Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Blumenshine, Gary B., ed., Liber Alcuini Contra Haeresim Felicis (Vatican: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana)

Text name(s): Liber Contra Haeresim Felicis; Book against the Heresy of Felix

Number of pages of primary source text: 54

Author(s): 

Dates: 797 - 798

Archival Reference: This edition is based on a single manuscript, Vatican Palatinus latinus 290, foll. 1-34.

Original Language(s): 

  • Latin

Translation: 

  • Original language included.

Translation Comments: 

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • Europe

County/Region: 

Record Types: 

  • Theology - Doctrine

Subject Headings: 

  • Carolingians
  • Church Fathers
  • Heresy
  • Philosophy / Theology
  • Theology - Christology
  • Theology - Scriptural / Exegesis

Apparatus: 

  • Index
  • Bibliography
  • Introduction

Comments: 

Alcuin of York, often nicknamed Albinus or Flaccus (after Horace) because of his mastery of Latin literature and learning, was an illustrious scholar, poet, and teacher summoned from England by Charlemagne to crown his already impressively erudite court in Aachen. The most identifiable figure behind the so-called Carolingian Renaissance, Alcuin also served Charlemagne in important advising functions, especially in ecclesiastical matters, from the 780’s until his death in 804. The Liber Contra Haeresim Felicis was Alcuin’s first treatise against the heresy of adoptionism espoused by Felix of Urgel, a bishop of Northern Spain, which held that Christ was not born divine, but rather became divine over the course of his life by the working of grace. Originally a christological dispute internal to the Visigothic church (adoptionism was advanced by the Primate of Spain himself), this deviation from orthodoxy, perhaps accompanied as well by political or social opposition, eventually spread into Gaul through Felix’s writings and prompted a combative response from Pope Hadrian and Charlemagne. Written in the service of the Frankish king and the standard of orthodoxy he represented, the Liber contra Haeresim Felicis combines Biblical exegesis and patristic scholarship in a work that is representative of the theological dimensions that Carolingian intellectual life often took on. This volume, the authoritative edition of this text, contains an index of patristic sources.

Introduction Summary: 

The thorough introduction (54 pp., in English) contains the historical and theological background necessary for understanding the phenomenon of adoptionism in Carolingian times, focusing on the possible political resonances this dispute may have had, describes Alcuin’s stance toward adoptionism and his extensive efforts against it, details the composition, sources, and content of the text, and offers an accessible account of the textual tradition of the Liber and the editorial method used in the present volume.

Cataloger: WLL

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