Nicene Creed

views updated May 29 2018


A profession of faith agreed upon, although with some misgivings because of its non-biblical terminology, by the bishops at nicaea i (325) to defend the true faith against arianism. It is basically a baptismal creed of Syro-Palestinian origin into which have been interpolated anti-Arian clauses, including the word homoousios (at the urging of Hosius of Córdoba and constantine i), and to which have been appended four anathemas. Structurally, the creed (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum 125, 126) is a brief, tripartite Trinitarian statement, stressing the consubstantiality of the Son, His incarnation, redeeming death, and resurrection. It concludes simply with "and in the Holy Spirit" followed by the anathemas that condemn typical Arian slogans oft repeated in arius's Thalia, e.g., "There was when He was not." Though scholars previously maintained that the Creed of eusebius of caesarea was the model of the Nicene, it is now generally admitted that Eusebius's creedal profession at Nicaea I was motivated by his desire for rehabilitation and was not intended to be a proposal of a basis for a conciliar creed.

The first witness to what is popularly known as the Nicene Creed, sometimes called the Niceno-Constantinople Creed (Enchiridion symbolorum 150), is found in the acts of the Council of chalcedon (451). Herein the Niceno-Constantinople Creed is attributed to the bishops of constantinople i (381), whose amplification of the Nicene produced the Niceno-Constantinople. But careful literary analysis reveals the impossibility of the latter's dependence on the former. There are significant omissions in the Niceno-Constantinople, while there are also additions doctrinally insignificant in light of the errors of the day, together with minor differences in word order and sentence structure pointlessly made if the Nicene-Constantinople is the Nicene expanded. Furthermore, the Niceno-Constantinople contains longer sections on the Person of Christ and the Holy Spirit, as well as articles concerning belief in the Church, baptism, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life. The majority of scholars until recently either denied any connection of the Niceno-Constantinople with Constantinople I or opted for a purely accidental association through supposed creedal professions made by cyril of jerusalem or Nectarius at the Council. For those adhering to the traditional explanation of the Niceno-Constantinople Creed's connection with the second ecumenical Council, the creed found in Epiphanius of Constantia's Ancoratus (374) would surely be the Niceno-Constantinople's paradigm did not some scholars with good reason suppose that the Nicene, rather than the Niceno-Constantinople, stood in the text. The antinomies seem best resolved by the fact that before Chalcedon, creeds other than the Nicene were referred to as Nicene because of their basic fidelity in doctrine to the Nicene. Thus Constantinople I may be said to have adopted and promulgated the Niceno-Constantinople, already in existence in the baptismal liturgy, not as a new creed or as the Nicene literally expanded, but as the Nicene faith in substance, better adapted to combat the errors of the day.

The Niceno-Constantinople's recitation at the Eucharist began apparently at Antioch under the Monophysite Patriarch Peter the Fuller (d. 488); its use in the West dates from the third Council of toledo (589), when possibly the filioque was inserted. The Niceno-Constantinople's place in the Roman liturgy is due to the efforts of Emperor henry ii, who persuaded Pope benedict viii to enjoin its recitation on Sundays and on feasts of which mention is made in the Creed.

See Also: creed; generation of the word; logos; word, the.

Bibliography: i. ortiz de urbina, Nicée et Constantinople (Paris 1963). El símbolo niceno (Madrid 1947). j. n. d. kelly, Early Christian Creeds (London 1972) 205262. w. pannenburg and k. lehmann, eds., Glaubensbekenninis und Kirchengemeinschaf Das Modell des Konzils von Konstantinopel (381) (Freiburg 1982). Confessing the One Faith. An Ecumenical Explication of the Apostolic Faith as it is Confessed in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (Faith and Order Paper No. 153; Geneva 1991).

[t. ryan]

Nicene Creed

views updated May 23 2018

Nicene Creed Statement of Christian faith named after the First Council of Nicaea (ad 325). Its exact origin is uncertain. The Nicene Creed defends the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity against the Arian heresy. It is subscribed to by all Christian Churches and is used in the celebrations of the Eucharist. See also Apostles' Creed; Athanasian Creed

Nicene Creed

views updated May 18 2018

Nicene Creed. A Christian statement of faith used in both E. and W.

Although it contains the homoousion, the creed does not originate from the council of Nicaea, nor probably from the later council of Constantinople (381) as traditionally held. It was, however, current as part of the eucharist by the 5th cent. All liturgical churches now use it.

Nicene Creed

views updated Jun 27 2018

Nicene Creed a formal statement of Christian belief which is very widely used in Christian liturgies, based on that adopted at the first Council of Nicaea in 325.