the Lord through His servants has eradicated the Migetian heresy from the territory of Baetica, so through you He will tear out by the roots the Beatian heresy from the territory of the Asturians. But as I have heard that the precursor of the Antichrist has appeared in your midst, who declares that he has already been born, I beseech that you ask him where, or how, or when he was born. May that lying spirit of the prophets which speaks on it render us anxious. The end.
[i] 1 Corinthians 5:13.
[ii] The people of Liébana.
[iii] The people of Toledo.
[iv] The people of Seville.
[v] Holy Week.
[vii] Saint Beatus of Liébana: an eighth century Asturian 'presbyter' who opposed the adoptionist ideas of Elipandus.
[viii] The author is referring to the meanings of the Latin names (i.e. Felix meaning 'happy/lucky etc.' and Beatus meaning 'blessed') of these individuals he condemns.
[ix] Fourth century bishop who was condemned for heresy.
[x] i.e. Christ.
[xi] i.e. Beatus.
[xii] Faustus of Mileve, a Manichaean bishop who lived in the fourth century.