For other writings of the Elipandus corpus, see:
. Letter to Migetius
. Symbol of the Elipandian Faith
. Letter to Fidelis
. Letter of the Bishops of Spain
The following brief letter was written by Bishop Elipandus of Toledo to Charlemagne (aka Carolus Magnus), who became the first emperor of what would come to be called the Holy Roman Empire. In this letter, Elipandus urges Charlemagne to reject the teachings of Beatus in opposition to his own teachings on Adoptionism, and to act as a fair judge between Felix (the bishop of Urgell who supported Adoptionism and suffered condemnation) and those who defend Beatus' teachings. Elipandus warns Charlemagne that he risks going the way of Constantine the Great, who supposedly became an Arian heretic and was thus condemned to Hell, and that many souls risk being led to perdition through the teachings of Beatus. The letter also features familiar insults against Beatus.
I would like to dedicate this translation and commentary to Aerina, my new friend from St. Louis (Missouri) whom I met on my flight heading home from Detroit. Aerina, although you only speak one language at the moment, I hope this translation and commentary will inspire you to start learning Latin, even though you have said that Latin is a dead language. Learning Latin could well help you to learn Romanian, which you will need on your onward journey, and could help you deepen your understanding of Christian history.
The edition of the Latin text used is that contained in Juan Gil's Corpus Scriptorum Muzarabicorum. I have also relied on it for the Biblical and other literature references as outlined in the notes.
To the renowned lord and glorious leader of various peoples, eternal salutations in the name of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
That renowned and solemn name of your glory, with God's support like an ethereal ray of sunlight above all the kings of the earth, whose opinion blazes almost in the whole world like an odour that is of nectar and precious in pure nard-oil, emits a scent to our heart from the depth of the chest. We incline and prostrate on the ground and offer prayers to the eternal King so that its safety may be preserved through him for a long time with the protection of the divine right hand, for the sake of the salvation of the whole Catholic Church.
With these things said as a preface, it has come to the notification of your servants that the writings of the filthy vapour of the anti-phrasian[i] Beatus has polluted with their poison the hearts of certain priests who pay little attention, in that [he denies][ii] God as the Son of God Only-Begotten without time and without adoption, now in the end of time the full and perfect man for the salvation and redemption of the human race, similar to the human race except for the contagion of crime, sharing and conforming and co-heir, according to the faith of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, evangelists and teachers, about whom the Lord has spoken: 'You are the light of the world and you are the salt of the earth.'[iii] And: 'He who hears you, hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me.'[iv] [...][v] The wicked presbyter and pseudoprophet had asserted that the Son of God had in no way assumed adoption of the flesh from the womb of the virgin after emptying out the deity in the form of the servant. Against his insanity we, unworthy and inadequate as we are, directed a letter according to the tenuity of our sense to the priests subjected to your regime, In order that it should be reviewed, discussed and presented to your holy sight. We ask you by him, who extended his innocent hands for your sake on the cross and poured out his precious blood for you and endured death and the tomb for you and to free the elect descended to hell and rising again for you showed to you the way of turning back to the heavens- that is, the heavenly homeland: we demand you to sit through yourself as arbiter and judge with chaste and sound judgement between Felix the bishop, whom we have known from the age of entry to be the nearest defender of our party in the service of God, and those, who defend the aforementioned anti-phrasian Beatus who is sacrilegious and stuffed with the crime of flesh. And we ask that you bring forth the pronouncement with fair weight far removed from the odour of adoration, just as God the Son of God should subject to you the necks of the barbarian peoples and all haughty ones through the command of your power and wear out rather swiftly their teeth and reduce their glory into dust. Indeed there were still some necessary things that we should insinuate by the running pen to your eminence, elevated as it is with God as praesul, but as we are impeded by the narrowness of time, we have placed for the letter-bearer to insinuate to you by mouth that which we have not been able to explain in word. Also worn out with excessive grief we recall the pronouncement of the Lord that is in no way unknown to you, as he says: 'Learn from me that I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.'[vi] And note also that instance when he freed from the stones of the Jews the woman who was arrested for adultery and warned that she should not repeat the crime.
Therefore, as though we are prostrate before your sight, we ask with tears that you should restore your servant Felix to his original honour and change the pastor for the flock dispersed by rapacious wolves, remembering also that which the Omnipotent God may bring about far removed from you, concerning Constantinus the emperor.[vii] When he was a follower of idolatry, he became a Christian through the blessed Silvestrius,[viii] but afterwards through the serpent who was his sister, he rejected the opinion of the 318 saints[ix] and became converted into the Arrian dogma and submerged to hell in lamentable ruin he ended his last day. About him the blessed Ysidorus says: 'Alas: he had a good beginning and a bad end.'[x] Hence also we ask that you abolish from your realm the doctrine of the most filthy anti-phrasian Beatus, who denies that the Son of God assumed the true flesh from the virgin similar to our flesh minus sin. And we ask that you should order for the Catholic faith to be held in pure discourse by the people subject to you.
But also that should be feared, oh most pious lord for us servile ones, lest perchance the execrable calamity of the old enemy (may it not be so) should dominate invisibly where, even with the Lord as praesul, your visible power over the peoples has not entered by your merit, and it can then acquire for itself the perdition of many souls through the aforementioned anti-phrasian Beatus who is given to the lasciviousness of the flesh and it can lead with it to the hell of the eternal fire those souls to be burnt in the fire. May that inner depth of your sacred chest reflect and consider that which is truly pleasing to God, and may the fire of your work be fragrant in His sight and may the burnt offering of incense of good odour blow. May also your kindness remember that when Peter the chief of the apostles ordained for there to be circumcision among the Gentiles, he is recognised to have been rebuked not in hidden manner but in a public manner by the younger Paul, who said: 'If you, although you are a Jew, live as a Gentile and not as a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to undergo Judaification?' [xi]This opinion was not despised by the aforementioned chief of the apostles as he concorded with reason and was a friend of the truth, but rather he immediately acquiesced, recalling that which was been written: 'If it is revealed to a younger, let the senior be quiet.'[xii] And: 'Nearest to God is the one who knows how to be silent at the account of reason.'[xiii] For also the Omnipotent God sometimes changes His pronouncement, but never the plan, as occurred concerning Ezecia.[xiv] Indeed the learned will understand why I have said these things, but also that: 'Do not despise as one man the counsel of the many,'[xv] that is do not reprimand alone the pronouncements of so many venerable fathers concerning the adoption of the flesh of Christ. For it is said that you overcome the many by the terror of power, not justice. Let it be a source of grief for your piety that the same filthy Beatus boasts that after the conversion he has gone back again and again to the bed of the prostitute and writes in all parts claiming that the glorious chief has both been turned away from error through his horrible doctrine and has been confirmed in the Catholic faith. But also the useless opinion has been divulged among the peoples, which is wicked to be believed, that in the manner of the heathens[xvi] you have denied that Christ is the Son of God the Father. With these things revealed we ask that secretly your discourse in reply should illuminate us, so as to make us joyful and the prayer of your servants sold exalt the dignity of your power. Amen.
[i] For the meaning of this word, see the prior documents of the Elipandus corpus.
[ii] The apparent anacoluthon here seems to be the result of a later gap in the original text.
[iii] Matthew 5:13-14.
[iv] Luke 10:16.
[v] There is a gap in the original text here.
[vi] Matthew 11:29.
[vii] Constantine the Great. The sister referenced in this section is Constantia.
[viii] Pope Sylvester I.
[ix] The reference here is to the claimed figure of 318 bishops who attended the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.
[x] Isidore of Seville's Chronicon 99 (English translation by Kenneth Baxter Wolf here).
[xi] Galatians 2:14.
[xii] Unknown citation.
[xiii] Distichs of Cato 1:3:2.
[xiv] Ezekiel. For a brief overview of the controversy about whether God changes His mind and Ezekiel's story, see here.
[xv] Unknown citation.
[xvi] i.e. The Muslims, who deny that Christ is the Son of God.