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But Wait, There’s More!

Council Constantinople I
Council Constantinople I

As I indicated, the Creed at Nicaea concluded “We believe in the Holy Spirit”. Full stop.

So what we recite in church (if you do recite), although we call it the “Nicene Creed” – it isn’t.

Tradition has that at the Second Ecumenical Council, held in Constantinople in 381, the Nicene Creed was expanded:
“And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.
In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.”
But. It’s complicated.

As I understand it, we have no documents from that Council. Parts of what we are told originates there is accepted by some, and not by others.

[As an aside, referring back to my recent post on GAFCON and the explicit acceptance in their Jerusalem Declaration of four unspecified councils, exactly what is it that GAFCONites accept from the second ecumenical council, Constantinople I? Assuming, as everyone says I should, they are referring to the first four.]

The Council of Ephesus (431) not only reaffirmed the original 325 version of the Nicene Creed but declared (Canon 7) that “it is unlawful for any to bring forward, or to write, or to compose a different (ἑτέραν) Faith as a rival to that established by the holy Fathers assembled with the Holy Spirit in Nicaea.”

In fact the Council of Chalcedon (451) is the first to provide us with a text of the “Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed”.

Best guess is that the “Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed” is not an expansion of the Creed agreed to at Nicaea at all. The “Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed” appears to be a different creed that has been modified to give it some conformity to the one agreed to at Nicaea.

In the following chart [square brackets] indicates the sections of the 325 text that were omitted or moved in “381”, and italics indicate sections absent in the 325 text, added in “381”:

First Council of Nicea (325) First Council of Constantinople (381)
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God], Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;
By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; by whom all things were made;
Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father;
From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.
In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
[But those who say: ‘There was a time when he was not;’ and ‘He was not before he was made;’ and ‘He was made out of nothing,’ or ‘He is of another substance’ or ‘essence,’ or ‘The Son of God is created,’ or ‘changeable,’ or ‘alterable’—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]

Here are the texts in Greek:

First Council of Nicaea (325) First Council of Constantinople (381)
Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα θεὸν Πατέρα παντοκράτορα, πάντων ὁρατῶν τε και ἀοράτων ποιητήν. Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα θεὸν Πατέρα παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων.
Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς μονογενῆ, τοὐτέστιν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρός, θεὸν ἐκ θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί Καὶ εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων, φῶς ἐκ φωτός, θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί·
δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο, τά τε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο·
τὸν δι’ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα καὶ σαρκωθέντα καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα, τὸν δι’ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν καὶ σαρκωθέντα ἐκ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου καὶ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου καὶ ἐνανθρωπήσαντα,
παθόντα, καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, σταυρωθέντα τε ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, καὶ παθόντα καὶ ταφέντα, καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρα κατὰ τὰς γραφάς, καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, καὶ καθεζόμενον ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ Πατρός,
καὶ ἐρχόμενον κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς. καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον μετὰ δόξης κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς·
οὗ τῆς βασιλείας οὐκ ἔσται τέλος.
Καὶ εἰς τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα. Καὶ εἰς τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον, τὸ κύριον, (καὶ) τὸ ζῳοποιόν, τὸ ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, τὸ σὺν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ συμπροσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον, τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν. Εἰς μίαν, ἁγίαν, καθολικὴν καὶ ἀποστολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν· ὁμολογοῦμεν ἓν βάπτισμα εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν· προσδοκοῦμεν ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν, καὶ ζωὴν τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος. Ἀμήν.
Τοὺς δὲ λέγοντας, ὅτι ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν, καὶ πρὶν γεννηθῆναι οὐκ ἦν, καὶ ὅτι ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐγένετο, ἢ ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας φάσκοντας εἶναι, [ἢ κτιστόν,] τρεπτὸν ἢ ἀλλοιωτὸν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, [τούτους] ἀναθεματίζει ἡ καθολικὴ [καὶ ἀποστολικὴ] ἐκκλησία.

The “Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed” (“Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed”) in fact is the only creed accepted ecumenically [The Apostles and Athanasian Creeds are primarily Western].

*****

This is the twenty-first post in a series on the Creed.

The first is Apostles’ Creed.
The second is I believe in God.
The third is a source of the Apostles’ Creed.
The fourth is I believe in the Father.
The fifth is Handing over the Creed.
The sixth is I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son
The seventh is Don’t use the creed in worship
They eighth is Truly God truly human
The ninth is Conceived by the Holy Spirit
The tenth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 2)
The eleventh is Born of the Virgin Mary
The twelfth is Don’t use the creed in worship (part 3)
The thirteenth is Crucified under Pontius Pilate
The fourteenth is crucified
The fifteenth is Holy Saturday
This sixteenth is He descended to the dead
The seventeenth is on the third day he rose again
The eighteenth is Seated at the right hand of the Father
The nineteenth is Judge the living and the dead
The twentieth is I believe in the Holy Spirit

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5 Responses to But Wait, There’s More!

  1. Hmm I’m not sure where you are going with this but it is worth pointing out that the Creed, or Symbol of Faith as we have received it is part of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom which pre-dates The Council of Ephesus. It is also part of the Liturgy of St Mark which also pre-dates this council as well as being part of the Coptic Liturgies.

    And of course it is integral to Western Liturgies albeit it with the Filioque inserted.

    All of which points to an early and widespread adoption of this creed in the form we have received it – suggesting the tradition of its origin as transmitted by the Church is correct and as is usual “modern scholars” are talking …….

    • Thanks, for your comment Andrei. I am not sure where you are going with this. If the essence of your point is that all ““modern scholars” are talking ……” then I think the uncritical acceptance of all “ancient scholars” is at least as mistaken as the uncritical acceptance of all “modern scholars”. Blessings.

  2. Like Andrei, I see no particular reason to doubt that the second council wrote a creed substantively the same as what we now use, but no creed was part of St. John Chrysostom’s Liturgy in his time. The Liturgy has changed quite a bit since then; for example, until the Studite reforms early in the 2nd millennium, it began with the Little Entrance. The antiphons were added based on the monastic practice of preceding Liturgy with Typica. The Anaphora is the one part that definitely is St. John’s.

    • Thanks. I am not surprised, Peter, at your point that the creed was not present in his liturgy at the time of St. John Chrysostom. I did not have time to be sure of that when I replied. Blessings.

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