An Historical and Doctrinal Exposition of the Apostles’,
Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds
by Alfred G. Mortimer
Longmans, Green, and Co., 1902
[Footnotes have been moved to follow the paragraphs in which they are cited.
Bible citations have been converted from Roman to all Arabic numerals.]
Among the characteristics which distinguish Christianity from all other religions of the world, one of the most prominent is its possession of a Creed and of a system of dogmatic theology. Long before the Church of Jesus Christ was founded the world had its religions; for the religious instinct is universal in human nature. But, with the exception of Judaism, of which Christianity was the offspring, all religions differed from Christianity in that they had no Creed, no Rule of Faith, no theology.
Ancient peoples worshipped their gods with religious ceremonies;1 they offered sacrifices, they recognised a priesthood, they speculated about the immortality of the soul and the life beyond the grave, and they had their rules of conduct by which they strove to guide and restrain man in this present life; but they had no Creed and no theology. The history of their gods was interwoven with strange legends and with myths which presented in an attractive form the operations of the powers of nature; but whether these nature powers or a personal God was the true object of their worship probably few inquired, and to those who asked no definite or authoritative answer could be given.
1Cf. Leibnitz, Preface to Essais de Théodicée.
With Christianity, and in a lesser degree with Judaism, all is quite different; for the God who revealed Himself to the Patriarchs, and more fully to Moses, revealed Himself as essentially a Personal, Self-existent Being, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Supreme Ruler of all, Who bases His claim to man’s obedience on the dogma of His own essential Being, as the Alpha and Omega, the first and final cause of all things.
The dogmas first given to the Jewish Church became in a more fully developed form the foundation of Christianity, for we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.’1 And while the teaching of Jesus Christ is a revelation of truth and righteousness, of dogma and morals, yet the morals are always dependent upon dogma; the laws of a righteous life rest upon right belief, and goodness is as inseparable from truth as effect is from cause.
This is clearly seen in the utterance in which our Lord reveals the purpose of His life on earth on that supreme occasion when to Pilate’s question, ‘Art thou a king then?’ Jesus answers, ‘To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.’1 And it was in accordance with this purpose that when the High Priest said unto him, I adjure Thee by the living God that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God,’ Jesus answered, Thou hast said.’2
1S. John 18:37.
2S. Matt. 26:63, 64.
Although our Blessed Lord knew that this dogmatic statement would cost Him His life, He did not shrink from uttering it. He died, therefore, not for teaching a code of morals, but for bearing witness to the dogmatic truth on which His Church is founded, that He is God.
We may observe the same theological trend in our Lord’s teaching from the very beginning of His ministry, for S. Mark sums up Christ’s first teaching in the words, ‘Repent ye and believe the Gospel’.1 Our Lord does not say, ‘Repent and lead a holy life,’ but, ‘Repent and believe the Gospel’; and although the Gospel was the most sublime system of ethics which the world has ever known, yet, unlike all other ethical systems, it was founded absolutely on dogma, the dogma of the Being and essential Sovereignty of God, and therefore upon man’s obligation to recognise God’s Will as the basis, and God’s revelation as the standard, of all morals.
1S. Mark 1:15.
Thus we learn that according to the teaching of Jesus Christ a right Faith is the only true foundation for a right life, that a Creed is essential to Christianity.
If we now turn in our Bibles from the Gospels to the Epistles, we find in much the same way that although dealing largely with questions of discipline, with the practical life and conduct of the Christian, and with the needs of individual Churches, yet the writers of the Epistles seem ever on the watch for an opportunity of inculcating the doctrines of the Faith, and that, by their frequent exhortations in regard to the importance of a right Faith and their warnings against error, they bear witness to the prominent position which they assigned to the theological aspect of Christianity.
Many of the Epistles are indeed primarily theological treatises, as, for instance, the Epistles to the Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and the First Epistle of S. John. But, even in the two which seem to have had their origin in the promptings of personal affection rather than in the difficulties of those to whom they were addressed, the Epistle to the Philippians and the First Epistle to the Thessalonians,1 we find in the former the most sublime treatment of the doctrine of the Incarnation (Phil. 2:5–12), and in the latter the principal eschatological teaching in Holy Scripture (1 Thess. 4). It is not then too much to say, that throughout the New Testament, dogma is not only interwoven with ethical teaching, but is made the foundation of it.
1The eschatological question, while an important part of the Epistle, seems scarcely to have been the cause of its being written.
We, however, advance a step further when we observe in the Epistles distinct indications of the existence of a recognised form of teaching which, if not precisely a Creed in our sense of the word, was certainly its precursor, and has even been thought by some to have been its actual source. For example, S. Paul says of the Romans, ‘Ye obey the form of doctrine (τύπος διδαχης) into which ye were delivered’;1 and to the Galatians, ‘As many as shall walk according to this Rule (κανών), may peace and mercy be upon them.’2
2Rom. 6:17. 3Gal. 6:16.
In both his Epistles to S. Timothy S. Paul refers to a ‘deposit’ (παρακαταθήκη) which had been committed to him. In the First Epistle he speaks of it as in opposition to the doctrine of false teachers, for he says: ‘Oh Timothy, guard the deposit, turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of science falsely termed.’1 In the Second he parallels the ‘deposit’ with ‘pattern of sound words,’ where he writes: ‘Hold the pattern of sound words which thou didst hear from me in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus, guard the good deposit, through the Holy Ghost that dwelleth in us.’2
11 S. Tim. 6:20. 22 S. Tim. 1:13, 14.
And in the First Epistle to the Corinthians we find a passage which seems to have been the model on which the Eastern Creeds were formed, at least so far as their first and second Articles are concerned. It reads thus:
But to us
1. One GOD, the Father,
Of Whom are all things, and we in Him;
2. And one Lord Jesus Christ,
By Whom are all things, and we by Him.
1 Cor. 8:6.
These and other passages in the New Testament, taken together with similar expressions in the earliest fathers (e.g. S. Irenaeus, ‘The Faith which the Church received from the Apostles and their disciples,’1 ‘The Ancient Tradition,’ ‘The Tradition of Truth’2), have led some to think that a common original drawn up by the Apostles was the basis of the various forms of the Creed in the Western Church.3
1S. Iren., Adv. Haer. x. 1; Migne, P.G. vii. col. 550.
2Ibid. III. iv. 2; Migne, P. G. vii. col. 856.
3Cf. Dr. Pusey’s Note on Tertullian, p. 480, Oxford Library of the Fathers.
Others, with perhaps greater probability, see in the summary referred to here a norma praedicationis. Indeed, we have only to compare the preaching of S. Peter in the earlier chapters of the Acts with similar teaching of S. Paul to see that there was a norma praedicationis or fixed outline of Christian doctrine, which was itself really a brief expansion of the Baptismal Formula; and indeed this Formula, without being actually the common original of the Western Creeds, was doubtless the source from whence they sprang.
In the early Churches we find something even more definite, a Symbolum. Hence, in studying the Creeds, we are carried back to the earliest ages of the Church and to the skeletons around which all her dogmatic theology has grown.
In investigating the Creeds there are obviously two methods which we may apply, the dogmatic and the historical method. We may take the Creeds as we have them now in their perfected form and consider what they teach, or we may trace them back to their source, examining the conditions out of which they grew and the questions and difficulties they were intended to meet. In many respects this latter method is the best, but in its exclusive application it labours under two disadvantages which in our case are insuperable:
(1) It involves the study of the history of the first five centuries of the Church, with a detailed examination of the various heresies and philosophies, to refute which the Eastern Creeds were formulated; but this alone would require a far larger volume than is at our disposal.
(2) Then, on the other hand, this, if completed, while it would be interesting and satisfactory to scholars, would not altogether supply the needs of a large class of writers for whom this volume is designed. Moreover, such historical treatises are already in existence. It is, therefore, evident that the method of this book cannot be exclusively historical.
If, however, we take the dogmatic method alone, that is, the study of the doctrines of the Church as expounded by the Church in her ordinary teaching and as proved from Holy Scripture, and leave out altogether the history of the Creeds, we shall find this also unsatisfactory, in that it leaves many important and interesting questions untouched. It would, therefore, seem best in this little book to try to combine the two methods at least thus far:
(1) First, to give a sketch of the history of the Creeds which, while brief, shall give a fair idea of our present historical knowledge in regard to them.
(2) Then to group the Articles of the three Creeds under the headings of the Articles of the Apostles’ Creed, and to examine their teaching in the light of Holy Scripture and of the theology of the Church.
(3) No attempt will be made to prove the various Articles from Holy Scripture, though passages will be sometimes quoted to illustrate them. Our aim will rather be to give an uncontroversial exposition of the Creed as we find it developed in the ordinary theology of the Church. It must be remembered that this is not a systematic treatise on Dogmatic Theology, but only an Exposition of the Creeds. Hence many subjects which would necessarily have found place in the former are omitted, and in those which are given the limits of space often preclude that fullness of discussion which in a larger volume might be expected.
The three Creeds are commonly known as the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creed, but, as we shall presently show, these titles in each case require to be somewhat qualified, since the sources suggested by the titles are not borne out by the history of the Creeds themselves, that is, they cannot in their present form be traced back respectively to the Apostles, to the Council of Nicaea, and to S. Athanasius.
Of the three Creeds the Western Creed, which we speak of as the Apostles’ Creed, is by far the most ancient; for, if we except the two Articles, ‘He descended into hell’ and ‘the Communion of Saints,’ it came into existence about or shortly before the middle of the second century. This, Professor Harnack tells us, we may regard as an assured result of historical research, while other great scholars would carry back the date some fifty years. The so-called Nicene Creed is but an expansion of this Western Creed (or of the original Creed from which both Eastern and Western Creeds sprang) rendered necessary by certain heresies in the fourth century.
The Creed to which the name of S. Athanasius is attached, while probably traceable to the first half of the fifth century, did not come into existence until at least fifty years after the death of S. Athanasius, and did not originate in the east, but in the south of Gaul.
Of the three Creeds the so-called Nicene Creed can alone be strictly termed ecumenical in the sense that it alone has received the formal sanction of the Church; and, with the exception of the clauses ‘and from the Son,’ and ‘God of God,’ it alone is accepted and used by the whole Church, both East and West, the use of the Apostles’ Creed and the Creed of S. Athanasius being confined, so far as their public recitation is concerned, to the Western Church, although the latter finds a place in the Horologion of the Greek Church.
In order to avoid encumbering the text all the Creeds to which we have had occasion to refer have been relegated to the Appendices. In Appendix A will be found the various forms of the Apostles’ Creed, in B the Nicene, and in C the Athanasian. A note has been added to each giving the date and source.
For convenience of reference in quoting passages from the Fathers we have given not only the book and chapter, but also the volume and column where the passage may be found in Migne’s Patrologia.
Part I – History (on this page below)
I. The Literature of the Apostles’ Creed
II. The Early History of the Apostles’ Creed
III. The Growth of the Apostles’ Creed
IV. Problems Suggested by the History of the Apostles’ Creed
V. Our Nicene Creed
VI. The Later History of the Nicene Creed
VII. The Athanasian Creed
Part II – Exposition (Chapters 1–6)
I. Article I: –
I. Of Faith
II. Of God
III. Of the Holy Trinity
IV. Of the Father Almighty
V. Of Creation
II. Article II –
I. Of Jesus Christ
II. Of the Only Begotten Son of God
III. Of Jesus Christ our Lord
III. Article III: – Of the Incarnation
IV. Article IV: – Of the Atonement
V. Article V: –
I. Of our Lord’s Descent into Hell
II. Of our Lord’s Resurrection
VI. Article VI: – Of the Ascension, Session, and Reign of our Lord
VII. Article VII: – Of the Judgment
VIII. Article VIII: – Of the Holy Ghost (Chapters 7–Apdxs)
IX. Article IX: –
I. Of the Church
II. Of the Communion of Saints
X. Article X – Of the Forgiveness of Sins
XI. Article XI – Of the Resurrection of the Body
XII. Article XII – Of the Life Everlasting
Part III – Appendices
Appendix A – Documents relating to the Apostles’ Creed
Appendix B – Documents relating to the Nicene Creed
Appendix C: – The Athanasian Creed
Part I – History
Chapter I – The Literature of the Apostles’ Creed
Before we approach the history of the Apostles’ Creed it will be well for us briefly to review the literature of the subject, and especially to examine cursorily some of the more important contributions which are the fruits of the recent great activity in this branch of theological research.
The fact that our space forbids any detailed discussion of the many problems suggested by these researches makes it the more needful that we should be able to refer the reader to the works of others in which such treatment finds place, and should give him some idea of the standpoints from which the various writers regard their subject. If we are not able to claim for English theologians of the present day the highest places in original work on the history of the Apostles’ Creed, it is a matter of congratulation that our German contemporaries recognise that the pioneers in this field were two Englishmen, Archbishop Ussher and Dr. Heurtley.
While the earliest critical writers on the Creed were Laurentius Valla (ob. 1457) and Erasmus (ob. 1536), both of whom disputed the traditional view that the Creed was actually drawn up by the Apostles, it was not until the seventeenth century that the value of the documentary evidence for the character and origin of the Creed was seriously considered.
In 1642 Gerard Jean Voss put forth his work De Tribus Symbolis, in which he attempted to investigate the historical evidence for the antiquity of the Creeds; and five years later James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, in his great work De Symbolo Romano, replied to Voss, taking exception especially to the date (the ninth century) which he assigned to the Athanasian Creed. He supported his opinion by reference to two manuscripts which he had found in the Cotton Library: the older, which is generally known as the Utrecht Psalter, Ussher judged to be not later than the time of Gregory the Great; the other, generally known as the Athelstan Psalter, to have been written about the year 703. Modern criticism has not sustained the verdict of Ussher in regard to the dates of those two manuscripts, but it has accorded to him the credit of being the pioneer in this field of investigation.
Ussher’s work was followed in the next decade (1659) by Bishop Pearson’s great treatise on the Creed, which was, however, written from a dogmatic rather than from an historical point of view. Then there appeared in Holland in 1681 the treatise of Hermann Witsen, Exercitationes Sacrae in Symbolum quod Apostolorum dicitur.
In England there appeared in 1702 Lord King’s History of the Apostles’ Creed, and in 1708–1722 Bingham’s Origenes, book x. of which is devoted to the sources of the Apostles’ Creed. In 1770 Walch published his Bibliotheca Symbolorum Veterum, and in 1842 Hahn put forth his Bibliothek der Symbole, but no great advance in the historico-critical method was made in these works.
The great impulse to the more thorough investigation of the history and origin of the Apostles’ Creed was given by the appearance in 1858 of the Harmonia Symbolica of the Rev. Dr. Heurtley, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford. This work, which may be said to have inaugurated a new era in the study of the Creeds, exhibits them in chronological order, showing their variations, and noting the date at which the phrases which eventually found their way into the present Creed first made their appearance in the more ancient forms. To this was added a brief historical review of the several articles of the Creed. And this was supplemented some years later by Dr. Heurtley’s De fide et Symbolo documenta quaedam, etc. (ed. tert. 1884).
If to Dr. Heurtley belongs the first place in order of time among the new school of investigators into the documentary evidence for the Apostles’ Creed, it is to Dr. Caspari that we must assign the highest place for independent work in this field. Indeed, it is not too much to say that his labours have rendered possible the library of scientific treatises on the subject which has appeared within the past quarter of a century. He provided material which others worked upon. He discovered the rich ore from which others are still engaged in laboriously extracting precious treasure.
Dr. C. P. Caspari, Professor of Theology in the University of Norway, having already made for himself a reputation in the fields of Old Testament exegesis, in 1866 put forth the first of his University Programmes entitled Ungedruckte, unbeachtete und wenig beachtete Quellen zur Geschichte des Taufsymbols und der Glaubensregel. To the work of accumulating a mass of carefully sifted material in preparation for a history of the Creed he devoted the remainder of his life (ob. 1892). Libraries were ransacked both in England and on the Continent, manuscripts collated, and the results of his work given to the world in a series of publications issued respectively in 1866, 1869, 1875, 1879, and 1890.
Caspari seems to have been content with collecting rich stores of material from which others have built up theories, the only opinion which he allowed himself to express being found in a paragraph of some five lines in the midst of detailed researches:
‘After what we have been saying, we may, and indeed must, assume that the Creed came to Rome on the boundary line between the Apostolic and the sub-Apostolic age, substantially in the form which it has in the old Roman Creed, and probably from Asia Minor, from the Johannine Circle, which may well have been its birthplace.’1
1Caspari, Quellen, 161.
To Caspari every student of the Creeds is under the deepest obligation, but the somewhat confusing arrangement of his work and the lack of an index leads most students to use Hahn’s Bibliothek, which, however, in its latest form largely owes its value to the material gathered by Caspari.
In 1892 Dr. Adolf Harnack, Professor of Theology in the University of Berlin, published his famous pamphlet Das Apostolische Glaubensbekenntniss: ein geschichtlicher Bericht nebst einem Nachwort, which, after passing through some twenty-five editions within a year in Germany, was translated by Mrs. Humphrey Ward, and appeared (with a preface by her) in the Century for July 1893. In this pamphlet Dr. Harnack does not confine himself to the history of the Creed, but advances opinions tending to discredit the Creed as teaching Apostolic doctrine. For he not only contends that even the earliest form of the Apostles’ Creed (Roman) contains articles of faith in excess of the Apostolic teaching, e.g. the miraculous conception of our Lord and the Resurrection of the flesh, but that even those articles which he acknowledges to be primitive have received interpretations which are foreign to their original meaning in the Creed. Under this last head he places the terms ‘Father’ ‘Only Son’, and ‘Holy Ghost’, as interpreted of the hypostatic Trinity.
These opinions are supported not by arguments, which the limits of his pamphlet do not permit him to employ, but merely by the authority which attaches to his own name as one of the greatest historical scholars of the day. They have been met and refuted by many, perhaps most thoroughly by Professor Zahn in 1893 in his Das Apostolische Symbolum. An English translation of this valuable work, for which we are indebted to the Rev. A. E. Burn and C. E. Burn, appeared in 1899 under the title The Apostles’ Creed (Methuen).
In 1894 Dr. Swete, Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge, put forth a most careful and convincing examination of Harnack’s pamphlet, so far at least as the opinions referred to are concerned. This little book, while on quite different lines from Dr. Zahn’s, is not less satisfactory, and both may be commended to such English readers as may have been disturbed by the theories of Harnack and his school.
Harnack’s work on the Creed is by no means confined to the above pamphlet. We have a more recent summary of his views in the article on the Apostles’ Creed contributed to the second edition of the Hauck-Herzog Real-Encyclopädie, an English translation of which, as it stands in the third edition, has recently (1901) been presented to English readers by the Rev. Stewart Means, revised and edited by Thomas Bailey Saunders (A. and C. Black, London).1
1Besides these two works Dr. Harnack has contributed many papers on the Creed to various theological reviews. He discusses it also in his Patr. App. Opp. (pub. 1878); in his History of Dogma, vol. i. cap. iii.; also in the Appendix to the third edition of Hahn’s Bibliothek der Symbole.
In 1893 there appeared Zahn’s work Das Apostolische Symbolum, to which we have already referred. It consists of two parts: the first is a somewhat discursive examination of the history of the old Roman Creed; the second, a treatise on the separate articles of the Creed as we now use it. It has the great merit of having been written from an orthodox standpoint. It is perhaps original in suggesting a Roman recension of the first article in the early years of the third century, and in tracing the earliest form of the Creed back to a baptismal confession which had taken shape in the Apostolic age.
In 1894 and 1895 Dr. Loofs contributed to the subject some papers in the Göttingische Gelehrte Anzeigen. He suggests that the Creed-like passages in Irenaeus (with one exception) are distinctively Eastern, and were probably brought by him from Smyrna, and that this would carry back the Eastern type of Creed to the middle of the second century, whereas Harnack and Kattenbusch refuse to recognise an Eastern type before the end of the third century (c. 272).
In 1895 Dr. J. Kunze put forth his Marcus Eremita, and in 1899 his Glaubensregeln. In the former work he tries to prove that the Creed of Mark the Hermit is really the local Creed of Ancyra, and so to establish a local Creed for Galatia. In his Glaubensregeln he combats Kattenbusch’s view that there was a sharp distinction between the East and West in regard to the ‘Rule of Faith’: that in the East it was the Scriptures, and in the West the Creed. Kunze would make the ‘Rule of Faith’ embrace both the Scriptures and the Creed, though he recognises that individual writers might lean sometimes more to the one than to the other.
In 1900 Dr. Carl Clemen’s Niedergefahren zu den Toten appeared, his work being on the ‘Descensus ad inferos.’ He treats only incidentally the other articles of the Creed, though the ‘Sanctorum Communio’ is dealt with in some detail.
In the same year Dr. J. P. Kirsch put forth the first volume of a work on the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, in which this article of the Creed is carefully examined. He advances the view that Nicetas of Remesiana (in whose writings the clause ‘Sanctorum Communio’ is first found) received his form of Creed from Gaul and not from the East, as is commonly held.
In 1898 the first part of Dr. Bernhard Dorholt’s Das Taufsymbolum der alien Kirche was published. In it he brings forward the view of a Polish Jesuit, Marian Morawski, who in the Zeitschrft für Kath. Theologie (1895) suggests, from the prevalence of the clause ‘Sub Pontio Pilato’ in the very earliest Creed-forms, that the choice of a procurator of Judea (in preference to an emperor or consul) for the purpose of fixing the date of our Lord’s Crucifixion, implies that the author of the Creed was a provincial and that his province was Judea. These last two writers belong to the Roman Catholic Communion.
Let us now turn back to the principal works on the Creed which have appeared in England, and let us start from Heurtley’s great work Harmonia Symbolica in 1858, to which we have already referred.
In 1872 Rev. Edmund Ffoulkes put forth a book on The Athanasian Creed ... with other Inquiries on Creeds in General. The extravagance of some of his hypotheses is exposed by Dr. Lumby.1
1Lumby’s The History of the Creeds, p. 127.
This was followed in 1873 by Dr. Lumby’s The History of the Creeds, a work of much interest and at the time of considerable value.
In 1875 Canon Swainson published his work on The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, which also contained an account of the Athanasian Creed. This was the most elaborate work on the subject up to that date, though some of its hypotheses would now find no supporters, as, for instance, that Marcellus of Ancyra was the author of the Roman Creed. It, however, contains much interesting material.
The latest, and in some respects most valuable, of English works on the Creed is the Rev. A. E. Burn’s An Introduction to the Creeds, published in 1898. Mr. Burn is a follower of Zahn, though there is in his work much of original research and theory, and it may be recommended to readers who desire a fuller account of the Creeds than the limits of this volume allow, as the most satisfactory work in English on this subject.
We must not, however, close this list without grateful reference to two most interesting and helpful articles1 by Dr. Sanday, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford, in the Journal of Theological Studies for October 1899 and October 1901. These articles are entitled respectively Recent Research on the Origin of the Creed and Further Research in the History of the Creed, and they summarise in a very luminous manner the opinions of recent German writers upon the subject.
1To these articles, as to many other of Dr. Sanday’s works, the author is very greatly indebted.
Chapter II – The Early History of the Apostles’ Creed
The time has not yet come when a complete history of the Apostles’ Creed can be written, perhaps it may never come; and yet this is not so much from lack of materials for a history as from the difficulty of interpreting them.
The manuscripts collated by Caspari and others, and contained in the latest (third) edition of Hahn’s Bibliothek der Symbole, form a store from which a great history might be expected, but so far they have only afforded material for conflicting theories in regard to most of the questions raised. On this account, and for the sake of clearness, we shall divide our treatment of the early history of the Apostles’ Creed into two parts, in the first indicating the sources of the Creed, so far as scholars seem to have reached an agreement in regard to them; and reserving as much as possible for a separate chapter those problems connected with its early history for which no authoritative solution can yet be said to have been found.
I. The Apostles’ Creed, precisely as we have it in our service-books today, is first found in the writings of Pirminius (or Priminius) about the year 750. It is contained in a short treatise published by Mabillon from an ancient manuscript entitled Libellus Pirminii de singulis libris canonicis scarapsus.1
1Mabillon, Analecta, tom. iv. p. 575.
The birthplace of Pirminius is unknown. He is, however, said to have left his native country and to have gone into France, and then into Germany, preaching the Gospel, and to have been a most successful missionary. He founded several monasteries and died in one of them, Hornbach, about the year 758.
In his treatise the Creed is found twice, the first time with the story of the several articles having been contributed each by an Apostle, and with the respective articles assigned to their supposed authors. The other Creed is given as it was used in the baptismal service. These Creeds are precisely similar to that which we now use, except that in the fifth article we find ‘ad inferna’ instead of ‘ad inferos.’1
1Cf. Creed of Pirminius, Appendix A, p. 299.
Many Creeds extending back more than a century before this are very similar to ours, and if we take them together we can find in them all the articles of our Creed, but the Creed of Pirminius is the first which is really identical with ours in every article.
II. If we go back nearly four centuries we find in three independent documents evidence of the existence of a Creed so much like our own as to be evidently its ancestor, and this Creed we learn was the Creed of the Roman Church.
i. About the year 400 Rufinus, a presbyter of the Church of Aquileia, wrote a commentary on the Creed of the Church of Aquileia, in which he carefully points out the differences between his Creed and that of the Roman Church. While he does not in his exposition in any one place give the Creed in full, yet as he comments on the different articles it is not difficult to reconstruct the Creed on which he is commenting by separating it from the context.1 From the work of Rufinus we learn three important facts:
1Cf. Creed of Rufinus, Appendix A, p. 295.
1. What the Roman Creed was in his day.
2. That in his time the tradition that the Creed was composed by the Apostles before they left Jerusalem was known and accepted.
3. That in other churches additions had been made to the Creed to meet certain heresies, but that the Church in Rome had remained free from heresy, and had kept up the ancient custom that candidates for baptism should repeat the Creed publicly, so that no additions had been permitted.
ii. The second document which we have to consider is a sermon entitled ‘Explanatio symboli ad initiandos.’1 It is found in three manuscripts2 and assigned to three different authors; in the oldest, which is found in the Vatican Library and is said to have come from Bobbio, it is ascribed to S. Ambrose. In the others it is ascribed respectively to S. Maximus of Turin and S. Augustine.
1Cf. Creed of S. Ambrose, Appendix A, p. 295.
2(1) Cod. Vat., 5760; (2) Cod. Lamb.; (3) Cod. S. Gall., 188.
Caspari,1 who discusses the question very thoroughly, reaches the conclusion that it is undoubtedly the work of S. Ambrose, and his opinion is accepted by Harnack, Zahn, and most scholars, though Kattenbusch assigns to it a date later than the work of Rufinus, thinking that he finds in it traces of quotations from Rufinus. His opinion, however, has few followers, and we may safely accept the view which regards it as an undoubted work of S. Ambrose.
1Caspari, Quellen, II. xiv. pp. 48–127.
S. Ambrose, like Rufinus, testifies that the Roman Church preserved the exact words of the Creed with the most scrupulous fidelity, and like him gives the legend of the symbol having been composed by the Apostles. Indeed, the Apostolic origin of this symbol is also independently asserted by S. Jerome,1 by the Roman Bishops Celestin I, Sixtus III, Leo I, by Vigilius of Thapsus, and in the Sacramentarium Gelasianum.2 All these wrote between the years 422 and 461, so that the belief in the Apostolic origin of the Creed may be said to have been generally received in Rome by the end of the fourth century.
1Liber contra Joann. Hierosol., c. xxviii. Migne, P. L. xxiii. col, 380.
2Caspari, ii. 108, iii. 94.
iii. By far the most important witness to the Roman Creed in the fourth century is Marcellus of Ancyra. Marcellus had defended the orthodox faith at the Council of Nicaea, and so had drawn upon himself the enmity of the Arian party, and through their influence he was anathematised, deposed, and banished. He repaired to Rome and remained there about fifteen months, and on leaving in the year 341 addressed a letter to Julius, Bishop of Rome, asserting his orthodoxy and giving the Creed, which he says was ‘the faith he had been taught by his forefathers in God out of the Sacred Scriptures, and which he had himself been accustomed to preach in the Church of God.’
We find this letter and Creed in the Treatise on Heresies of S. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis.1 From the wording of his letter we should have supposed the Creed to be the local Creed of Ancyra, but, as Archbishop Ussher first pointed out, it is not an Eastern Creed at all, but the Creed of the Roman Church, and evidently adopted by Marcellus as a proof of his orthodoxy.
1Epiph., Haeres. LXXII. (Migne, P. G. xlii. col. 385).
It corresponds precisely with the Roman Creed as given by Rufinus, with the exception of the omission of the word ‘Father’ in the first article, and the addition of the clause ‘life everlasting’ in the last.1 The omission certainly, and possibly the addition, may be accounted for by the carelessness of copyists, the manuscripts in which this part of the text of Epiphanius is preserved being full of errors, though the ‘life everlasting’ at that date is distinctly Eastern.
3Cf. Creed of Marcellus, Appendix A, p. 295
We are thus enabled to compare our Creed (which hereafter will be signified by the letter ‘T’—Textus receptus) with that in use in the Roman Church in the year 341 (which we shall refer to as ‘R’—Roman), and in doing so we observe that our Creed is undoubtedly only a development of the Roman Creed, the following clauses, ‘Maker of heaven and earth,’ ‘He descended into hell,’ ‘the Communion of Saints,’ having been added, and the words ‘conceived’ in the third article, ‘suffered’ and ‘dead’ in the fourth, ‘God’ and ‘Almighty’ in the seventh, ‘Catholic’ in the ninth, and ‘life everlasting’ in the twelfth. This will be seen in the following parallel:
CREED OF MARCELLUS.
I.—1. I believe in God Almighty.
I.—1. I believe in God [the Father] Almighty, [Maker of heaven and earth]:
II.—2. And in Christ Jesus His only [Begotten] Son, our Lord,
II.—2. And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord,
3. Born of the Holy Ghost and Mary the Virgin,
3. Who was [conceived] by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary,
4. Under Pontius Pilate crucified and buried,
4. [Suffered] under Pontius Pilate was crucified [dead] and buried.
5. And the third day rose again from the dead,
5. [He descended into hell] The third day He rose again from the dead,
6. Ascended into heaven,
6. He ascended into heaven,
7. And sitteth on the right hand of the Father,
7. And sitteth on the right hand of [God] the Father [Almighty]
8. From whence He cometh to judge quick and dead,
8. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
III.—9. And in the Holy Ghost,
III.—9. [I believe] in the Holy Ghost,
10. [the] holy Church.
10. the holy [Catholic] Church, [the Communion of Saints],
11. [the] forgiveness of sins,
11. the forgiveness of sins,
12. [the] resurrection of the flesh, [the life everlasting].
12. the resurrection of the body [and the life everlasting].
III. We have now before us two distinct tasks:
(1) To trace ‘R’ back to its earliest known sources.
(2) To trace ‘R’ upward to its complete development in ‘T’.
But before proceeding to this work it is necessary to make some preliminary remarks about Creed-forms in the earliest ages of the Church. The form from which all Creeds have sprung is undoubtedly the Baptismal formula to which, in obedience to our Lord’s injunction, were added certain explanatory teachings.1 Just before His Ascension our Lord said to His disciples: ‘Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’
1Dehinc ter mergitamur amplius aliquid respondentes quam Dominus in euangelio determinauit.’—Tert., .De Cor. Milit. c. 3. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 79.
This passage forms the conclusion of the Gospel of S. Matthew, and may be regarded as the germ of all the Creeds. We may observe, first, that these words are associated with the administration of the Sacrament of Baptism, and in the early Church we find the profession of faith inseparably connected with the Sacrament of Baptism, by which men were made members of the Body of Christ, so much so that in S. Cyprian the Creed is called the ‘Sacramentum fidei’.
At first but little was added to the Baptismal formula. Later this was developed into a ‘Symbolum,’ or watchword, containing the principal tenets of the Christian Faith, and this again was developed by way of instruction to catechumens preparing for Baptism. Hence we must recognise three allied but distinct developments of the Baptismal formula in the direction of the Creed. There was:
(i) The interrogatory Creed of Baptism, which was always very brief, and consisted of little more than a confession of faith in the Holy Trinity, and in the remission of sins, and sometimes in the life everlasting through the Holy Church.
(ii) The Symbolum proper, which was imparted just before and recited just after the administration of Baptism; and
(iii) The Rule of Faith, or brief commentary on the Creed given as an instruction to catechumens preparing for Baptism. This expression The Rule of Faith’ was, however, also frequently used for the Creed itself.
We have perhaps the best example of the contemporary existence of these three Creed-forms in the same Church in the Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril of Jerusalem. These lectures were delivered when S. Cyril was only a priest, about the year 347, the five on the Mysteries in the Church of the Resurrection at Jerusalem, the earlier ones in the Basilica of the Holy Cross.
(i) In Lecture 19, section 9, we read: ‘When, therefore, thou renouncest Satan, utterly breaking every compact with him, the old treaty with hell, God opened to thee the Paradise which He planted toward the East, whence for his transgression our first father was driven out, and symbolical of this was thy turning from the West to the East, the place of light. Then thou wert told to say: I believe in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost, and in one Baptism of Repentance’.1
1S. Cyril of Jer. Migne, P. G. xxxiii. col. 1073.
This Baptismal Confession was always put to the catechumens at Baptism in an interrogative form, and is generally spoken of as the ‘Interrogatio de fide’. Indeed, before the Reformation the Apostles’ Creed, as we now have it, was never used at Baptism either as a declaratory or as an interrogatory Creed. The clauses omitted were fewer at one time and more numerous at another; but the essential parts of the Baptismal Confession were probably very much the same as those still retained in the Baptismal office of the Roman Church.
(ii) In Lecture 5, section 12, S. Cyril writes: ‘For since all cannot read the Scriptures, but some are hindered from the knowledge of them by lack of learning, others by lack of leisure, in order that the soul may not perish through ignorance, in the Articles which are few we comprehend the whole doctrine of the Faith. This I wish you to remember – even the very words – and to rehearse it with all diligence by yourself, not writing it on paper, but graving it on the tablets of your heart; being watchful during your meditation, lest haply some of the catechumens overhear the things delivered to you. This I wish you to keep all through your life as a provision for the way. ... And for the present commit to memory the Faith, merely listening to the words, and expect at the fitting season the proof of each of its parts from the Divine Scriptures. For the Articles of the Faith were not composed at the good pleasure of men, but the most important points chosen from all Scripture make up the one teaching of the Faith.’1
1S. Cyril Hier. Migne, P. G. xxxiii. col. 520.
From this passage of S. Cyril we learn that in his time there was, in addition to the Baptismal Confession, a distinct Creed or Articles of Faith,’ drawn from Holy Scripture, and making up the one teaching of the Faith. In Lectures 6–18 (inclusive), we have an exposition of these Articles of the Creed. While the Creed itself, in accordance with the injunction of secrecy already noticed, is nowhere given in full, yet it is not difficult to reconstruct it from the Commentary, and this has been done.1
1In Appendix B, we give S. Cyril’s Creed as thus reconstructed in Hahn.
In the sermons or instructions upon the Creed which have come down to us from the fourth and fifth centuries, we observe that the greatest stress is laid upon the importance of secrecy in regard to it, so much so that S. Cyril and S. Augustine warned their hearers never to commit it to writing, to engrave it only upon the tablets of the memory; and, in connection with this injunction, we may fitly consider the term ‘Symbol’, by which the Apostles’ Creed is so generally known.
The word seems to occur first in S. Cyprian,1 and there is some difference of opinion as to its meaning, some deriving it from σύμβολον, which means a sign, token, or watchword; others from συμβολή, which signifies a collation or summary. Rufinus gives both meanings; S. Ambrose in his Explanatio Symboli, to which we have already referred, gives only the latter. There can, however, be very little doubt that the former is the correct derivation, and that the word ‘Symbol’ as used for the Creed indicates that it was a ‘watchword’ such as the ‘password’ of a soldier.
1S. Cyp., Ep. 69, Ad Magnum, c. vii. Migne, P. L. iii. col. 1143.
This is made almost certain by the word which Tertullian uses to describe it. He says: ‘Videamus, quid didicerit, quid docuerit, quid cum Africanis quoque ecclesiis contesseravit.’1
1Tert., De Praescr. 36. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 49.
The Latin word tessera, which corresponds to the Greek σύμβολον, signified a square tablet on which a watchword was written, or a tally or token which was divided between two friends, in order that by means of it they or their descendants might always recognise each other.1 Hence Tertullian’s use of the word contesseravit evidently implies that by the Symbol he understood a watchword by which orthodox Christians might recognise one another.
1Cf. the article on tesserae in Pitisco, tome iii. pp. 577–580.
It is of importance that we should realise how carefully the early Christians guarded the Symbol, since this fully accounts for the entire absence of any manuscripts containing it. There are many instructions on the Creed from which we can reconstruct with a fair amount of accuracy the Symbol as it then existed, but of the Symbol itself the earliest example which we possess is that contained in the Haeresies of S. Epiphanius, that is, the Roman Creed as professed by Marcellus in his letter to Pope Julius in the year 341.
(iii) In addition to the Baptismal Confession and to the Symbol proper, we find in S. Cyril and other writers brief instructions on the Articles of Faith, which have sometimes been spoken of as ‘The Rule of Faith.’ These differ from the Symbol in that they are more diffuse and that they are not confined to any precise form of words. S. Irenaeus, for instance, speaks of ‘The Rule of Truth’ (ο κανων της αληθείας),1 Tertullian of ‘The Rule of Faith’;2 and other writers, of ‘The Faith’, The Apostolic Preaching’, ‘The Apostolic Tradition,’ etc.
1Iren., Contr. Haer. I. ix. 4. Migne, P. G. vii. col. 545.
2Tert., De Praescr. Haeret. c. xiii., et alibi. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 26.
S. Isidore of Seville in his work on The Ecclesiastical Offices1 gives the tradition that the Apostles, before they parted, drew up a Creed which became in process of time a Symbolum or watchword; but he adds that after the ‘Symbol’ of the Apostles there is the most certain ‘Faith’ which our teachers have handed down, we profess that the Father and Son and Holy Spirit are of one essence, etc., and he concludes the chapter by saying, ‘This is the true entirety of the Catholic Religion and Faith.’ Hence S. Isidore recognises a distinction between the ‘Symbol’ and ‘The Rule of Faith.’
1Isid. Sev., De eccles. officiis, lib. ii. c. xxii–xxiii. Migne, P. L. lxxxiii. col. 815, 816.
The Symbol was always restricted to the Sacrament of Baptism. This was solemnly administered at Easter and Pentecost, and the candidates were prepared carefully by instruction in the Christian religion. A few days before their Baptism the ‘Symbol’ was delivered to them, accompanied by a sermon, such as we find among the works of S. Augustine.1 This ceremony was known as the ‘Traditio Symboli,’ the Delivery of the Creed. After the Baptism the candidate publicly recited the Creed, and this was called the ‘Redditio Symboli,’ and for a long period Baptism was the only public service of the Church at which the Creed was used.
1E.g. S. Aug., Serm. 212–215. Migne, P. L. xxxviii. col. 1058–1076.
IV. With this introduction we can take up the first task we have set before us, that of tracing ‘R’ to its earliest known source. We have seen that we have ‘R’ in the year 341 in the letter of Marcellus to Pope Julius. We can at once go back a century and find in various writers traces of it sufficient to convince us that it was in use at that time. We cannot expect to find the Symbol itself for the reason we have already set forth, that it was never reduced to writing, but we do find in various theological works phrases constantly recurring which evidently formed part of the Creed.
For instance, about the year 260 we have a work by Novatian entitled De Trinitate, founded upon the teaching of Tertullian, whose phrase, ‘Regula veritatis’, Novatian uses with obvious reference to the Symbol. While Novatian’s Creed, which as we know had been transmitted orally, does not correspond with ‘R’ in its exact words, yet it does so very strikingly in substance, as may be seen by a reference to it.1
1Cf. Creed of Novatian, Appendix A.
Novatian was a priest of the Church of Rome who had obtained schismatical consecration in opposition to Pope Cornelius.
About the same time (perhaps a year earlier) we find some fragments of the epistles and writings of Bishop Dionysius of Rome, contained in a work of S. Athanasius,1 in which there is a very clear reference to the three principal Articles of the Symbol, each clause corresponding precisely both in words and in their order with the Greek Creed of Marcellus, excepting that the word ‘Father’, which is omitted by Marcellus, is inserted in its right place.
1S. Athan., De decretis Nicaenae synodi, c. 26. Migne, P. G. xxv. col. 466. Cf. Appendix A.
Earlier still, in the letters of S. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (c. 255), we find two distinct references to a Baptismal Creed: ‘Dost thou believe in the Remission of Sins and Life Eternal through the Holy Church?’ (Ep. 69); and ‘Dost thou believe in the Life Eternal and the Remission of Sins through the Holy Church? ‘(Ep. 70).1
1Cf. Creed of S. Cyprian, Appendix A.
We may sum up this section by quotations from Dr. Harnack and Dr. Zahn. The former says, ‘That the shorter Roman Symbol, (as represented in the Epistle of Marcellus and in the Psalterium Aethelstani), which was, as early as about the year 250, the predominant one in Rome, must be regarded as one of the most positive results of historical investigation.’1
1Harnack, The Apostles’ Creed, p. 22 (Eng. Trans.).
Dr. Zahn writes: ‘Nearly all the Articles of the Creed, as it was repeated in Rome from 250–450, may be found in Tremens and Tertullian.’1
1Zahn, The Apostles’ Creed, p. 45 (Eng. Trans.).
V. We have seen that, in the opinion of Dr. Harnack, it is one of the most positive results of historical investigation that ‘R’ was in existence and predominant in Rome about the year 250. It now remains for us to inquire how much earlier than this we can find traces of ‘R’. Rufinus (c. 400) calls our attention to the fact that, while additions had been made to the Creed in other Churches in order to meet certain heresies which had arisen in those Churches, the Roman Creed had never been altered; since the Church in Rome had remained free from heresy, and, besides this, had kept up the ancient custom that candidates for Baptism should repeat the Creed publicly, so that no additions had been permitted.
The accuracy of the statement of Rufinus concerning both the fixed character of ‘R’ and the fact that no additions to it had been permitted can be proved from independent evidence, but the reason which he gives, that the Church in Rome had remained free from heresy, while doubtless true for a century or more before his day, is the very opposite to the truth when we go back before the year 250. For in the century from 130–230 Rome was the centre of all the attacks made on the Christian Faith under the guise of a truer Christianity. First Valentinus, then Marcion, then the so-called Monarchianists, Theodotus and Praxeas, made Rome the centre of their activity, and Patripassian and Gnostic heresies everywhere abounded in Rome.
Now if it be true, as Rufinus states, that ‘R’ had received no additions to meet heresies, it must have been because ‘R’ had been compiled and fixed in its Articles before these heresies arose; for had it been drawn up at any period in the century after Valentinus and Marcion came to Rome, it would certainly have been coloured by their heresies, that is, clauses would have been inserted to meet and refute these heresies. The extreme simplicity of ‘R’ and its entire freedom from any such theological bias makes it, however, practically certain that it had reached its fixed form before Valentinus and Marcion began their teaching in Rome.
According to the express statement of Irenaeus,1 Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Pope Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained there till Anicetus. According to this his stay at Rome must have been between the years 138–160. From references to Valentinus in Clement of Alexandria,2 and Tertullian,3 this date is practically confirmed.
1Iren. III. iv. 3. Migne, P. G. viii. col. 856, 857.
2Clem. Alex., Strom. VII. xvii. Migne, P. G. ix. col. 550.
3Tert., De Praescr. Haer. 30. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 42.
Marcion, who was the son of a Bishop of Pontus, perhaps the Bishop of Sinope, having been excommunicated by his father, came to Rome. The fact of his excommunication shows that he must have been a baptized Christian. He separated from the Roman Church about the year 145, but during the negotiations with the Roman clergy which preceded his separation he must, on account of his excommunication, have made a declaration of his Faith, and, like Marcellus two hundred years later, that declaration would probably have taken the form of the Symbol of the Roman Church. To this declaration Tertullian constantly refers, and as Tertullian bears witness to the existence of ‘R’, there can be little doubt that he assumes that Marcion accepted ‘R’ as representing his belief.
We are of course unable to prove precisely what Articles were contained in ‘R’ at that time, but in Marcion’s adaptation of Gal. 4:24–26, for his own peculiar New Testament, we find the words: ‘which [covenant] is the, mother of us all, which begets us in the holy church which we have acknowledged.’ The last word (repromittere, επαγγέλλεσθαι) is frequently used for the Baptismal Confession, and the phrase ‘the holy church’ seems therefore to have been in ‘R’ at this date, as we know it was later. But this Article, ‘The holy church,’ was probably one of the later additions to the Creed; and if it was in the Creed in Marcion’s time, the inference is that the Creed itself in its original form must have been considerably older.
From this and other evidence Harnack would trace ‘R’ in its earliest form to about the year 140, though he admits it may have been earlier. Kattenbusch and others, with whom Burn agrees, would place it about the year 100, while Zahn apparently considers it to be some years earlier still. He says: All these things make it appear not improbable that the recension of the baptismal Creed, to which all the later forms refer as to a common root, must have proceeded from the Capital of the Empire in the interval between the years 90–120.1 Here Zahn is speaking only of the ‘recension’, but a few pages further on he says: ‘Out of the baptismal formula grew a baptismal confession which had already assumed a more or less stereotyped form in early Apostolic times. At a somewhat later period, somewhere between 70–120, the original formula, which reminds us of the Jewish origin of Christianity, was reconstructed.’2
1Zahn, The Apostles’ Creed, p. 93.
2Zahn, The Apostles’ Creed, p. 97.
VI. We have thus far assumed from the simple character of ‘R’ that it was compiled before the arrival of Valentinus and Marcion at Rome, and so at one step have thrown back its date one hundred years. We are not, however, left without corroborative evidence of the accuracy of our assumption in the works of Christian writers during this period. The two most important are Tertullian and Irenaeus.
(i) In the writings of Tertullian we find many references to the Creed, more than we can here take note of.1 Tertullian bears witness to the agreement of the African Church with the Church of Rome in matters of Faith. He calls the Creed of the African Church a ‘Watchword’ (Tessera). He shows that it agrees with that of Rome, from which he quotes the words Christ Jesus’ in the order found in Marcellus. He regards the Creed as a summary of Apostolic teaching, and frequently speaks of it as the ‘Rule of Faith,’ and also calls it a ‘Sacrament’ or Oath of Allegiance as connected with Baptism.2
1Cf. Creeds of Tertullian, Appendix A.
2‘Uocati sumus ad militiam Dei uiui iam tunc, cum in sacramenti uerba respondimus.’ – Ad Martyres, 3. Migne, P. L. i. col. 624.
Tertullian was born at Carthage and converted to Christianity about the year 192, and became a priest of the Church. He lapsed into the Montanist heresy about 203, and died somewhere between 220–240, the later date being the more probable. Although many of his treatises were written after his lapse into Montanism, they are of great value as a witness to the fact that the Creed of the African Church agreed with that of Rome, and as containing many allusions to it. So that Dr. Zahn considers that nearly all the Articles of ‘R’ can be found in the writings of Tertullian.
(ii) Irenaeus was a native of Asia Minor, and in early youth had seen and heard Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna. He afterwards went into Gaul, and during the persecution in 177 carried, as presbyter of Lyons, a letter from the Gallican confessors to the Roman Bishop Eleutherus. After the death of Bishop Pothinus of Lyons he became his successor. He was still exercising his Episcopal office at the time of Bishop Victor of Rome, and S. Jerome speaks of him as having flourished in the reign of the Emperor Commodus, 180–192. His death is generally assigned to the year 202 or 203. His chief work was five books against Gnosticism, probably written between the years 180–185.
Irenaeus is by far the most important of the witnesses to the Creed in the second century, and has this peculiarity, that he himself serves as a link to connect the Creeds of the East and West together. He had himself been brought up as a Christian in Smyrna, and so would doubtless have been familiar with the Baptismal Symbol of that Church, if it had one at so early a date (which Harnack and Kattenbusch doubt). On the other hand there is some reason for thinking that he was at Rome before his missionary work in Gaul, perhaps about the year 156, and he certainly was there in 177; and in the dispute about keeping Easter we find him taking the Roman side of the question as against the Eastern.
There are three passages in his work against Gnosticism which seem to contain notices of the Creed.1 In the first of these he speaks of the ‘Rule of Truth’ (Κανων της αληθείας) which the orthodox Christian had received at Baptism and still kept whole and undefiled. The summary of Christian doctrine which he then proceeds to deliver is obviously meant to be that Rule. In substance it was, as he expressly asserts, the one Faith which was professed throughout the whole Church, in form probably shaped according to the type which prevailed in the Church in Gaul. None of the three passages, however, can be considered as containing the precise and complete form; but portions of the actual Creed, and expressed probably in its very words, seem to be incorporated into his text.
1Cf. Creeds of S. Irenaeus, Appendix A.
A reference to these three Creed-forms convinces one that ‘R’, or something very like ‘R’, was known in Gaul in the time of Irenaeus. We say ‘something very like “R”’, since there are some four or five of the characteristic peculiarities of later Eastern Creeds, which would lead us to suppose either that he had introduced them into Gaul from his own Baptismal Creed, or that they had been introduced into Gaul from the East before he became Bishop. There is one clause, however, which exhibits a striking connection with ‘R’: the order of words in the second Article, ‘Christ Jesus’ instead of the Eastern ‘Jesus Christ.’
(iii) Justin Martyr, a native of Palestine, probably baptized at Ephesus about the year 130, who taught both in Ephesus and Rome, and suffered martyrdom (c. 165), was the author of two Apologies and a work entitled A Dialogue with Tryphon the Jew. An examination of these works leads Kattenbusch to the conclusion that Justin was acquainted with ‘R’,1 and that he taught in Rome. This is quite possible and even probable, and there are some interesting coincidences of language.
1Kattenbusch, ii. p. 289, n.
Zahn lays great stress on the fact that S. Justin says three or four times that the Christians in Rome and the whole world have healed and still heal many people possessed with evil spirits with the adjuration, ‘By the name of Jesus Christ, the Crucified under Pontius Pilate.’1
1Apol. ii. 6. Migne, P. G. vi. col. 453. Cf. also Dial. 76 et 85. Migne, P. G. col. 653 et 676.
Zahn adds that ‘Unless we are willing to adopt the inconceivable view that the sentence which we are considering in all the Baptismal Creeds of Tertullian and S. Irenaeus was derived from the anathema of S. Justin’s time, then we must allow on the other hand that the anathema was derived from the Baptismal Confession in use in the time of S. Justin.’ He adds: ‘This application of a sentence of the Baptismal Confession in the so-called exorcisms, and indeed the regular application of it, “in the whole world and in Rome,” presupposes that the Baptismal Confession, of which the sentence in question forms a constituent part, must have been everywhere for a long time, and therefore must have originated long before the middle of the second century.’1 Other writers, however, fail to recognise in Justin Martyr any direct evidence of a Creed.
1Zahn, The Apostles’ Creed, pp. 75–73.
(iv) There are some passages in S. Ignatius of great interest which Zahn considers bear considerable resemblance to the free representations of the Baptismal Creed in S. Irenus and Tertullian.1
1Zahn, pp. 87–91.
Here we may bring to a close the first part of our task, the tracing of ‘R’ from its fuller expression in the Epistle of Marcellus back to its earliest source. This we find to have been somewhere about the year 100.
At this point we may ask in what language was ‘R’ originally written? There is a practical consensus of opinion that it was written in Greek, and that the early Church in Rome used Greek in her Liturgies.
Some of the Latin MSS.1 in using participles, e.g. ‘natum’, ‘crucifixum’, ‘resuscitatum’, ‘receptum’, ‘sedentem’, ‘venturum’, instead of the relative construction ‘qui natus est ... crucifixus,’ etc., are evidently literal renderings from a Greek text. We shall leave to a future chapter to discuss the important question whether ‘R’ was, as Kattenbusch supposes, the work of an individual (that is, composed by some prominent member of the Roman Church, either bishop or prophet), or whether it was itself the offspring of a still earlier original Creed which was the parent of two children, ‘R’ in the West, and a similar though not identical sister-Creed in the East.
1E.g. Tert., De uirg. uel. c. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 889.
Chapter III – The Growth of the Apostles’ Creed
Starting from ‘R’ as contained in the Epistle of Marcellus, we have traced back the Creed as far as we are able, and have found unmistakable indications of its existence about the year 100. But ‘R’, while complete in itself and containing all the twelve Articles of the Creed, falls short of the Apostles’ Creed as it now stands in our service-books; and in the present chapter we must trace the growth of ‘R’ until it reaches its full development in ‘T’; that is, we have to trace the growth of the Creed from the form found in the Epistle of Marcellus to the complete form which, as we have observed, appears first in the writings of Pirminius.
In this period, which extends from the middle of the fourth century to the middle of the eighth, our material is most abundant, for when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire the need for secrecy passed away, and the ‘disciplina arcani’ was gradually relaxed; only gradually, since we find it enforced both by S. Ambrose and S. Augustine.
With its passing, however, manuscripts containing the Creed in full were multiplied. Of which four types can be readily distinguished, viz. the Italian, the African, the Gallican (which includes the Irish), and the Spanish, the last two being so closely allied as to be counted as one by Kattenbusch.1
1Kattenbusch, i. pp. 189 and 194.
If indeed we take the whole period which we have to review, the number of Creed-forms found in different writers and representing the Creeds of various localities are so numerous that it is quite beyond the scope of this volume to examine them at all in detail. We must therefore refer the reader to some of the more important types given in the Appendix, and for further study send him to the works of Caspari and Hahn.1
1The English reader will find a very satisfactory though brief discussion of the history and value of these various Creeds in the Rev. A. E. Burn’s work, An Introduction to the Creeds (Methuen).
We shall therefore confine ourselves (1) to noting the principal points of difference between the Western and Eastern types of the Creed, (2) and then we shall briefly trace the history of the various Articles which go to make up the Apostles’ Creed as we now have it.
I. In the first half of the fourth century, while neither the Western nor the Eastern Creeds had attained their complete form, yet both had reached that fixity of type which they have ever retained; so that, taking ‘R’ as the representative Western Creed, and for the type of the Eastern, the Creed of Nicaea, and the Creed of Jerusalem as reconstructed from the catechetical lectures of S. Cyril, and using ‘R’ as the basis of our comparison, that is, disregarding the additions found in the Eastern Creeds, we notice that the chief points of difference are four:
(i) The use of the plural form in the Eastern: ‘We believe’ (πιστεύομεν) instead of I believe’ (πιστεύω), as found in ‘R’.
(ii) In the first and second Articles the insertion in the Eastern Creeds of ‘one’ (ένα) before ‘God’ and ‘Lord Jesus Christ.’ Zahn, however, as we shall see, thinks that ‘one’ was present in the very earliest form of ‘R’, at least in the first Article.
(iii) In the first article the clause ‘Maker of heaven and earth’ (ποιητην ουρανου και γης in the Creed of Jerusalem in S. Cyril’s exposition), which afterwards was introduced into the Apostles’ Creed, but which is wanting in ‘R’; and
(iv) In the twelfth Article the clause ‘Life Everlasting’ (Ζωην αιώνιον, Marcellus; και εις ζωην αιώνιον, Jerusalem, S. Cyril) or its equivalent, ‘Life of the world to come’ (Ζωην του μέλλοντος αιωνος, Niceno-Constantinopolitan), which, while found in the Creed of Marcellus, seems to have been added by a copyist, since it is absent from ‘R’ as given us by Rufinus and in other early forms of ‘R’, though it is found in the African Creed of S. Cyprian.
Our purpose in drawing attention to these four points of difference between the Eastern and the Western Creeds is that we may recognise an ultimate Eastern source for the two last, which found their way into the Apostles’ Creed.
II. The History of the Various Articles which make up the full Apostles’ Creed.
A comparison of ‘R’, as found in the Epistle of Marcellus, with ‘T’, as it appears first in the writings of Pirminius, shows that in the latter the following words and clauses have been inserted:
(i) In Article I the word ‘Father’ and the clause ‘Maker of heaven and earth.’
(ii) In Article III the word ‘conceived.’
(iii) In Article IV the words ‘suffered’ and ‘dead.’
(iv) In Article VII the words ‘God’ and ‘Almighty’ in the clause ‘on the right hand of [God] the Father [Almighty].’
(v) In Article IX the word ‘Catholic’ before ‘Church,’ and the clause ‘the Communion of Saints.’
(vi) And in Article XII the clause ‘and the Life Everlasting.’
While our task will be specially to point out the earliest appearance of these clauses in the Creeds of various Churches and individual writers which are later than the time of Marcellus, we shall also, in passing, briefly indicate the earliest known writers in which the other clauses of ‘R’ may first be recognised.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
Credo in Deum Patrem Omnipotentem, Creatorem Coeli et Terrae.
i. The first clause, ‘ I believe in God the Father Almighty,’ is common to all Creeds from the very earliest days, but there are two interesting questions connected with it which we may briefly notice in this place.
1. As we have pointed out, the Eastern Creeds are characterised by an explicit assertion of the unity of the Godhead. They all begin, ‘We believe in one God.’ And Zahn is of opinion that the word ‘unum’ was originally in ‘R’, and was removed in the very early years of the third century on account of the Monarchianists, who so greatly troubled the Church in Rome. His principal argument for this is, that these heretics accused the Roman Church under Pope Zephyrinus (119–217) of having recoined the truth like forgers.1 The accusation was made later than the time of Zephyrinus, but the facts which, in Zahn’s judgment, seem to have justified it are the traces which exist of ‘unum’ in the Creeds of the African and South Gallican Churches.
1Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. V. xxviii. Migne, P. G. xx. col. 512.
It is certain that the African Church received her Creed direct from Rome, and there are indications that in the time of Tertullian its first Article read, ‘Credo in unum Deum.’1
1E.g. We find in Tertullian, ‘Credendi scilicet in unicum deum omnipotentem, mundi conditorem.’ – De Uirg. Uel. I. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 889.
‘Regula est autem fidei ... qua creditur unum omnino deum esse.’ – De Praescr. 13. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 25.
‘Unum deum nouit, creatorem uniuersitatis.’ – De Praescr. 36. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 49.
‘Unicum quidem deum credimus, sub hac tamen dispensatione ... ut unici dei sit et filius sermo ipsius.’ – Adv. Prax. 2. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 156.
‘Unicum dominum uindicat, omnipotentem mundi conditorem.’ – Adv. Prax. 3. Migne, P. L. ii. 154.
The Church in Southern Gaul, on the other hand, may be considered as originally a spiritual colony of the Churches of Ephesus and Smyrna. They, therefore, probably received their baptismal confession, not from Rome, but from Asia Minor; and this accounts for the fact that in the Creed-forms found in the writings of S. Irenaeus we recognise the peculiar characteristics of Eastern Creeds.
The Churches of Lyons and Vienne, however, kept up a constant ecclesiastical intercourse with Rome and fostered this connection; and, though S. Irenaeus has characteristic Eastern features in his Creed, there are also some Western, such as the occurrence in three well-attested places of the order ‘Christ Jesus’ for ‘Jesus Christ’. But in S. Irenaeus we invariably find the phrase ‘One God the Father Almighty.’ We find, too, in the work of S. Hippolytus against Noetus that the presbyters of Smyrna, in setting forth their Creed, also use the expression ‘One God.’1
1Και ημεις ένα θεον οίδαμεν αληθως· οίδαμεν τον Υιον παθόντα, καθως έπαθεν, αποθανόντα καθως απέθανεν, και αναστάντα τη Τρίτη ημέρα, και όντα εν δεξια του Πατρος, και ερχόμενον κριναι ζωντας και νεκρούς· και ταυτα λέγομεν α εμάθομεν. – S. Hippol., Contra Noet. i; ed. Routh, Scrip. Eccl. p. 50; cf. ibid. p. 75. Migne, P. G. x. col. 804, 805.
Further, the agreement of the two Churches of Lyons and Carthage in regard to the use of ‘unum’ in the first Article of the Creed can be traced later in the Creed of Bishop Dionysius of Rome, which dates from about the year 259.1
1See Appendix A.
Zahn’s argument may therefore be summed up thus: We have no direct testimony in regard to the precise wording of the first Article of ‘R’ earlier than the time of Marcellus. In the Creed of S. Cyprian (248–258) ‘unum’ does not appear in the first Article. In the Creeds of Tertullian and of S. Irenaeus (180–210), i.e. of the Churches of Africa and of Gaul, ‘unum’ is found in this Article. It is also implied in the later Creed of Dionysius as quoted by S. Athanasius. Hence Zahn contends that we must either believe that it was in the original Roman Creed and was removed on account of the troubles at Rome with the Monarchianists, or we must believe, what he considers to be incredible, that the African Church, which had received the Creed from Rome, and in the first period of her existence had confessed with the Roman Church ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty’ only, had later in Tertullian’s time, with the Churches of Lyons and Smyrna, changed this into ‘I believe in one God the Father Almighty,’ and that, finally, before S. Cyprian’s time and for ever after, she had returned to the first form. We give Zahn’s argument (which is accepted by Mr. Burn) on account of its intrinsic interest, although it has by no means found favour with the majority of theologians.
2. Zahn further questions whether the name the ‘Father’ was in the first Article of the earliest form of the Creed, or, indeed, before the year 210. As we have observed, it is omitted by Marcellus, though this may have been through the carelessness of the scribe. But Zahn points out between the years 180–210 certain passages which seem to refer to the Creed: eleven in Irenaeus,1 four in Tertullian,2 and the passage already quoted from Hippolytus in regard to the Church in Smyrna.3 Of these he shows that only two (the two first quoted below from Irenaeus) contained the name the ‘Father’, and he argues that if πατέρα between the words θεον παντοκράτορα was in the Creeds of Irenaeus and Tertullian, its omission is inexplicable, since it would have been invaluable in their arguments against the Patripassians, and indeed he thinks that it was on this account that it was inserted.
1S. Iren., θεον πατέρα παντοκράτορα, I. iii. 6; I. x. 1; I. ix. 2; I. xvi. 3; I. xxii. 1; III. iii. 3; III. xi. 1; IV. xxxiii. 7; in unum deum, III. iv. 2; Solus et uerus deus, III. vi. 4; unum et uerum deum, IV. i. 1. Migne, P. G. vii., passim.
2Tert., Uirg. Uel. 1; De Praescr. 13; ibid. 36; Ad Prax. 2; ibid. 3. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 889, 25, 49, 156, 158.
3S. Hippol., Contra Noet. I; ed. Routh, Scrip. Eccl. p. 50; cf. ibid. p. 75; cf. p. 35.
His strongest point is that ‘God Almighty’ (Θεος παντοκράτωρ) is a Biblical expression, found also in the First Epistle of S. Clement to the Corinthians, in Hermas, S. Polycarp, and S. Justin Martyr. On the other hand his argument is much weakened by the fact that in Article vii., ‘and sitteth on the right hand of [God] the Father [Almighty],’ the name ‘Father’ could be used against the Patripassians just as well as if it were in Article I.
3. The Creed of Aquileia in the time of Rufinus, who was baptized in 370, contained ‘invisibilem et impassibilem’ as well as ‘omnipotentem.’ Rufinus tells us it was introduced against the Patripassian heresy. These words, however, did not long retain their place in the Aquileian Creed.
ii. ‘Creator of heaven and earth.’
‘Creatorem coeli et terra.’
This clause, which is a characteristic feature of Eastern Creeds, did not find its way into the Apostles’ Creed till about the close of the seventh century, although its equivalent appears sporadically in the Creeds of Tertullian1 and of Irenaeus.2 It does not, however, occur again in any Western Creed till c. 700,3 when it seems to have been adopted from the so-called Constantinopolitan Creed, although we find writers on the Creed treating the word ‘Omnipotentem’ as implying the creation of the world.4
1Tert. Mundi conditorem De Uirg. Uel. I, and De Praescr. xiii.; Creatorem uniuersitatis De Praescr. 36. Migne, P. L. ii. col. 889, 25, 49.
2S. Iren., Contra Haeres. I. x. 1: τον πεποιηκότα τον ουρανον, και την γην, και τας θαλάσσας και πάντα τα εν αυτοις. Migne, P. G. vii. col. 550.
3Mr. Burn includes these words in his reconstruction of the Creed of Nicetas of Remesiana, but neither Caspari, Hahn, or Kattenbusch recognise them as in it. Cf. Burn, An Introduction, etc., pp. 254, 255.
4E.g. ‘Non enim aliquid esse potest, cujus Creator non esset, cum esset omnipotens.’ – S. Aug., De Fide et Symbolo, ii. 2. Migne, P. L. xl. col. 182.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.
Et in Jesum Christum, Filium ejus; unicum Dominum nostrum.
With some slight verbal differences this Article is found in the earliest Creeds. In ‘R’ the order of the words is always ‘Christ Jesus’ (the Eastern Creeds having ‘Jesus Christ’).
In the Creed of Marcellus, and indeed in all Greek Creeds, the word ‘only’ (unicum) is rendered by ‘the only begotten’ (τον μονογενη). We shall remember, too, that the Baptismal Creed of the Church of England has ‘only-begotten.’ In Latin Creeds we sometimes find ‘unigenitum’1 instead of ‘unicum’. This is distinctly Johannine,2 and is a recognition that our Lord is the Son of God in a peculiar and unique manner.
1E.g. In the Creed of S. Cyprian, Bishop of Toulon (c. 594). Cf. Appendix A.
2Cf. S. John 1:14–18; 3:16–18; 1 S. John 4:1–9.
Some few unimportant Creeds add ‘Deum’1 to ‘Dominum’.
1E.g. The Creed of Etherius Uxamensis, Bishop of Osma, and of Beatus (785); the Creed in the Sac. Gallicanum (Codex Bobiensis); and that of Novatian (c. 260). Cf. Appendix A.
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.
Qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria Virgine.
This form of the Article, i.e. with the word ‘conceived’, is first found in a sermon attributed to S. Augustine (Sermon 213), and then in the Creed of Faustus of Riez. Even as late as the time of Etherius (785) we find it missing from his Creed. The older form is ‘born of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary’ (‘natus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine’). We also find ‘natus est per Spiritum Sanctum ex Maria Virgine.’1
1S. Aug., De Fide et Symbolo, iv. 8; Migne, P. L. xl. col. 186; one of the Creeds of the Sac. Gallicanum (Cod. Bob.) has ‘natum de Maria Uirgine per Spiritum Sanctum’.
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.
Passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus et sepultus.
‘Suffered’ and dead’ are wanting in the earlier Creeds, the oldest form being ‘crucified’ and ‘buried’, but always with the clause ‘under Pontius Pilate’. ‘Passus’ we find in the Creed-forms of S. Irenaeus.1 And in Tertullian in one Creed we meet with ‘suffered’, ‘dead and buried’, but without the word ‘crucified’; in another Creed we find only ‘crucified under Pontius Pilate’; in the third, simply ‘crucified’.2
1S. Iren., και το πάθος, Contra Haer. I. x. 1; et passus sub Pontio Pilato, ibid. III. iv. 2. Migne, P. G. vii. col. 550 et 856.
2Tert., Adu. Prax. 2; De Uirg. Uel.; De Praescr. 13. Cf. Appendix A.
In the Spanish Creed of Priscillian (ob. 385),1 and in the Creed of Nicetas of Remesiana2 (c. 400), we find both ‘suffered’ and ‘buried.’ The so-called Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed has ‘crucified’, ‘suffered’, and ‘buried’, but not ‘dead’. The original Nicene Creed summed up all in the one word ‘suffered’ (παθόντα).
1Cf. Creed Priscillian, Appendix A.
2Cf. Creed of Nicetas of Remesiana, Appendix A.
He descended into hell, and the third day He rose again from the dead.
Descendit ad inferna (inferos); tertia die resurrexit a mortuis.
i. The clause ‘He descended into hell’ occurs first in the Creed of Aquileia, and Rufinus, in commenting on it, expressly states that it is not found in ‘R’ nor in any Eastern Creed. He speaks with some uncertainty in regard to it, but suggests that the thought seems to be contained in the word ‘buried.’ From this we may infer that he knows nothing of the circumstances of its first appearance in the Creed of Aquileia, and that it had been in that Creed for a sufficiently long period for those circumstances to have been forgotten in his day.
It does not appear to have been indigenous in the Church of the Province of Arles, where so many elements of the Creed can be traced back furthest. It is not found in the Creed of Faustus of Riez,* nor of S. Cyprian of Toulon,* but it is found in the Creed of S. Caesarius* of Arles, and in the Creed of Venantius Fortunatus* (c. 570) (‘ad infernum’). It is also found in the Greek Creeds of three Arian Synods of the fourth century: Sirmium (359), Niké (359), and Constantinople (360). The first of these was drawn up by Mark of Arethusa.
*Cf. Appendix A.
This clause may possibly have been added in early times as a protest against Docetic denials of our Lord’s true death; and it is certainly Scriptural, since it is evidently taken from the old Latin and Vulgate renderings of Ps. 55(54):16,1 and Ps. 16(15):10,2 quoted by S. Peter: ‘Because thou didst not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption’.3
1‘Descendant in infernum.’
2‘Quoniam non derelinques animam meam in inferno.’
We find it in the Athanasian Creed under the slightly varied form (which now prevails in the Apostles’ Creed) – ‘descendit ad inferos.’
ii. The third day He rose again from the dead. This clause is of universal occurrence, and with very slight verbal variations. The words ‘vivus a mortuis’ are found in the Creeds of Martin of Bracara,1 and in Spanish Creeds (S. Ildefonsus,2 Etherius and Beatus,3 Mozarabic liturgy,4 etc.). ‘Reviviscens ex mortuis’ is the rendering of the clause in the Syriac Testamentum.5
1–4Cf. Appendix A.
5Kattenbusch, ii. 968.
He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
Ascendit ad coelos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris Omnipotentis.
The first clause is found in all Creeds, with only the slight verbal variations of ‘in’ for ‘ad’ and ‘coelum’ for ‘coelos; and in a few Creeds the words ‘ascendit Victor’.1 The latter clause was, however, originally ‘sedet ad dexteram Patris,’ the words ‘Dei’ and ‘Omnipotentis’ having been added later. They seem to appear first in the Spanish Creed of Priscillian2 (ob. 385), then in the Gallican Creeds of Victricius,3 Bishop of Rouen (409), and of Faustus of Riez (460).4
1E.g. Miss. Gallic., Appendix A.
2Cf. Creed of Priscillian, Appendix A.
3Cf. Creed of Victricius, Appendix A.
4Cf. Creed of Faustus, Appendix A. This is the date assigned to Faustus by Harnack, The Apostles’ Creed (Eng. Trans.), p. 7, though other writers place it somewhat later.
From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Inde venturus est, judicare vivos et mortuos.
This Article is met with in all Creeds with but slight verbal variations. Older Creeds (e.g. ‘R’) have ‘whence’ (unde, όθεν), but ‘thence’ (inde) is found in Priscillian and Rufinus.
I believe in the Holy Ghost.
Credo in Spiritum Sanctum.
This Article forms a part of all Creeds except those which are obviously incomplete, the only variation being the use of the ablative instead of the accusative in some Latin Creeds, i.e. ‘in Spiritu Sancto’ instead of ‘in Spiritum Sanctum’. Commentators point out that this is for the purpose of marking the difference between faith in a person of the Godhead and faith in the Church, the Communion of Saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
The words ‘I believe’, which are repeated from Article I, are also frequently wanting.1
1E.g. in the Creeds of Aquileia, of Venantius Fortunatus, of the Codex Laudianus, and in the second Creed of the Miss. Gallic., but they are found in the Creeds of Caesarius of Arles and of Faustus of Riez. Cf. Appendix A.
The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints.
Sanctam ecclesiam catholicam, Sanctorum communionem.
I. The clause ‘Holy Church’ occurs first in the Carthaginian Creed as found in S. Cyprian, but it is implied in the writings of Tertullian,1 though it does not find a place in any of his three Creed-forms, and in S. Cyprian the Article is found in a different position.2
1‘Cum sub tribus et testatio fidei et sponsio salutis pignerentur, necessario adjicitur Ecclesiae mentio; quoniam ubi tres, id est Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus, ibi Ecclesia, quae trium corpus est.’ – Tert., De Baptismo, vi. Migne, P. L. i. col. 1206.
2‘Credis remissionem peccatorum, et vitam aeternam per Sanctam Ecclesiam’, S. Cyp., Ep. lxxvi. 7, Ad Magn.; Migne, P. L. iii. col. 1144; and ‘Credis in vitam aeternam, et remissionem peccatorum, per Sanctam Ecclesiam,’ Ep. 70, ed. Oxon. Ad Episcop. Numid. Migne, P. L. iii. col. 1040.
The word ‘Catholic’ in this Article is of later date. It is found in the Acts of the Martyrdom of S. Calixtus, Pope, and his companions, in the interrogative Creed used at the baptism of Palmatius,1 the date of which is uncertain, though Heurtley gives it as c. 220; otherwise it seems to appear first in the Explanatio Symboli2 of S. Ambrose (ob. 397), then in the Creed of Nicetas (c. 400), then in one of the six expositions of the Creed by S. Peter Chrysologus, Archbishop of Ravenna (ob. 450). However, as it occurs in none of his other five Creeds, and there is no reference to it in the Commentary upon the one in which it does occur, it is somewhat doubtful whether it really belongs to the text. It is found in one of the Aquileian Creeds of uncertain date, and in that of Faustus of Riez,3 then in the Mozarabic liturgy; but it is absent from some of the pre-Reformation Creeds in England.4
1Surius, Vit. Sanct. tome x. p. 385. The authenticity of these Acts is more than doubtful.
2–3Cf. Appendix A.
4Two MSS. in the British Museum, Nero A. xiv., and Cleop. B. vi.; also in the Bodleian Douce MS. 246.
It is found, however, almost universally in Eastern Creeds (it is in S. Cyril’s Exposition of the Creed of Jerusalem), and was probably adopted into the Apostles’ Creed from this source.
II. ‘The Communion of Saints.’
This clause was the latest addition to the Creed and is exclusively Western, being found in no Eastern Creed. The words are first met with in the Explanatio of Nicetas in the following passage: ‘What is the Church but the congregation of all Saints? ... Believe then that in this one Church you will attain the Communion of Saints’.1
1‘Ergo in hac una Ecclesia crede te communionem consecuturum esse Sanctorum.’ Cf. Caspari, Anecdota, i. p. 355 et sqq.
It is then found in the Creed of Faustus of Riez.1 The words are, however, unknown to S. Augustine, for he writes in his Enchiridion, ‘After the mention of “Holy Church” the “remission of sins” is placed in the order of the Confession.’2
1Cf. Appendix A.
2S. Aug., Enchir. 64.
One of the most interesting questions in regard to the Creed is connected with this clause ‘the Communion of Saints.’ Where did it really originate, and with what purpose was it introduced into the Creed?
Harnack in his pamphlet Das apostolische Glaubensbekenntniss, published in 1892, connects it with the controversy in regard to the cultus of the saints. He starts with the fact that the clause seems to appear first in Southern Gaul and Spain, the two countries infected with the heresy of Vigilantius.
Vigilantius was a monk in S. Jerome’s Monastery at Bethlehem, but, having left it, he made his way to France, and there preached against the veneration of the relics of the saints, on the ground that the Saints in glory do not pray for the living. S. Jerome combated this doctrine very earnestly in his treatise Contra Vigilantium. Now, it was in Southern Gaul and Spain that Vigilantius was most active in teaching his erroneous doctrine that the Saints in glory do not pray for the living, and Harnack thinks it probable that the words ‘Communion of Saints’ were introduced into the Creed on this account.
In his later work, the Article on the Creed in the third edition of the Real-Encyclopädie, he discusses the various theories in regard to it, and suggests its connection through Nicetas indirectly with S. Cyril of Jerusalem. The indirect influence of S. Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures, carried (through the Remesiana) into Pannonia and Aquileia, he considers may possibly have reached Gaul.
Peter Abelard, after offering other explanations, suggests that perhaps we may take the word ‘Sanctorum’ as neuter, and refer it to a Communion in the Eucharist;1 and a Norman French version of the Creed written at the end of the first quarter of the twelfth century renders the clause ‘la communiun des seintes choses.’2 S. Ivo of Chartres combines this interpretation with that which makes ‘Sanctorum’ masculine.3
1P. Abelard, Expos. in Symb. Ap., Migne, P. L., tom. 178, col. 629.
2Ms. R. 57 in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge.
3‘Id est, ecclesiasticorum sacramentorum ueritatem cui communicauerunt sancti.’ – Migne, P. L. clii. col. 606.
Zahn adopts Abelard’s view, taking Sanctorum ‘as neuter and referring it to participation in holy things offered in sacraments. The majority, however, reject this view, since if ‘Communio Sanctorum’ is equivalent to κοινωνία των αγίων, ‘Sanctorum’ must be taken as masculine.1
1Cf. Dr. Sanday in Journal of Theological Studies for October 1901.
The Remission of Sins.
This Article is found in all Creeds with very slight variations. ‘Omnium peccatorum’ occurs in a few Creeds,1 in a treatise ascribed to S. Augustine, De Symbolo, and in the interrogative Creed used at the baptism of Nemesius and his daughter, from the Acta of S. Stephen, Pope and Martyr.2 We also find in the Creed of the Bangor Antiphonary ‘abremissa’ or ‘abremisa’ for ‘remissionem’, and three MSS. of the De Spiritu Sancto of Faustus of Riez have ‘abremissa’.3
1E.g. the Creed of Etherius Uxamensis, 785. Cf. Appendix A.
2Baronius, Annal. 259.
3Cf. Appendix A.
The Resurrection of the body.
This Article appears first in the Creed of S. Irenaeus and in two of the Creeds of Tertullian, though not in this place; for in all three Creeds it is connected with our Lord’s second Advent, and therefore comes under Article VII rather than Article XI. It is found in its right place in Cyril’s Exposition of the Creed of Jerusalem, and indeed after the second century in every Creed which has come down to us in complete form.
We learn from Rufinus that in his day the Creed of Aquileia had added to ‘carnis’ the intensive pronoun ‘hujus’. We may observe, too, that in our translation ‘body’ has been substituted for ‘flesh’, though in the early English Creeds the more accurate translation, ‘the resurrection of the flesh,’ is always found. In the year 1543 this was altered to the resurrection of the body’ in the book entitled The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man, and thus it passed into our English Prayer Book version of the Apostles’ Creed, the older translation ‘resurrection of the flesh’ being retained in the interrogative Creed in the Baptismal Office, and in the Creed used in the Visitation of the Sick.
And the life everlasting.
This Article is found in both the fragments of S. Cyprian’s Creeds, but it is lacking in the Creed of Aquileia as given by Rufinus, and therefore by inference from ‘R’; since Rufinus makes no mention of it as present in ‘R’. It is, however, found in the Creed of Marcellus1 – possibly a reminiscence of his Eastern Creed; it is missing in the two later Aquileian Creeds, in the Creed of Maximus of Turin,2 of Venantius Fortunatus,3 of the Laudian manuscript,4 of King Athelstan’s Psalter,5 in the interrogative Creeds of the Gelasian and the Gregorian Sacramentaries, and apparently in S. Jerome’s Creed.
1Cf. Creed of Marcellus, Appendix A.
2–5Cf. Appendix A.
It is found, however, in the Creeds of Nicetas1 and of Caesarius2 of Arles, but it can hardly be said to have been established in Western Creeds until the middle of the seventh century. The clause is found in Eastern Creeds, e.g. in S. Cyril’s Exposition of the Creed of Jerusalem, in the words, και εις ζωην αιώνιον. The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, however, has και ζωην του μελλοντος αιωνος.
1–2Cf. Appendix A.
Chapter IV – Problems Suggested by the History of the Apostles’ Creed
We have reserved for this chapter several questions of interest in regard to the interpretation of the historical facts which have been set before us in the two previous chapters. A wide difference of opinion exists among scholars on many points, the same evidence being read very diversely, according to the point of view from which its study is approached. Thus there are several theories advanced to account for the historical facts which we have already briefly reviewed.
I. The questions of greatest importance, and indeed of fascinating interest, are – What relationship exists between Eastern and Western Creeds? and have they a common source? According as we take sides on these points will be our interpretation of many subservient details. Roughly speaking, we may divide recent writers into two schools:—
i. The first teaches that ‘R’ was the original and parent Creed, not only of all Western Symbols, but also of Eastern Creeds. This school does not recognise any distinctly Eastern Creed before the end of the third century, and considers the Creeds then found to have been developments of ‘R’, holding that ‘R’ was carried across to Antioch about the time of the settlement of the disputes there in regard to Paul of Samosata (c. 272). The principal champions of this view are Harnack and Kattenbusch, of whom the latter teaches that ‘R’ emanated from Rome itself and was the production of one individual author in the Roman Church, who apparently flourished about the close of the first and the beginning of the second century.
This author, Kattenbusch thinks, made use of phrases already existing in Scripture and the Eucharistic liturgy; but he believes that ‘R’ was more than a gradual crystallisation of current phrases, that from the first it was a definite creation and product of a single mind, and the expression of an individual conception, or ‘Summa’ of Christian teaching. Further, he holds it to have been the parent of all other Creeds.1
1Cf. Dr. Sanday’s article in the Journal of Theological Studies for October 1901.
Harnack, on the other hand, does not trace ‘R’ back earlier than c. 140, and does not insist upon a definite personal author. The two principal arguments on which these writers rely to support their theory that there were no distinctly Eastern Creeds until the end of the third century, and that these were developments of ‘R’, are the following:—
1. The absence of documentary evidence for the existence of Eastern Creeds before the close of the third century. This argument, however, is purely negative, and, as Dr. Sanday points out,1 where there is no literature there can be no literary evidence, and there is very little literature for the whole of Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine between the days of Melito of Sardis and Eusebius, and indeed, with the exception of Alexandria, for the whole Christian East. Hence a negative inference, where no literature exists, is not a very strong argument.
1In the Journal of Theological Studies for October 1899.
2. The second argument against the existence of a definite Creed-form in the East is derived from the two short Confessions of S. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop of Neocaesarea,1 and of Aphraates the Syrian.2 These are so entirely unlike any other Creed-forms, so unconventional in their phraseology, that the inference has been deduced that the writers could not have been acquainted with any Eastern Creed, and therefore that in their days no such Creed existed.
1–2Cf. Appendix A.
It is quite possible that a Syriac writer living, like Aphraates, beyond the Tigris, and scarcely touched by the influence of the Roman world, might have been unacquainted with an Eastern Creed which was known in the great Church centres, just as he seems unacquainted with the Catholic Epistles; but this does not prove that no such Creed existed.
The case of S. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Dr. Sanday would explain rather by the speculative habit of the Eastern mind and its comparative independence of authority. S. Gregory might state theological propositions in regard to the elements of the Faith in his own language, where a Western would simply quote the Creed of his Church. To illustrate this, Dr. Sanday points to this difference in the writings of Origen and Tertullian, and it must be remembered that in his youth S. Gregory had been a disciple of Origen.
We must, however, admit that the statements of faith in S. Gregory and Aphraates are arguments of a positive character, and as such deserve more consideration than the mere negative argument from the absence of evidence in an age which has bequeathed to us such a scanty Christian literature.
3. As against these arguments we should point to the very characteristic Creed-forms apparently brought from the East in the second century and found, for instance, in the Creed of S. Irenaeus and in that of the presbyters of Smyrna, quoted in S. Hippolytus. Harnack recognises the force of this argument, and admits that there did exist as far back as the beginning of the second century, in the East, a Christological μάθημα organically related to the second Article of the Roman Creed, which in its peculiar parts and formula lasted on until it passed into the Oriental Creed of the fourth century; also a formula in regard to the ‘One God, Creator of heaven and earth,’ and a formula which referred to the Holy Prophetic Spirit. But this admission seems to us practically a surrender of the position that the East had no creeds before the end of the third century.
ii. The second school, which seems to claim the greater number of adherents, among whom we may mention Caspari, Zahn, Loofs, Kunze, and, in England, Dr. Sanday and Mr. Burn, recognises in the East and West two distinct types of Creed, going back as far as it is possible to trace them, and springing from a root itself out of sight. This root Caspari would locate in the East rather than the West, and indeed he suggests that the Creed came to Rome, probably from Ephesus, on the boundary-line of the Apostolic or sub-Apostolic Age, substantially in the form which it has in the old Roman Creed, and that the Johannine Circle at Ephesus may well have been its birthplace.1
1Cf. Caspari, iii. p. 161.
Zahn, while agreeing in the main with this, would give a somewhat different account of the process. Kattenbusch would prefer as an alternative to Rome, not Ephesus, but Antioch. This choice Dr. Sanday seems to consider worthy of consideration, and observes that it would, seem to involve the further alternative that the most primitive form of Creed was rather of the Eastern type than of the Western, which is the conclusion that Caspari also appears to have reached.
II. Having reviewed the two theories as to the relationship existing between Eastern and Western Creeds, and the ultimate source of both, we shall dismiss further consideration of Eastern Creeds in this chapter and turn our attention to the development of ‘R’.
i. We have already remarked1 that Zahn recognises a recension of ‘R’ in the first quarter of the second century, at least so far as the removal of the word ‘One’ and the insertion of the word ‘Father’ in the first Article, and that this was occasioned by the activity of the Monarchianists and Patripassians in Rome at that date.
1See Article I above.
ii. A much more important development is that which we traced in the last chapter, the growth of ‘R’ (as found in the Epistle of Marcellus, c. 341) into ‘T’ (as set forth in the Creed of Pirminius, c. 750). In regard to this there are two views:—
1. The theory which is held by the great majority, that the development took place in the south of Gaul.
2. And the view held by a very few, that ‘R’ was developed into ‘T’ at Rome itself.
1. We have already noticed in the history of the different Articles of the Creed that a majority of the words and clauses in our Apostles’ Creed which are not found in ‘R’ seem to have made their appearance first in the Creeds of Southern Gaul and Spain. An investigation of the forces and conditions at work in Southern Gaul in the fifth and sixth centuries leads us to assign the development of the Creed to two causes: the influence of the celebrated Monastery of Lerins, and the close connection kept up with the East through Milan, Aquileia, and Pannonia.
(a) The school of Lerins plays so important a part, not only in the development of the Apostles’ Creed, but in the history of the Athanasian Symbol, that it will be well to give a short account of its foundation.
Lerins is one of several small, rocky islands off the southern coast of France, nearly opposite Cannes. In the year 410 S. Honoratus landed there and established one of the earliest religious foundations in France. He was a man not only of great force but of extraordinary personal charm, and gifted with unusual discernment of men. He gathered around him a large community, who seem to have been attached to him by ties of more than ordinary affection; and, though he was torn away from his family of monks to become Bishop of Arles in the year 426, yet in the brief period of sixteen years he drew to him men from all quarters of the globe, and had established on sure foundations one of the greatest monastic institutions of the world.
The great Abbey of Lerins, with various vicissitudes, flourished from its foundation in the early years of the fifth century until its suppression in 1788. It produced in the first century of its life S. Hilary of Arles, S. Vincent of Lerins, S. Salvian, S. Eucherius of Lyons, S. Lupus of Troyes, Faustus of Riez, and S. Caesarius of Arles. It supplied bishops to many Churches, among them Arles, Avignon, Lyons, Vienne, Troyes, Riez, Frejus, Valence, Metz, Nice.
And this points to its chief characteristic, that it was from the very first a seminary and training-school for great bishops and priests, and hence exercised extraordinary influence on the Churches around. Indeed, when Cassian a little more than a decade later founded his great Monastery of S. Victor near Marseilles, he deliberately made this its distinguishing feature, that it aimed at training for the religious life rather than for the priesthood; and in its earlier years he excluded rather than encouraged such studies as prevailed in the school of Lerins.
To Faustus of Riez and to S. Caesarius of Arles we have already traced some of the earliest appearances of the words and clauses of the Apostles’ Creed not found in ‘R’. Through them we may trace them back to the school of Lerins, in which they were both educated.
(b) But more than this, the Churches of Southern Gaul, and therefore Lerins, seem to have been always more or less in touch with the East.
(1) In the second century this is accounted for most fully by the influence of S. Ireraeus, who was himself brought up in the Church of Smyrna.
(2) Two centuries later there seems to have been a wave of Eastern influence through S. Nicetas of Remesiana, in whose Creed we find more than one addition which afterwards appears in the Creeds of Faustus and S. Caesarius: e.g. the word ‘Catholic’ and the clause ‘the Communion of Saints’ both appear first in S. Nicetas and then in Faustus, while ‘life everlasting’ is found in S. Nicetas and then in S. Caesarius.
Kattenbusch, however, would reverse this order, adopting a suggestion by Kirsch, that the distinctive features in the Creed of S. Nicetas are due rather to a back wave of influence from Gaul. Few, however, follow Kattenbusch in this theory.
2. While the very great majority of writers on the Creed agree in tracing, as we have done, most of the distinctive features in ‘T’ to the south of Gaul, and perhaps to the school of Lerins, Ludwig Hahn, in the third edition of the Bibliothek der Symbole, sets forth the hypothesis that ‘R’ was revised in Rome itself, and that its added clauses spread thence to Gaul. Mr. Burn also champions this theory.1 At present, however, this view has few supporters.
1Cf. Burn, An Introduction to the Creeds, p. 221–239.
iii. The additions to ‘R’ are practically all found in various Creeds by the middle of the sixth century, though they are not all found in any one Creed until the time of Pirminius in the middle of the eighth century; and even for some centuries after that date we still find Creeds with clauses omitted. These Creeds evidently trace their pedigree back to ancestors who branched off from the parent stock at an earlier period.
But the form found in Pirminius is the one which prevailed after the eighth century and passed into the service-books of the Church. This may probably be accounted for by the great effort for liturgical uniformity under the Frankish kings. The Roman Office was introduced into England by S. Benedict Biscop, into Rouen by S. Remigius, into Metz by S. Chrodegang; and then King Pepin, extending the reform which had been inaugurated at Metz and Rouen to all the Frankish Churches, commanded all the Frankish bishops to give up the Gallican Ordo, to learn the Roman chant, and to celebrate the Divine Office henceforth in conformity with the custom of Rome.1 We find Pepin’s son Charlemagne carrying out his father’s work in this direction.2
1Cf. Duchesne, Origins, p. 97, and Batiffol, History of the Roman Breviary, p. 86 et sqq.
2Ut cantum Romanum pleniter discant et ordinabiliter per nocturnale vel gradale officium peragatur, secundum quod beatae memoriae genitor noster Pippinus rex decertauit ut fieret, quando Gallicanum tulit, ob unanimitatem Apostolicae sedis et sanctae Dei ecclesiae pacificam concordiam.’ – Batiffol, p. 88.
This attempt to enforce liturgical uniformity doubtless contributed greatly to the stereotyping of one form of the Apostles’ Creed – that which is used now throughout the whole Western Church in both its Roman and Anglican branches.
Chapter V – Our Nicene Creed
The Creed which is used in the Communion Office of the Church of England is found there without any title, but in the eighth Article of Religion it is spoken of as the Nicene Creed, and this is the name by which it is commonly known, although some, thinking to be more accurate, call it the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed. And, until a few years ago, its history, as generally given, was very simple indeed; for we were told that the greater part of the Creed, down to the words ‘I believe in the Holy Ghost,’ was drawn up at the Council of Nicaeea in 325, while the latter clauses, from ‘The Lord and Giver of life’ down to the end, were added at the first Council of Constantinople in 381 in order to meet the heresies of Macedonius and the Pneumatomachi.
By this simple statement the whole Creed was accounted for, with the exception of the clause ‘filioque’, which we were told was added later. Some five-and-twenty years ago, however, this account was called in question, and in the light of renewed investigation it seems very doubtful whether any part of the statement can be accepted as correct.
It is indeed very questionable how far we can term this Creed either ‘Nicene’ or ‘Constantinopolitan’ without a good deal of explanation of the sense in which we use these words, since there seems to be little doubt that the Creed, as we have it, is not the Nicene Creed, and that no part of it was drawn up at the Council of Constantinople.
It is difficult to understand how this confusion of names arose, since the evidence has been always accessible and does not depend on any recent discoveries of documents. Some1 have thought that G. J. Voss is responsible; for in his famous treatise De Tribus Symbolis he says that many writers called the Symbol not only ‘Constantinopolitan’ but also ‘Nicene,’ and he quotes Peter Lombard, Alexander Alesius, Durandus Mimatensis, and others. But as his earliest authority only carries us back to the middle of the twelfth century, Voss’s citations would not prove that the confusion of names was older than this.
1Dr. Lumby’s History of the Creeds, pp. 107–109.
In his next article, however, Voss makes the following statement:—
‘Moreover, the Synod of Ephesus itself understood it thus when it forbade anything to be added to the Nicene Symbol. It did not therefore mean to condemn the use of the Constantinopolitan Symbol, in which some things had been added to the Nicene by the Fathers of Constantinople, but it included the Constantinopolitan under the name of the Nicene Symbol. For Evagrius sets forth this opinion of the Synod of Ephesus in his Ecclesiastical History, lib II., cap. iv.’
From this passage it would seem that Voss thought that the Council of Ephesus regarded the Constantinopolitan Creed as the Nicene, but, as we shall shortly show, there is not the slightest trace at Ephesus of any knowledge of a Constantinopolitan Creed, and indeed there is much which is inconsistent with such knowledge. It therefore remains for us to see what Evagrius says in the passage to which Voss refers. We find in the portion of the chapter with which we are concerned that Evagrius is treating of the Council of Chalcedon, and that there is nothing in it which would justify the assertion of Voss in regard to Ephesus.
It will be best, however, for us briefly to review, at least so far as concerns the Symbols, the four great Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon.
In the year 325, under the Emperor Constantine, was held at Nicaea the first great Council of the Church since the days of the Apostles. Its special purpose was to meet and refute the heresy of Arius, and in doing this it drew up the Nicene Creed.
Among the most prominent bishops assembled at Nicaea was Eusebius of Caesarea, the friend of the Emperor and the leader of the moderate party in the Council. Shortly after the close of the Council he addressed a pastoral epistle1 to his own diocese to explain his action in accepting and signing the Nicene Creed. In this letter he tells his flock that he had presented to the Council his own Creed (which he gives in full), and that when it was read in the presence of the Emperor it was approved, and that the Emperor urged the other bishops to give their assent to it and to subscribe to its Articles in this very form, with the insertion of the one single word ομοούσιον.
1This Epist. ad Caesar. is preserved. Socrates, H. E. book i. 8. Migne, P. G. lxvii. col. 69.
But, says Eusebius, under the pretext of the addition of ομοούσιον they made the following writing, i.e. the Nicene Creed; and he goes on to say, that, after having satisfied himself by various questions as to the meaning of certain clauses, he had thought it right, for the sake of peace, to give his consent and to subscribe this Creed. There seems little doubt that the Creed which Eusebius put forth was the Creed of his own Church, the Church of Caesarea, and a comparison of it with the Nicene Creed justifies the statement of Eusebius that it was its base.
In the year 381, at the call of the Emperor Theodosius, a Council met in Constantinople under the presidency of Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, to advance the cause of the Nicene Faith over Arianism in the East, and to meet its Pneumatomachian offshoot. We do not possess the Acts of this Council, but we learn what it did from its canons and from certain statements that have come down to us from the Synod held the next year, 382, at Constantinople. In the first canon we read: ‘The Confession of Faith of the three hundred and eighteen fathers who were assembled at Nicaea in Bithynia shall not be abolished, but shall remain, and every heresy shall be anathematised.’
In the Synod held the next year at Constantinople we are referred to a ‘Tome’ which the OEcumenical Council of Constantinople had drawn up the year before; and some have supposed that this ‘Tome’ contained the Creed as we now have it, that is, with the Articles which followed the Confession of belief in the Holy Ghost, and which were directed against the Macedonians. This is, however, only surmise, and we have no positive evidence that any other Creed was set forth at Constantinople than the Creed of Nicaea, which we are explicitly told was confirmed.
In 431 the third great Council was held at Ephesus for the purpose of refuting Nestorius and his followers. In this Council the Nicene Creed was twice read and confirmed, in the first session and in the sixth session. In this last Charisius of Philadelphia called attention to a Nestorian Creed which was condemned, and produced before the assembled fathers his own Creed, doubtless that of Philadelphia. The Synod ordered that no one should be permitted to subscribe or to compose any other Faith than that which had been defined by the Holy Fathers who were assembled at Nicaea with the Holy Ghost, and they added the penalties of excommunication and deposition to any who presumed to do so.1
1Cf. Hefele, vol. iii. p. 71 (Eng. Trans.), and Labbé et Cossart, tom. iii. p. 689.
Here we would observe simply that at the Council of Ephesus there is not the slightest trace of the Constantinopolitan Creed, and that it is practically excluded by the decree which forbids the putting forth of any other Faith than that of Nicaea. Voss’s contention, that the Creed of Constantinople was included under the name of Nicaea, is refuted by the fact that we have the Nicene Creed in full as read at Ephesus, and that it corresponds precisely with that of Nicaea, with the single exception of the insertion of one clause: after ‘Ascended into heaven’ is interpolated ‘And sitteth at the right hand of the Father.’
In the year 451 the fourth OEcumenical Council was held at Chalcedon. In its second session the Nicene Creed was read with the anathema against the Arian heresy, and received with enthusiastic acclamations.1 Then the Creed of the one hundred and fifty fathers at Constantinople was read and received, but without the enthusiasm which had been manifested in regard to the Nicene.
1Labbé et Cossart, tom. iv. p. 341.
After this Aetius, Archdeacon of Constantinople, read the letter of Cyril to Nestorius which had been approved at Ephesus, and a subsequent letter to John of Antioch, together with the letter of Pope Leo to Flavian, all of which were accepted as the true Faith.1
1Hefele, vol. iii. p. 317.
The fifth session of the Council of Chalcedon was perhaps the most important to Christendom of any conciliar action. In it the definition of the Faith of the Council was drawn up. After referring to the regulations of the Synod of Ephesus, they add: ‘We decree that the Confession of the three hundred and eighteen fathers at Nicaea is a light to the right and unblemished Faith, and that that is also valid which was decreed by the one hundred and fifty fathers at Constantinople for the confirmation of the Catholic and Apostolic Faith.’1
1Hefele, vol. iii. p. 346.
Then follows a literal insertion of the Nicene and Constantinopolitan Creeds. And after bearing witness to the sufficiency of the Nicene Creed, but of the difficulties which had arisen from heresy, the definition adds – ‘Therefore the holy, great and ecumenical Synod decrees that the Faith of the three hundred and eighteen fathers shall remain inviolate, and that the doctrine afterwards promulgated by the one hundred and fifty fathers at Constantinople on account of the Pneumatomachi shall have equal validity, being put forth by them not in order to add to the Creed of Nicaea anything that was lacking, but to make known also in writing their consciousness concerning the Holy Ghost against the denials of his glory.’1
1Hefele, vol. iii. p. 347, and Labbé et Cossart, tom. iv. 561–565.
Here we have the first distinct mention of the Creed of Constantinople. It occurs twice in the Synod, in the second and in the fifth sessions, and in each case is preceded by the Creed of Nicaea, and followed by the Epistles of Cyril, etc. We would call attention to the fact that the copies of the Creed read and preserved in the second and fifth sessions differ enormously – the earlier one read by Eunomius corresponding with that contained in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus. The one given in the definition differs from this in no less than eight clauses.1
1Swainson, The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, pp. 129, 130.
To sum up our evidence thus far, we find that the first explicit mention of any Creed having been drawn up at the Council of Constantinople is contained in the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, where it is twice asserted that the Creed as we have it now was drawn up by the hundred and fifty fathers at Constantinople, the reason being clearly given in the second place that it was not because the Nicene Creed was lacking that the clauses in regard to the Holy Ghost were added, but to meet the heresies of the Pneumatomachi. The statement that this is the Creed of the hundred and fifty fathers seems to be attributed to Aetius, Archdeacon of Constantinople, and some have thought that it was made by him for political reasons and was untrue.1 This is, however, difficult to believe in face of the fact that it was received by the whole Council as true. It is also very difficult to reconcile this, not only with the omission of any reference to the Creed in what remains to us of the records of the Council of Constantinople (this might be accounted for by their imperfection), but with the explicit exclusion by the decree of the Council of Ephesus of any other Creed except that of Nicaea, which is given without the Constantinopolitan clauses.
1Swainson, The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, pp. 118 and 124.
Our difficulty, however, is enormously increased by positive evidence that this Creed was not drawn up at the Council of Constantinople, since we find it quoted in a work by S. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis or Constantia, in Cyprus. This work, entitled Ancoratus,1 gives our present Creed with very slight verbal differences and with the Nicene anathema attached to it. S. Epiphanius more than once indicates the date of his book as 374, so that the Creed was known to him at least seven years before the Council of Constantinople met, and of course it may have been in existence some time before that.
1Epiphan. Ancoratus, cxix. Migne, P. G. xliii. col. 232.
To sum up our investigations thus far, we find that the common account of our Nicene Creed, that it was drawn up at the Council of Nicaea down to the words ‘I believe in the Holy Ghost,’ and that the Articles which follow this clause were added at the Council of Constantinople, is inconsistent with three well-supported historical facts.
First, that the earlier part of it differs very greatly from the Nicene Creed;
Second, that the whole of it, including, that is, the Articles which were supposed to have been added at Constantinople, was in existence and was well known some years before that Council was called together; and
Third, that, while there is no trace of any such Creed in the very imperfect accounts we have of the Council of Constantinople, there is also no trace of it in the subsequent Council of Ephesus, which excommunicates any one proposing any other Creed than that of Nicaea, and gives the Creed of Nicaea in full.
The second fact, that our Creed was in existence previous to the Council of Constantinople, needs no discussion. The last, that there is no evidence of its recognition by that Council, and positive evidence of its non-recognition by the Council of Ephesus, has been already fully treated.
We have, therefore, now to turn our attention to the first fact, that those Articles of our Creed which cover the same ground as the Nicene Creed differ so greatly from it that it is difficult to believe that it is the source from which they are derived. This can best be shown by a comparison of the two Creeds, which reveals the following discrepancies:
In the first Article the clause ‘Maker of heaven and earth’ is inserted after the word ‘Almighty’.
In the second the clause ‘Before all worlds’ is inserted after ‘begotten’, and the order of words in the whole sentence is changed.
In the next line the very characteristic parenthesis, ‘That is of the substance of the Father,’ explanatory of the words ‘begotten of the Father’, is omitted. This is the more striking because of the importance attached to this clause by Athanasius and his followers.
The next clause, ‘God of God’, is also omitted, and the explanatory clause after ‘By Whom all things were made,’ viz. ‘both things in heaven and things in earth,’ is also omitted. To the clause ‘For our salvation came down’ are added the words ‘from heaven’; and after ‘and was incarnate’ is inserted ‘of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary’. Before the word ‘suffered’ is interpolated ‘and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate’; and after ‘suffered’ is inserted ‘and was buried.’ After ‘He rose again the third day’ is added ‘according to the Scriptures’; and after ‘He ascended into heaven’ the clause ‘and sitteth on the right hand of the Father.’
In the Article referring to our Lord’s second coming two additions are found – the word ‘again’ and ‘with glory’ – and the whole clause ‘Whose Kingdom shall have no end’ is inserted. Here of course the parallel ends, since the Nicene Creed stops with the words ‘and in the Holy Ghost.’ But the three omissions and eleven additions to which we have drawn attention are sufficient to prove the inaccuracy of the statement that the first part of the Creed as we now have it was drawn up at the Council of Nicaea.
This, too, is the more evident when we take into consideration the care with which, on more than one occasion, the ipsissima verba of the Nicene Creed were insisted on, as for instance, when Nestorius at the Council of Ephesus quoted the words ‘was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary’ as part of the Nicene Creed, he was immediately corrected by S. Cyril of Alexandria, who quoted the correct form;1 and again, at the Council of Chalcedon, Diogenes, Bishop of Cyzicus, quoted apparently from the Constantinopolitan Creed, when he accused Eutyches of falsehood in denying that the Faith of the Nicene Council could receive any additions; but the Egyptian Bishops present protested on the ground that Eutyches had correctly quoted the Creed, which to them meant the Creed of Nicaea, and that no addition could be made to it.
1S. Cyril Alex., Adu. Nest. i. 8. Migne, P. G. lxxvi. col. 49.
If then the Constantinopolitan Creed, so called, is not a recension of the Nicene Creed, from whence was it derived? This question was first answered in 1876 by Dr. Hort in his Two Dissertations. He points out that the basis of the Constantinopolitan Creed is the early Creed of the Church of Jerusalem as found in the Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril of Jerusalem. If we compare our Creed with the Jerusalem Creed as reconstructed from S. Cyril’s Lectures, we find that the first six lines, ending with ‘Begotten of His Father before all worlds’, is taken verbatim from that Creed, with the exception of the words ‘very God’, which are reserved for their Nicene place in the next clause but one. Then follows a short extract from the Nicene Creed: ‘Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.’ After this comes ‘by Whom all things were made’, which is common to the Creeds of Jerusalem and Nicaea. Then the Nicene extract, ‘Who for us men and for our salvation came down,’ to which is added ‘from heaven’ (the last phrase being found in the Apostolic Constitutions and in the Cappadocian and Mesopotamian Creeds). After this there is no trace of Nicene influence, and the Jerusalem Creed is followed, except that after ‘and was incarnate’ is added ‘of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary’. After ‘crucified’ is added ‘for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered.’ After ‘the third day’ is added ‘according to the Scriptures,’
In the Article which speaks of our Lord’s coming with glory to judge the quick and the dead, the word ‘again’ is inserted. After ‘the Holy Ghost’ is added ‘the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who, with the Father and the Son together, is worshipped and glorified.’ ‘Who spake by the prophets’ is found in the Jerusalem Creed, and ‘one Holy Catholic Church,’ to which are added the words ‘and Apostolic’. The Jerusalem Creed reads ‘in one baptism of repentance for the remission of sins’ where ours has simply ‘We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.’ We have ‘We look for the resurrection of the dead’ where the Jerusalem Creed has ‘the resurrection of the flesh’. We read ‘life of the world to come’ where the Jerusalem Creed has ‘life everlasting.’
Our Creed (the so-called Constantinopolitan) is therefore evidently a revision of the Creed of the Church of Jerusalem, and a revision in which only two words are omitted: the word ‘Paraclete’ after ‘the Holy Ghost’, and the word ‘repentance’ after the word ‘baptism’. Otherwise the entire Creed of Jerusalem from beginning to end is reproduced in the Constantinopolitan Creed. The few new clauses in the last part were doubtless added to meet the Pneumatomachian heresy, while the section which is borrowed from the Nicene Creed was added to bring it into agreement with that part of the Creed of Nicaea which had in view the refutation of the heresy of Arius.
In order to show more clearly the disagreement of our Creed with the Nicene, and its agreement with the Creed of Jerusalem, we subjoin in parallel columns our Creed arranged on two bases, first taking the Creed of Nicaea as the base, and then that of Jerusalem. In each case the words in italics are those which are not found respectively in the Creeds of Nicaea and Jerusalem, while the words in brackets are those which have place in the basic Creed, but are not in our own.
The Constantinopolitan Creed,
With the Nicene Creed as its Base.
The Constantinopolitan Creed, With the
Earlier Creed of Jerusalem as its Base.
I.—1. We believe in one God the Father Almighty Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
I.—1. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
II.—2. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Begotten of His (the) Father before all worlds: [that is, of the substance of the Father] [God of God]. Light of Light, very God, of very God, Begotten not made, Being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made [which are in heaven, and which are in earth].
II.—2. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of His (the) Father before all worlds. Light of Light, very God, of very God, Begotten not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By Whom all things were made.
3. Who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
3. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven; and was incarnate of the Holy Ghost, and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
4. And was crucified for us, under Pontius Pilate, He suffered, and was buried.
4. And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, He suffered, and was buried.
5. And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures.
5. And the third day, He rose again, according to the Scriptures.
6. And ascended into heaven.
6. And ascended into heaven.
7. And sitteth on the right Hand of the Father.
7. And sitteth on the right hand of the Father.
8. And he shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.
8. And he shall come again with glory, to judge the quick, and the dead: Whose kingdom shall have no end.
III.—9. And in the Holy Ghost the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father, and the Son, together is worshipped, and glorified, Who spake by the prophets.
III—9. And in [one] the Holy Ghost [the Paraclete] the Lord, and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father, and the Son, together, is worshipped, and glorified, Who spake by the prophets.
10. In one Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
10. In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
11. We acknowledge one Baptism, for the remission of sins.
11. We acknowledge one Baptism [of repentance] for the remission of sins,
12. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
12. We look for the re-resurrection of the dead, [flesh] and the life of the world to come [everlasting]. Amen.
We may remark that in the Greek the agreement and disagreement of our Creed with these two bases are somewhat more striking, on account of the order of words, than can be represented in English, as will be seen by reference to the original Creeds.1
1Cf. Appendix B.
There is yet a further question of interest which may be asked, and we think has been answered, namely, Where, when, and by whom was the recension of the Creed of Jerusalem made which we find in the Ancoratus of Epiphanius, and which was quoted at the Council of Chalcedon as the work of the one hundred and fifty fathers at the Council of Constantinople?
Dr. Hort has pointed out that ‘The legitimate Bishop of Jerusalem during the whole period within the limits of which the construction of the Creed must of necessity be placed was Cyril, to whose lectures, written in youth, we owe our knowledge of his Church’s Creed towards the middle of the fourth century.1 In his earliest years he associated with men who were commonly regarded as semi-Arians, though later he suffered expulsion from his diocese at the hands of Arians, and he is distinctly stated to have accepted the term ομοούσιον. Thus his personal history is in some sort parallel to a transition from the Creed of Jerusalem to that which we call Constantinopolitan.’
1Hort, Two Dissertations, p. 84.
Again, if we examine the additions to the Creed of Jerusalem which we have pointed out in the Constantinopolitan Creed, we find many of them in S. Cyril’s own lectures, and others taken directly from holy Scripture. As an instance of the first, we may notice his substitution of ‘resurrection of the dead’ for ‘resurrection of the flesh.’ This we find constantly in Lecture xviii. 1–21, where he actually says, ‘resurrection of the flesh, that is, of the dead.’ It is true, however, that ‘resurrection of the dead’ is also found in the Cappadocian, Mesopotamian, Philadelphian, and Antiochian Creeds.
If then, with Dr. Hort, we accept S. Cyril as the author of the revision, to what period in his life can we assign it? Probably to his return to his diocese after his exile about the year 362. There would then be opportunity, if not need, for some revision of his Church’s Creed by adopting at least the term ομοούσιον, which proclaimed full communion with the orthodox champions of Nieaea, and the insertion of some other clauses to meet the heresies which threatened his flock.
The explanation suggested by Dr. Hort, that in the Constantinopolitan Creed we have a revision of the Creed of Jerusalem, also enables us to suggest the manner in which S. Epiphanius became acquainted with the Creed which he quotes in his Ancoratus. He was himself a native of Palestine, and shows an acquaintance with things which happened at Jerusalem, Eleutheropolis, and Caesarea. Indeed, he gives a list of the Bishops of Jerusalem, and a few years after writing the Ancoratus we find him corresponding with S. Basil about difficulties which had arisen among the monks on the Mount of Olives. We can therefore understand how he probably became acquainted with this Creed.
There is yet one further suggestion, which to some extent enables us to explain the great difficulty, that the Council of Chalcedon speaks of our Creed as the Creed of the one hundred and fifty fathers at Constantinople, whereas we can find no traces of it either in the accounts of that Council or in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus. The suggestion is this, that, inasmuch as S. Cyril was prominent in the Council of Constantinople, where it seems probable that charges had been laid against him, either by envoys from his own diocese or by Egyptian bishops, and where, in the triumph of Meletius, Cyril seems to have been vindicated, it is very probable that in order to prove his orthodoxy Cyril produced his own personal Creed, that is, the Creed of his Church, which, nearly twenty years previously, if we are correct in our surmise, he had revised. This Creed, while not adopted as the Creed of the Council, would probably have been accepted as valid, as the Creed of Charisius seems to have been at Ephesus, and as our Creed certainly was at Chalcedon. Hence it may have been copied into some of the lost Acts of the Council of Constantinople, as the Creed of Charisius was into the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, and seventy years later may have been quoted in all good faith by Aetius from a copy which he had of the Acts of the Council as the work of the Council itself. This is of course simply surmise, but so far seems to be the only theory which enables us to reconcile the language used by Aetius in the Council of Chalcedon with the fact that our Creed was in existence when Epiphanius wrote his Ancoratus seven years before the Council of Constantinople met.
We shall leave to the next chapter the history of our Creed after the Council of Chalcedon.
Chapter VI – The Later History of the Nicene Creed
In the last chapter we traced the history of the so-called Nicene Creed up to the date of the Council of Chalcedon, and we found that however doubtful its Constantinopolitan authority might be, it certainly received OEcumenical recognition at the Council of Chalcedon. It remains for us to continue its history until we find it commonly used in the liturgies of the Church, and especially to note the additions which it has received since the Council of Chalcedon.
I. For eighty-five years after the Council we find no traces of our Creed. In the year 325 at the Council of Carthage,1 over which Boniface, Bishop of that See, presided, the Nicene Creed only was read and entered among the Acts of the Council, without any reference to the Creed of Constantinople. But in the year 536, at two Councils held respectively at Constantinople2 and Jerusalem,3 we find many illusions to the Creed of the one hundred and fifty fathers at Constantinople.
1Hefele, vol. iv. p. 141.
2Mansi, tom. viii. pp. 963, 1051, 1063, 1066, 1088, 1151.
3Labbé et Cossart, tom. v. p. 281.
In the fourth session of this Council of Constantinople Anthimus was condemned, although he had pretended that he accepted the holy Synods. In the fifth session a kind of Rule of Faith was read as addressed to the Emperor Justinian.
The chief interest for us in the Synod, however, is in the ‘Professions of Faith’ which are quoted in it from Dalmatia, Syria, Antioch, Constantinople, from Jerusalem, from Tyre, and finally from the Emperor Justinian himself. Among these, that of Antioch recognises only the Creed of Nicaea; that of Constantinople, which is of the year 518, states that the Council of the one hundred and fifty confirmed the Symbol of the three hundred and eighteen, and some Archimandrites used the phrase of the Justinian Codex: ‘The Nicene Creed uttered the holy Symbol in which we were baptized, and baptize; the Constantinopolitan Synod confirmed it, that of Ephesus established it, and that of Chalcedon set its seal upon it.’1
1Swainson, pp. 134, 135.
We find also a reference to it in the fifteenth Epistle of Pope Vigilius; and in the fifth OEcumenical Council (the second Council of Constantinople), in 653, both the Nicene and Constantinopolitan Creeds are quoted in full as found in the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon.
II. In the first five centuries of the Church’s history there seems to have been no Creed used in the liturgy. Certainly this was the case in the African Church in the days of S. Augustine, for he says to those who are about to be baptized, ‘In the Church at the altar the Lord’s Prayer is said daily, and the faithful hear it. ... In the Church among the people ye do not daily hear the Creed.’1
1S. Aug., Serm. lviii. nn. 12, 13. Migne, P. L. xxxviii. col. 399.
So far as we know, its earliest introduction in the East was about the year 471, when Peter Fullo, Patriarch of Antioch, for the first time commanded its use in the Eucharist, and in 510 Timotheus of Constantinople followed his example. Our authority for this statement is the Ecclesiastical History of Theodorus Lector, who tells us that both ordered it to be said ‘at every synaxis.’1 Zaccaria2 doubts whether these orders of heretical bishops were obeyed to any great extent. He believes that the Emperor Justin, 566, was the first who directed that the Creed be generally used in the service. Justin’s direction was that in every Catholic Church the Creed of Constantinople should be sung by the people before the Lord’s Prayer. It became, however, the custom to sing it before the consecration.3
1Theod. Lect., E. H. tom. ii. pp. 566, 563. Paris, 1673.
2Zaccaria, Bibliotheca Ritualis, tom. ii. p. 104. Rome, 1781.
3Cf. Swainson, p. 133.
In 589 a third Council of Toledo, to which we shall refer later, ordered the Creed to be recited every Lord’s Day in the Holy Office throughout the Churches of Spain and Gallia Narbonensis, according to the form of the Oriental Churches.1
1Labbé et Cossart, tom. v. p. 1009.
So far as we know, this was the first introduction of the Creed into the liturgy of the Western Church, and it was expressly introduced as an antidote to the Arian heresy which infected the Spanish Church, and which was solemnly abjured at that Council. S. Isidore of Seville (c. 610) speaks of it as an established custom.1 Charlemagne seems to have introduced it into the Churches of France, and apparently about the same time it was used in the Roman Church; for Leo III, in a conference with the legates of Charlemagne, referred to a permission which he had given for singing the Creed; and it is mentioned in an Ordo Romanus apparently compiled soon after that time, since Amalarius, who flourished between 812 arid 836, comments on it, noticing the use of the Creed and justifying it.2 AEneas of Paris speaks of the whole Gallic Church singing the Creed at Mass on the Lord’s Day.3 It, however, seems to have been dropped at Rome for a considerable period and to have been reintroduced by Benedict VIII, 1014, at the request of the Emperor, Henry II.
1De .Eccles. Off. lib. i. c. 16. Migne, P. L. lxxxiii. col. 753.
2Amalar., Ecloga, n. 17. Migne, P. L. cv. col. 1323.
3AEneas, Adv. Graeca. Migne, P. L. cxxi. cap. 93, col. 721.
Berno, Abbot of Richenau, gives us some interesting information in regard to the reason, or perhaps the excuse, why the Creed was not recited in the liturgy at Rome. In speaking of the differences of usage in ecclesiastical matters in the East and West, he says that the Romans up to the time of Henry II, the Emperor, left unsaid the Creed after the Gospel, and that certain Romans, being asked in his presence by the Emperor why they did so, gave the following answer: ‘That forsooth the Roman Church had never been tainted with any dregs of heresy, but remained unshaken in the soundness of the Catholic Faith according to the teaching of S. Peter, and so it was more needful for that Symbol to be frequently sung by those who had been tainted by any beresy.’1 Berno tells us, however, that Benedict yielded to the request of Henry and re-introduced it into the Roman liturgy.
1Bernonis Augiensis, Libellus de quibusdam rebus ad missa officium pertinentibus. Migne, P. L. cxlii. p. 1061. Cf. also Lumby, The History of the Creeds, p. 106, and Scudamore, Notitia Eucharistica, first edition, pp. 232–235.
III. The Nicene Creed as we have it in our Prayer Book differs from that of Constantinople by two additions and by one omission. The additions are the clause ‘God of God’, and the words ‘And the Son’, which latter in the West has been added to the clause ‘proceedeth from the Father’. The omission, which is peculiar to the English Prayer Book, is the word ‘holy’ in the Article one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’. It remains for us, therefore, to investigate these introductions and this omission.
i. By far the most important is the interpolation of the ‘filioque’ into the Creed, since it has been made the chief excuse, if not reason, for the great schism between the Eastern and Western Churches. We find it first in the canons of the third Council of Toledo, 589, to which we have already referred as introducing the Creed into the liturgy of the Western Church. This Council was convoked by Reccared, King of the Goths, to give solemn effect to the national abjuration of Arianism. The King, addressing the Council, spoke first of his own conversion to the orthodox Faith, and then of his desire to do something for the glory of God in setting forth the true Faith which he had accepted. After anathematising Arius, he declares his adherence to the doctrines set forth by the four great Councils, and quotes a Latin version of the Nicene Creed, and afterwards that of the Creed of Constantinople, but with the words ‘et filio’ added for the first time (so far at least as we know) to the Article on the procession of the Holy Ghost.
To this was added in the Acts of the Council a tractate on the Council of Chalcedon, and these Acts were subscribed first by the King and his Queen, and then by all the bishops. The Creed thus set forth was received with the greatest joy by the whole Assembly, and apparently without one dissenting voice.
Twenty-three anathemas were drawn up, and to these were added certain disciplinary prescriptions for the regulation of morals, the second of which is as follows: ‘In accordance with the proposal of the King, before the Lord’s Prayer the Creed of Constantinople shall be sung with clear voice.’1
1Hefele, vol. iv. pp. 416–422.
It is very difficult to explain the introduction of the ‘filioque’. The majority of writers point to the fact that there was no discussion and that there were no dissentients, from which they draw the inference that the Council were quite unaware that their Creed contained anything abnormal, for had they known that they were introducing into it a new clause, ‘filioque’, surely there would have been some dissentients, or at least some discussion.
There are others, however, who point to the great emphasis laid upon the double procession of the Holy Ghost, for not only does it appear in the Creed set forth, but it occurs in the address of the King to the Council, in a sort of Confession which he recited, as follows: ‘In equal degree must the Holy Ghost be confessed by us, and we must preach that He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is of one substance with the Father and the Son.’
And in the third of the twenty-three anathemas against Arianism and other heresies, which are subjoined to the Acts of the Council, we read: If any one does not believe that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son, and is co-eternal with and like unto the Father and the Son, let him be anathema.’1
1Hefele, vol. ii. p. 417.
The matter is further complicated by the fact that John, Abbot of Biclaro, who had been made Bishop of Gerona shortly before the Council, had lately returned from Constantinople after a residence of seventeen years. In his Chronicle this John tells us that the custom of reciting the Creed before the Lord’s Prayer had been introduced into the Eastern Churches by the younger Justinian (as we have already noted), and it seems probable that the above capitulum was passed under his influence; and the question arises, ‘Could he have been ignorant of the interpolation of the filioque’?1
1Pusey, On the Clause ‘And the Son’, p. 184.
The effect of this interpolation in causing a rupture between the Greeks and Latins is said to have commenced at the Council of Gentilly, 767. There we read that there was a discussion between the Greeks and Romans as to whether the Holy Ghost so proceeds from the Father as he proceeds from the Son.1
1Mansi, tom, xii. p, 677.
The principal agent, however, in stereotyping the use of the ‘filioque’ in the Creed, seems to have been the King Charlemagne. In a letter addressed by Tarasius of Constantinople to the bishops and clergy of Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople, a Creed is given in which we find the following sentence: ‘I believe ... in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father by the Son, and Himself both is and is acknowledged as God.’1
1Migne, P. G. xcviii. col. 1461.
After the second Council of Nicaea, 787, it appeared that this Confession had met with acceptance from Pope Hadrian, and on this point Charlemagne addressed a remonstrance to the Pope concerning his admission of such erroneous doctrine as that of Tarasius. The Pope replied that it was not only the teaching of Tarasius but of the holy fathers, and quoted from the writings of Athanasius, Eusebius, Hilary, and others.
It is most strange that although the King’s letter expressly mentions the Nicene Creed as his authority for the doctrine he is advocating, the Pope does not point out that in the earliest Symbol the procession from the Father only is mentioned. The true reading of the Creed was evidently known to those around Charlemagne, for in the Council of Friuli (Forum Julii), 791, the Symbol set forth was the Constantinopolitan in a Latin translation, with the addition of the ‘filioque’, which addition was defended in an epistle addressed by Paulinus of Aquileia to the King, giving an accurate history of all that had taken place in the alteration of this much-discussed Article.
Three years later, at the Council of Frankfort, 794, where Charlemagne was present, and the Pope represented by legates, a ‘Libellus’ of the Italian bishops against Elipandus was read, the Synod having been called for the purpose of condemning his Adoptianist heresy. This Libellus seems to have been the work of Paulinus, and in it the double procession is emphatically stated.
This was followed by a Synodical letter by the Churches of Gaul and Germany to the presidents of the Spanish Churches, stating the decision of the Synod on the point in dispute, after which was given the letter of Charlemagne to Elipandus and the other Spanish bishops.
In this he states that he has sent to Rome and to Britain to summon ecclesiastics to consult on the question, and that he enclosed three Libelli, first the opinion of the Roman See, second of the bishops of the nearer part of Italy, and third of the bishops of Germany, Gaul, Aquitaine, and Britain; and to these he appends his own agreement, giving in it a form of Creed containing the double procession. Its occurrence in a document addressed to the Churches of Spain issuing from a Council, where Germany, Gaul, Italy, and Britain had been represented, proves that the doctrine of the double procession was accepted without question in the Churches of the West.
The next step in our investigation is the dispute to which Eginhard1 alludes under the date 809. The circumstances were as follows: A certain monk at Jerusalem, of the name of John, assailed some Latin monks on Mount Olivet as heretics, because they introduced the ‘filioque’ into the Creed. Not only at Jerusalem, but at Bethlehem, on Christmas Day, were they attacked on this subject, and in consequence sent one of their number to Rome to inquire what was right and what they should do.
1Eginhard. Migne, P. L. civ. col. 472.
In their message they ask that Charlemagne be informed of their trouble, and state that they have heard the Creed sung with the clause now objected to in the Imperial Chapel, and that the same clause occurs in two works – a Homily of S. Gregory and the Rule of S. Benedict, both of which they had received from the Emperor. They also quote a Dialogue of S. Benedict which the Pope had given them, and the Creed of S. Athanasius, as authorities for the form they were in the habit of using, and they pray the Pope to send them certain directions.
It is stated that the Pope sent them back a form of Creed containing the double procession, but this statement is rendered doubtful by the Pope’s subsequent action. The monks had asked that the Emperor be acquainted with their trouble, and so the Pope seems to have communicated with him, with the result that the Emperor assembled a Great Council at Aquis-Grani (Aix-la-Chapelle) for the purpose of discussing the question. The resolution of the Council was in favour of the addition, and an embassy was sent to the Pope to obtain his authority for the insertion of the words obnoxious to the Greeks.
In the course of the discussion with the ambassadors Pope Leo admits the truth of the doctrine of the procession from the Son, but draws a distinction between the truth of the doctrine and the impropriety of introducing the ‘filioque’ into the Creed, pointing out that there were other mysterious truths which it had never been deemed expedient to insert in the Creed, and advises that the clause be expunged from the Creed.
Anastasius in his Life of Leo,1 tells us that he caused two silver shields inscribed with the Creed, one in Greek, the other in Latin, to be fixed up in S. Peter’s; and S. Peter Damian informs us that the Creed to which the Pope desired to give such publicity was that of Constantinople. It seems therefore certain that at that time the Roman Church had not accepted the clause ‘filioque’, although it was used in the Churches of Spain, Gaul, and Germany, and was urged by the Emperor Charlemagne.
1Anastas. De vita Leonis, iii. Migne, P. L. cxxviii. col. 1238.
Fifty years later, however, this policy was reversed, for Nicholas I (858–867), when he was accused by Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, of corrupting the Nicene Creed by the addition of the ‘filioque’, made no attempt to contradict the statement, but, on the contrary, sought aid of Hinemar, Archbishop of Rheims, at whose instigation apparently Ratramn, monk of Corbey, wrote a work against this objection of the Greeks.
Here the history of the introduction of the ‘filioque’ in the Western Church ends. It has never been accepted by the Easterns, and later it led to the formal breach between the East and West. When in 1439 Eugenius IV succeeded in getting the Greeks to attend the Council of Florence, although Bessarion was gained over to the Latin side, and exerted his influence to induce his brethren to acknowledge the double procession, yet Mark of Ephesus refused to be won either by entreaties, bribes, or threats; and after the return of the Greeks to Constantinople, what had been done at Florence was repudiated, and to this day the ‘filioque’ in the Creed remains the great formal obstacle to union with the Greek Church.
ii. The other interpolation in our Creed is the clause ‘God of God’, which precedes the words ‘Light of Light’. These words are found in the original Creed of Nicaea, but are not found in authentic MSS. of the Constantinopolitan Creed. They were probably introduced into it unintentionally by some scribe from a reminiscence of the old Nicene Creed. The earliest Creed in which we find them is that of the third Council of Toledo, the same Creed in which the ‘filioque’ first appeared, and they have gradually been adopted into the Western forms of the Constantinopolitan Creed.
iii. The solitary omission from the text of the Constantinopolitan Creed, at the present day, occurs only in the Creed of the English Prayer Book. It is the omission of the word ‘holy’ in the Article ‘I believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.’ The usual explanation of this omission is the carelessness of the printer in the first edition of the English Prayer Book of 1549, his error being perpetuated in all subsequent editions of the Book of Common Prayer. It is pointed out that the omission can have no doctrinal significance, since the word ‘holy’ is found in the corresponding Article of the Apostles’ Creed, ‘the holy Catholic Church’.
There are, however, reasons for doubting whether this explanation is really as satisfactory as it has generally been supposed to be. In the first place, it is difficult to believe that men who had been in the habit of saying the Latin form of the Nicene Creed should fail to observe the omission of so important an attribute of the Church as ‘holy’, and that edition after edition could have been issued in which the mistake was unintentionally perpetuated.
It has been suggested, rather, that it was intentional on the part of the first revisers of the English Prayer Book, for it is well known that they were not content merely to translate slavishly from the Latin Breviary and Missal, but that, where they were able, they referred to what they considered to be ancient documents; and it has been pointed out1 that in a considerable number of compilations of Acts of Councils which were in circulation in the sixteenth century, from some cause or other, the word ‘sanctam’ was wanting in this Article of the Creed.
1E.g. in an article on the Anglican Version of the Nicene Creed in the Church Quarterly Review for July 1879.
In 1524 Merlin’s edition was published under the title Tomus Primus Quatuor Conciliorum Generalium, etc., Parisiis. The Creed appears in this volume three times: in the Acts of the Councils of Constantinople, Chalcedon, and the third Council of Toledo. In every case ‘sanctam’ is omitted.
In the Concilia Omnia of Peter Crabbe (Coloniae, 1538), two editions of the Constantinopolitan Creed are given in different translations; one has the ‘sanctam’, the other has not.
Again, there is Corranza’s Summa Conciliorum, Venice, 1546, which was probably well known in England on account of the reforming tendencies of Corranza, who professed to have constructed his work after comparisons both of Latin and Greek copies. In the only place in which the Creed is given in full, ‘sanctam’ is wanting. It is doubtful whether any Greek Acts of Councils were known to the English Reformers, and in Latin manuscript copies the compilation of Isidorus Mercator would be well known, and this repeats the omission of ‘sanctam’. Hence it is quite probable that in omitting the word ‘holy’ the compilers of the Prayer Book thought they were following the best documentary authority.
Attention has also been called to the rather extraordinary coincidence, if it be a coincidence, in the agreement on this and other points of our Creed with that of the third Council of Toledo. Not only is this Creed the first in which the ‘filioque’ is found, and the first in which ‘sanctam’ is omitted, but it has other points of resemblance to the Creed in the English Prayer Book. We repeat the words ‘I believe’ at the beginning of the third section of the Creed before the words ‘the Holy Ghost’, that is, we say ‘I believe in the Holy Ghost’. So does the Toletan Creed, except that it uses the plural, ‘Credimus et in Spiritum Sanctum.’ Other Creeds, as in the Missal, omit ‘Credo’. We have the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds.’ So, too, the Toletan Creed reads, ‘Filium Dei unigenitum ex Patre natum’; but the missal has ‘Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum.’
The only other discrepancy in our version of the Creed is in the clause, ‘And He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead,’ where the word ‘both’ is wanting in the original.
Chapter VII – The Athanasian Creed
The history of the Athanasian Creed has ever been one of the most difficult problems in Patristic history, and it is one in which we are able to record much less advance of late years than in the investigation of the history of the other two Creeds.
Indeed, Waterland in his Critical History of the Athanasian Creed, published in 1723, arrives at very much the same conclusions, in regard to its age and the school from which it emanated, as the latest writers among ourselves, Ommaney and Burn, have reached. The proofs adduced in modern books are stronger, because we are able to marshal greater documentary evidence; but the best writers agree in tracing it, as Waterland did, to the first half of the fifth century, to the south of Gaul and the School of Lerins.
Waterland suggested S. Hilary of Arles, the successor of S. Honoratus and second Abbot of Lerins. Burn thinks S. Honoratus himself was the author; while Swainson attributes it to S. Vincent of Lerins; and Kattenbusch would place its origin some ten years earlier. All, however, practically agree as to its date, with the exception of Dom Morin,1 who assigns it to a century later, and tentatively suggests S. Caesarius of Arles as its author.
1Le Symbole d’Athanase et son premier Témoin, Saint Césaire d’Arles, par Dom G. Morin, O. S. B. (Extrait de la Revue Bénédictine. Octobre 1901).
In this chapter we shall briefly indicate the most important evidence on which these opinions are based, passing over, however, many matters of detail, for which we refer our readers to the treatises of Burn and Ommaney.
The evidence is naturally of two kinds, external and internal: the evidence of documents in which either the Creed or quotations from it are found, and the evidence which can be deduced from the Creed itself.
I. The external evidence which we have to consider starts in the first half of the ninth century, and may be traced back with more or less clearness to the first half of the fifth; in other words, we have to review a period of about four hundred years.
There is no doubt of the existence of the Athanasian Creed in its complete form1 as we have it today in the first half of the ninth century, for we find many quotations from it in different MSS., as well as copies of the Creed itself.
1For Latin text of Athanasian Creed cf. Appendix C.
i. Florus the deacon, in an epistle to Hyldrad the Abbot,1 tells us that at this period, the early part of the ninth century, Psalters generally contained the Athanasian Creed, together with the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Old and New Testament Canticles, and of this we have evidence in three MS. Psalters now in existence: Athelstan’s Psalter in the British Museum; the Utrecht Psalter, which Ussher refers to in his work De Symbolo Romano as being in the Cottonian Library, which was lost for a considerable period and rediscovered in the year 1871 in the Utrecht Library; and the Psalter of Lothair at Paris. Together with these we may mention a Commentary on the Quicunque in the Library at Orleans, attributed to Theodulf.
1Mai Script. Vet. nou. collect, tom. iii. pp. 251, 255.
We find, too, quotations from the Athanasian Creed in various authors, e.g.
1. Agobard, Bishop of Lyons, quotes verse 2: ‘He who does not condescend to read what proceeds from ourselves may rest satisfied with the judgment of the holy fathers here annexed, because the blessed Athanasius says: “Except a man keep the Catholic Faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”’1
1Migne, P. L. cv. col. 35.
2. The Latin monks on Mount Olivet, at Jerusalem, in the year 809 wrote to the Pope concerning the dispute which had arisen over the ‘filioque’, and in their letter adduced the Fides S. Athanasii in support of the double procession.1
1Baluzii, Misc. tom. ii. p. 84.
3. Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans, in a work on the procession of the Holy Ghost, written at the command of Charlemagne about the same date, speaks of the ‘Quicunque’ as the work of S. Athanasius, and from it quotes seven verses (vv. 20–26).
4. Alcuin, a few years earlier, writing on the procession of the Holy Ghost, twice speaks of the Creed as the work of S. Athanasius. In the first place he quotes vv. 20–22, in the second from vv. 7–26.1
1Alcuin. Migne, P. L. ci. col. 73, 82.
ii. At this period, too, we find the use of the Athanasian Creed canonically enjoined in episcopal charges.
1. Capitula Examinationis Generalis, a series of visitation articles, in the first of which the Athanasian Creed seems to be referred to under the title Fides Catholica.
2. Capitula de doctrina Clericorum. This contains a list of ‘things’ which all ecclesiastics are commanded to learn. The first of these is ‘Fidem Catholicam Sancti Athanasii et Caetera quaecunque de fide.’ Then follows the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer. The latter of these two documents has been assigned to the year 802. The former may have been a little earlier.1
1Both are found in Migne, P. L. xcvii. col. 246–249.
3. The Capitulare of Hayto, Bishop of Basle.
In the fourth chapter priests are required to learn by heart the Athanasian Creed and to recite it in the Office of Prime on Sundays.1
1Labbé et Cossart, tom. vii. p. 1523.
We may sum up this first stage of our investigation by saying that in the very early years of the ninth century the Athanasian Creed existing in its integrity was well known and was generally believed to be the work of Athanasius; and we may infer from this that it was at this time an ancient Creed. For, as Ommaney points out, this follows not only from the fact that men of learning like Alcuin assign it to the time of Athanasius, which they would not have done had the document been comparatively modern in their days, but that in placing it side by side with the Te Deum, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles’ Creed, they showed their recognition of it as an authority to be appealed to in matters of faith and doctrine, and to be commented on, as it was, for instance, by Theodulf (whose Commentary we have already noticed) and others. From all which it is evident that in the beginning of the ninth century it was regarded as a very ancient document.
iii. In the eighth century we find abundant evidence of the Athanasian Creed.
1. The profession of Faith made by Denebert,1 798, at his consecration to the bishopric of Worcester, in which he quotes several verses of the Athanasian Creed, and introduces them by the suggestive words, ‘Scriptum est’.
1British Mus., Cleopatra, E. 1.
In this century we have four MSS. of the Creed itself, whole or in part.
2. Paris, Bibl. Nat. Latin, 4858, the first eleven verses to ‘tres aeterni’ inclusive. This fragment is found on the last leaf, and the mutilated condition of the MS. suggests that probably it contained originally the whole Creed. In the other three MSS. the whole Creed is contained. Two of them are Psalters, and Psalters of great value.
3. One is in Paris, Bibl. Nat. Latin, 13159.
4. The other is in the Imperial Library at Vienna.
5. The last is in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, O. 212. It came from the Irish Monastery at Bobbio in the north of Italy, and is the earliest MS. of the Creed discovered up to the present time. It was written by an Irish hand, probably in Ireland. Internal evidence shows that it is not an autograph, but a copy of an older MS.1
1Cf. Ommaney, p. 95.
6. We may also notice a MS. of the eighth century: Paris, Bibl. Nat. Latin, 3836. This, however, is not a MS. of the Creed itself, but a part of a sermon in which verses of the Creed (27–34, 36–40) are incorporated, or, rather, a somewhat free reference is made to them. This MS. is generally known as the Treves Fragment, from the introduction, ‘Haec inveni Treveris in uno libro scriptum.’ As the writer tells us he copied the sermon, and it was probably an old document from which he copied it, it is an independent witness to the fact that sermons were preached on the ‘Quicunque’ in the seventh century.
iv. Besides these documents, we have several commentaries on the Creed, among which the seven most important are the Bouhier, Oratorian, Paris, Troyes, Orleans, and Stavelot; and that of Fortunatus. Of these the Oratorian1 is of special interest and importance on account of the express testimony, which it bears to the antiquity of the Creed. The author says that he had always seen it ascribed to S. Athanasius, even in ancient manuscripts.2 This MS. Ommaney assigns to the end of the seventh or beginning of the eighth century, and Burn thinks it was perhaps the lost Commentary of Theodulf.3
1The Oratorian is contained in a Troyes MS. No. 804. Ommaney calls it ‘Oratorian’ because the MSS. from which it was printed belonged to the College De l’Oratoire at Troyes.
2Traditur enim quod a beatissimo Athanasio Alexandrinae ecclesim antestite (sic) sit editum: ita namque semper eum uidi praetitulatum etiam in ueteribus codicibus.
3Burn, p. 166.
It may be pointed out that if in all ancient MSS. the Creed is ascribed to S. Athanasius, and by ancient MSS. we understand those which were at least a century old at the time the Commentary was written, then we must allow a considerable period, before these ancient MSS. were written, for the tradition that the Creed was the work of S. Athanasius to have spread so far, and to have been so generally accepted as to have found its way into these ancient MSS. Ommaney considers that such an allowance of time would place the original Creed somewhere in the first half of the fifth century.
v. In the seventh century we find evidence of the existence of the ‘Quicunque’ in the Autun Canon and in that of the sixth Council of Toledo.
1. The Autun Canon is preserved in two ancient collections of Canons known as the Angers and the Herovall Collections. The Angers Collection is the basis of the Herovall, and Ommaney assigns it to the early part of the eighth century. The latest document included in it is that containing the Autun Canons, subscribed by S. Leger, Bishop of Autun, who died 678. The canons in these collections are not arranged chronologically according to the order of the Councils at which they were promulgated, but according to their subject-matter. The first chapter has for its title ‘De fide catholica et Symbolo’, and contains two canons, the first with this title, ‘Incipiunt Canones Augustodininsis Hira Prima,’ and the canon itself reads: ‘If any cleric, priest, deacon or sub-deacon fail to recite correctly the Symbol which the Apostles delivered under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and the faith of S. Athanasius, let him be censured by the Bishop.’ The other canon, the thirteenth of Agde, refers to the Traditio Symboli. The dates assigned to this Council of Autun vary from 661 to 677. The middle date assigned to it by Sirmondus, 670, is the one generally received.
2. The fourth Council of Toledo, 633, presided over by S. Isidore, Bishop of Seville, in its first canon quotes freely from the Athanasian Creed. As it does not quote the Creed accurately, some have suggested that both are quoting from a common origin. That this is not the case is indicated by internal evidence in the canon itself, namely, the fact that the clauses of the ‘Quicunque’ referred to are quoted in their proper sequence of verses. Besides this there are two phrases in the canon which are peculiar to the Creed:
(a) The expression ‘pro nostra salute’, as connected with the Passion. In the Nicene Creed it is ‘propter salutem nostram’, and is connected with the Incarnation.
(b) The other is the phrase ‘descendit ad inferos’, the last word almost peculiar to the ‘Quicunque’ and the fourth Council of Toledo, for in the Apostles’ Creed in the seventh century we have ‘in inferna’, ‘ad infernum’, and ‘ad inferna’. But the only MS. of the Apostles’ Creed with ‘ad inferos’ is the Irish eighth century Antiphonary of Bangor, now in the Ambrosian Library at Milan.
vi. In the sixth century we have the ‘Epistola Canonica’, which appears to be an episcopal charge containing a collection of canons or capitula which refer to the duties of the clergy. The first of these is as follows: ‘First of all, let all presbyters, deacons or sub-deacons learn by heart (memoriter teneant) the Catholic Faith (fidem catholicam), and if any one neglect to do this, let him abstain from wine for forty days; but if after this abstinence he neglect to commit it to memory, let the sentence be repeated.’ The Ballerini assign the Epistola Canonica to the sixth century, and to the north of Italy.1
1Ommaney, pp. 47–52.
vii. Then we have two sermons on the Apostles’ Creed which seem to incorporate phrases of the ‘Quicunque’. The first was at one time published among the works of S. Augustine, but is now attributed without doubt to S. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles (502–542)1 The other is perhaps a little earlier, and appears in three places to borrow language from the ‘Quicunque’.2
1S. Aug. Migne, P. L. xxxix. col. 2194.
2Caspari, Anecdota, p. 283.
viii. Lastly, in a fragment on the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, by Avitus, Bishop of Vienne (490–518), written against the Arian King Gundobad, we find the language of the Athanasian Creed in regard to the Holy Ghost quoted as a recognised authority.
In the first passage we find these words: ‘Who, we read, is neither made nor begotten, nor created’ – the words of v. 22 of the Creed; and a little further on: ‘We say that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son and the Father’; and again, in another fragment of the same book, Avitus refers to some formulated Confession of the Catholic Faith as teaching the doctrine of the double procession in these words: ‘Inasmuch as it belonged to the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father and the Son, the Catholic Faith, even though it may not have persuaded those who deny it, nevertheless does not depart from this in the rule of its teaching.’
Burn also points to parallels with vv. 3, 4, and 32.1
1Burn, pp. 150, 151.
It would seem almost without doubt that the ‘Quicunque’ is referred to by Avitus, for the ‘filioque’ had not been inserted in the Constantinopolitan Creed so early as the beginning of the sixth century, and we know of no other Rule of Faith which contained it, excepting the Athanasian Creed. Here, then, we reach our goal. Avitus, who became Bishop of Vienne in 490, seems to quote from our Creed as a recognised authority, which of course implies that it had already been written and known for some time. For this reason writers like Waterland of old, and in our own day Burn, Ommaney, and Kattenbusch, assign this Creed to the first half of the fifth century, from the external evidence derived from documents which refer to it or quote it.
II. We have now to investigate the internal evidence afforded by the Creed itself. An examination of the terminology of the Creed shows an acquaintance with or relation to the works of S. Augustine and the Commonitorium of S. Vincent of Lerins.
i. In the division of the Creed which treats of the Holy Trinity, as well as in that which defines the Incarnation of our Lord, the phrases used bear a strong resemblance to the language of S. Augustine. Waterland1 has gathered these passages into parallel columns with the corresponding passages in the Athanasian Creed, and finds in the works of S. Augustine parallels for vv. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, and 40. Thus, of the forty verses of which the Creed is composed, Waterland has paralleled all but eleven – the omitted verses being 3, 5, 7, 11, 25, 26, 30, 36, 37, 38, and 39. Some of these parallels, too, are extremely close, e.g. verses 13, 14, 15, 16, which we subjoin:
1Waterland, Works, vol. iv. pp. 270–281.
13. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
13. And so the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, the Holy Ghost Almighty.
14. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.
14. Nevertheless, they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. (Aug., De Trin. V. viii. 9.)
15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.
15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. (Ibid.VIII. i.)
16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
16. And yet, not three Gods, but one God. (Ibid. lib. VIII. c. i. 1.) Cf. Ibid. lib. V. viii. 9; et Ibid. I. v. 8.
It is quite evident from these parallels either that the author of the Creed was very familiar with the writings of S. Augustine and quoted from them, or that S. Augustine was acquainted with the Creed and quoted from it. We believe Kattenbusch is alone in thinking that the latter is not entirely impossible.
Besides the parallels we have pointed out in the doctrinal statements of S. Augustine there is also a somewhat striking parallel in the Article on our Lord’s descent. The Athanasian Creed reads ‘ad inferos’, which is also found in S. Augustine. We have just noted in connection with the fourth Council of Toledo that ‘ad inferos’ is not the ordinary Symbolic expression used in the seventh century. There is also in the Creed a remarkable idiomatic use of the verb ‘habere’ in v. 38, ‘Ad cujus adventum omnes homines resurgere habent,’ which is a distinctly Augustinian idiom. Ommaney points out that it occurs no less than fourteen times in S. Augustine’s sermons alone.
ii. Another writer with whom the author of the Creed seems to have been very familiar is S. Vincent of Lerins. We find parallels in his Commonitorium to vv. 3, 4, 5, 29, and 30.
If, then, the author of the Creed was acquainted with the works both of S. Augustine and the Commonitorium of S. Vincent, the latter written in the year 434, unless S. Vincent himself were the author of the Creed, this date would seem to be for us the ‘terminus a quo’.
There are, however, two more points to be noticed in regard to the internal evidence furnished by the Creed itself.
iii. One of its most striking characteristics is its emphatic witness against Nestorianism. It insists upon the unity of our Lord’s Person. This is repeated no less than four times in vv. 32, 33, 34, and 35, and would seem to be directed against the Nestorian heresy, which taught that there were two Christs; for that in Him were two Persons, as well as two natures.
iv. On the other hand, while there are statements which can be used against Eutychianism, e.g. vv. 30, 34, and 35, yet the Creed does not bear the marks of being directed against this heresy to the same extent that it is directed against Nestorianism. The very illustration used in v. 35 (‘For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one Man, so God and Man is one Christ’) is an evidence of this; for while it is found in S. Vincent of Lerins and S. Cyril of Alexandria, used against Nestorianism, and is also found with some slight change of words in S. Augustine, yet it was avoided by Catholic writers, or used with caution, after the rise of Eutychianism, on account of the possibility of its misapplication by Eutychians. These last two considerations would lead us to suppose that the Creed must have been drawn up after the Council of Ephesus, 431, in which Nestorianism was condemned, and before the rise of Eutychianism, which was condemned at Chalcedon in 451.
We may therefore sum up the internal evidence afforded by the Creed by saying that it points to very much the same date as the external evidence of documents in which the Creed was quoted or referred to, namely, the first half of the fifth century. Beyond this all is uncertain, each writer contributing his guess: Harvey suggesting Victricius; Ommaney, Vincentius; Burn, Honoratus; Waterland, Hilary of Arles; and Dom Morin, Caesarius of Arles.
III. We must not, however, pass over the theories of an altogether opposite school of writers, who assign the Creed to the ninth century and regard it as a composite document. Gerard J. Voss was the first who placed it in the ninth century, but after his controversy with Ussher he retracted the date some two centuries. Among later writers Swainson, who was followed by Lumby, places the date of the Creed in the early half of the ninth century, and considers it to be a composite document made up of two parts: the earlier (vv. 1–26) he regards as an exposition of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the later (vv. 27–40) as an entirely separate Christological treatise. The arguments for this view are well summed up by Lumby as follows:1
1Lumby, History of the Creeds, p. 259.
i. Before 809 there is no trustworthy notice of any Confession called by the name of S. Anthanasius.
ii. Before that date two separate compositions existed which formed the ground-work of the present ‘Quicunque’.
iii. That for some time after that date all quotations are made only from the former of these compositions.
iv. That the ‘Quicunque’ was not known down to 813 to those who are most likely to have heard of it, had it been in existence.
v. That it was found nearly as we use it in 870.
vi. A comparison of the various MSS. shows that after the combination of the two parts the text was for some time in an unsettled or transient state.
These conclusions are of course inconsistent with the authorities we have considered, and they are reached only by disputing the date or authenticity of some of the documents we have quoted, and by explaining away the references to the Creed which we have found in other documents.
Harnack supports a somewhat different two-document theory, recognising, however, that the first part emanated from Gaul in the fifth century, but holding that the second part was not added till the ninth century. He considers the origin of this part obscure, though anterior to the ninth century.
Professor Loofs demolishes the two-document theory, but proposes another, that of accretion. He considers that the origin of the ‘Quicunque’ was a sermon on the Apostles’ Creed, which, after passing through many stages, was gradually polished into its present form, after which the name of ‘S. Athanasius’ was attached to it, but that it reached this completed form prior to the Council of Autun, i.e. in the first half of the seventh century. Dr. Loofs’ theory has received sufficient answer in Mr. Burn’s book, pp. 178–181.
IV. After the ninth century the Athanasian Creed passed rapidly into the Offices of the Church. Hayto, Bishop of Basle (c. 820), imposed upon his clergy not only the obligation of knowing it by heart, but of reciting it every Sunday at Prime; and Batiffol tells us that ‘In the eleventh century there was no part of the Church north of the Alps where the “Quicunque vult” was not recited at Prime at least every Sunday, and in most Churches not only on Sunday, but at Prime every day.’1 At this time it was also used in England, but the date at which it obtained recognition in the Office books at Rome is doubtful.
1Batiffol, History of the Roman Breviary, p. 192.
It has never been formally accepted by the Eastern Church, which recognises only one Symbol, that which is called the Nicene Creed. There have been, however, many Greek translations of the Athanasian Creed, and it finds a place in the Greek Horologion Magnum, not, however, as an authoritative Creed of the Church, but as a Confession of great value.
We learn from the writings of Leo Allatius (1659) that in the thirteenth century the Greeks accused the Latins of inserting into the Faith of the holy Athanasius, called the Catholic Faith, the words ‘and from the Son’, and it appears that a Greek version of the ‘Quicunque’ which did not contain this clause was known about the year 1200.
In England, before the Reformation, as evidenced by the Primer put forth by Hilsey, Bishop of Rochester (1539), the Athanasian Creed was said daily in the public service of the Church, a practice which seems to have been peculiar to England. In the first English Prayer Book (1549) this daily recitation was diminished to the six great Festivals of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, and Trinity. In the second Prayer Book of 1552 the seven Feasts of S. Matthias, S. John the Baptist, S. James, S. Bartholomew, S. Matthew, SS. Simon and Jude, and S. Andrew were added; and thus the rubric has remained through all subsequent editions of the Prayer Book, so that the Athanasian Creed is ordered to be recited in the Church of England thirteen times a year.
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