First Council of Nicaea

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

First Council of Nicaea, 325, 1st ecumenical council, convened by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great to solve the problems raised by Arianism. It has been said that 318 persons attended, but a more likely number is 225, including every Eastern bishop of importance, four Western bishops (among them Hosius of Córdoba, president of the council), and two papal legates. The chief figures at the council were Arius and his opponent, Athanasius. The council adopted, as a test of faith, a formula that seems to have been based on a simple baptismal creed presented possibly by Eusebius of Caesarea; this was not, however, the creed generally circulated today as the Nicene Creed (see creed). The formula included the Greek word homoousion [consubstantial], which was used concerning the Son and the Father. The word, suggested probably by Hosius, became the touchstone of orthodoxy and the bugbear of Arianism, for it established the divinity and the equality of the Son to the Father. The creed was accepted by all the bishops except two, who were banished along with Arius to Illyricum. The council ruled on other questions as well, attempting to standardize the date of Easter and granting patriarchal authority to the bishop of Alexandria. The First Council of Nicaea was significant as the model and the original of great councils. The test it adopted provided a universal statement of faith in place of the earlier and varying baptismal formulas.

views updated

Nicaea, Council of. The first ecumenical council of the Christian Church, held in 325. The site is modern Iznik in NW Turkey. It was an assembly of bishops called by the emperor Constantine to deal with the Arian controversy and secure the unity of the church in the East. A creed was promulgated by the council which contained the homoousion formula and to which anti-Arian anathemas were attached. The council also promulgated canons and reached decisions on the Melitian schism in Egypt, the calculation of the date of Easter, and the precedence of the major Christian sees. See also NICENE CREED.