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History of the Christian Church, Volume III: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 311-600.
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§ 129. The Nicene and Constantinopolitan Creed.


We look now at the Creeds of Nicaea and Constantinople side by side, which sum up the result of these long controversies. We mark the differences by inclosing in brackets the parts of the former omitted by the latter, and italicizing the additions which the latter makes to the former.


The Nicene Creed of 32514301430    It is found, together with the similar Eusebian (Palestinian) confession, in the well-known Epistle of Eusebius of Caesarea to his diocese (Epist. ad suae parochiae homines), which is given by Athanasius at the close of his Epist. de decretis Nicaenae Synodi (Opera, tom. i. p. 239, and in Thilo’s Bibl. vol. i. p. 84 sq.); also, though with some variation by Theodoret, H. E. i. 12, and Socrates, H. E. i. 8. Sozomen omitted it (H. E. i. 10) from respect to the disciplina arcani. The Symbolum Nicaenum is given also, with unessential variations, by Athanasius in his letter to the emperor Jovian c. 3, and by Gelasius Cyzic., Lib. Synod. de Concil. Nicaeno, ii. 36. On the unimportant variations in the text, Comp. Walch, Bibl. symbol. p. 75 sqq., and A. Rahn, Bibliothek der Symbole, 1842. Comp. also the parallel Creeds of the Nicene age in the Appendix to Pearson’s Exposition of the Creed.

the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 38114311431    Found in the Acts of the second ecumenical council in all the collections (Mansi, tom. iii. 566; Harduin, i. 814). It probably does not come directly from this council still less from the individual authorship of Gregory of Nyssa or Gregory of Nazianzum to whom it has sometimes been ascribed, but the additions by which it is distinguished from the Nicene, were already extant in substance under different forms (in the Symbolum Epiphanii, for example, and the Sym b. Basilii Magni), and took shape gradually in the course of the controversy. It is striking that it is not mentioned as distinct from the Nicene by Gregory Nazianzen in his Epist. 102 to Cledonius (tom. ii. 93 ed. Paris 1842), nor by the third ecumenical council at Ephesus. On the other hand, it was twice recited at the council of Chalcedon, twice adopted in the acts, and thus solemnly sanctioned. Comp. Hefele, ii. 11, 12.


Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν πατέρα παντοκράτορα, πάντων ὁρατῶν τε καὶ ἀοράτων ποιητήν

Πιστεύομεν εἰς ἕνα Θεὸν, πατέρα παντοκράτορα, ποιητὴν οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς, ὁρατῶν τε πάντων καὶ ἀοράτων.

Καὶ εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ· γεννηθέντα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς [μονογενῆ· τοῦτ ̓ἔστιν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ πατρὸς· Θεὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ καὶ14321432   Καὶ is wanting in Athanasius (De decretis, etc,). ] φῶς ἐκ φωτὸς, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ· γεννηθεντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ πατρὶ· δι ̓ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο [τά τε ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ τὰ ἐν τῇ γῇ·] τὸν δι ̓ ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν κατελθόντα καὶ σαρκωθέντα, καὶ 14331433   Καὶ is wanting in Athanasius; Socrates and Galerius have it. ἐνανθρωπήσαντα· παθόντα14341434   Gelasius adds ταφέντα, buried. καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, ἀνελθόντα εἰς τοὺς14351435   Without the article in Athanasius. οὐρανοὺς,14361436   Al. καί. ἐρχόμενον κρίναι ξῶντας καὶ νεκρους.

Καὶ εἰς ἕνα κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ· τὸν ἐκ τοῦ πατρός γεννηθέντα πρὸ πάντων τῶν αἰώνων· φῶς ἐκ φωτὸς, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀληθινοῦ, γεννηθέντα, οὐ ποιηθέντα, ὁμοούσιον τῷ πατρὶ· δι ̓ οὗ τὰ πάντα ἐγένετο· 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· σταυρωθέντα τε ὑπέρ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, καὶ παθόντα, καὶ ταφέντα, καὶ ἀναστάντα τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς, καὶ ἀνελθόντα εἰς τούς οὐρανοὺς, καὶ καθεζόμενον ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ πατρὸς, καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον μετὰ δόξης κρίναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκροὺς· οὗ τῆς βασιλείας οὐκ ἔσται τέλος.

Καὶ εἰς τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα.

Καὶ εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἂγιον, τὸ κύριον, τὸ ζωοποιὸν, τὸ ἐκ τοῦ πα-τρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, τὸ σὺν πατρὶ καὶ υἱῷ προσκυνούμενον καὶ συνδοξαζόμενον, τὸ λαλῆσαν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν. Εἰς μίαν ἁγίαν καθολικὴν καὶ ἀποστολικὴν ἐκ-κλησίαν· ὁμολογοῦμεν ἓν βάπτισμα εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν· προσδοκ-ῶμεν ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν καὶ ζωὴν τοῦ μέλλοντος αἰῶνος. Ἀμήν.

̓́Τοὺς δὲ λέγοντας, ὅτι 14371437   Athanasius omits ὅτι. ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν· καὶ· πρὶν γεννηθῆναι οὐκ ἦν· καὶ ὅτι ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων ἐγένετο· ἢ ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας14381438   Here hypostasis and essence are still used interchangeably; though Basil and Bull endeavor to prove a distinction. Comp. on the contrary, Petavius, De trinit. l. iv. c. 1 (p. 314 sqq.). Rufinus, i. 6, translates: “Ex alia subsistentia aut substantia.” φάσκοντας εἶναι· ἢ κτιστὸν, ἢ τρεπτὸν, ἢ ἀλλοιωτὸν τὸν υἰὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ· ἀναθεματίζει ἡ ἁγία καθολικὴ καὶ ἀποστολικὴ14391439   Athanasius omits ἁγία and ἀποστολική. Theodoret has both predicates, Socrates has ἀποστολική, all read καθολική. ἐκκλησία. ̓̀̓̀

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 in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten, i.e., of the essence of the Father, God of God, and] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made [in heaven and on earth]; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; he suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; from thence he cometh to judge the quick and the dead.

“And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds ( aeons ), 14401440   This addition appears as early as the creeds of the council of Antioch in 341. Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven , and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary , and was made man; 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 sitteth on the right hand of the Father ; from thence he cometh again, with glory , to judge the quick and the dead ; whose kingdom shall have no end . 14411441   This addition likewise is found substantially in the Antiochian creeds of 341, and is directed against Marcellus of Ancyra, Sabellius, and Paul of Samosata, who taught that the union of the power of God (ἐνέργεια δραστική) with the man Jesus will cease at the end of the world, so that the Son and His kingdom are not eternal Comp. Hefele, i. 438 and 507 sq.


“And in the Holy Ghost.

“And in the Holy Ghost, who is Lord and Giver of life, who pro-ceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets. In one holy catholic and apostolic church, we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look fo r the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen . 14421442   Similar additions concerning the Holy Ghost, the catholic church, baptism and life everlasting are found in the older symbols of Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil, and the two Creeds of Epiphanius. See § 128 above, and Appendix to Pearson on the Creed, p. 594 ff.


[“And 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 out of another substance or thing, or the Son of God is created, or changeable, or alterable; they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.” ]


A careful comparison shows that the Constantinopolitan Creed is a considerable improvement on the Nicene, both in its omission of the anathema at the close, and in its addition of the articles concerning the Holy Ghost and concerning the church and the way of salvation. The addition: according to the Scriptures, is also important, as an acknowledgment of this divine and infallible guide to the truth. The whole is more complete and symmetrical than the Nicaenum, and in this respect is more like the Apostles’ Creed, which, in like manner, begins with the creation and ends with the resurrection and the life everlasting, and is disturbed by no polemical dissonance; but the Apostles’ Creed is much more simple in structure, and thus better adapted to the use of a congregation and of youth, than either of the others.

The Constantinopolitan Creed maintained itself for a time by the side of the Nicene, and after the council of Chalcedon in 451, where it was for the first time formally adopted, it gradually displaced the other. Since that time it has itself commonly borne the name of the Nicene Creed. Yet the original Nicene confession is still in use in some schismatic sects of the Eastern church.

The Latin church adopted the improved Nicene symbol from the Greek, but admitted, in the article on the Holy Ghost, the further addition of the well-known filioque, which was first inserted at a council of Toledo in 589, and subsequently gave rise to bitter disputes between the two



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