Apostles' Creed

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The creedal statements used in the Western Churches for instructing catechumens had been almost invariably versions of the old Roman Creed. Rufinus of Aquileia had given evidence of the existence of a creed attributed to the Apostles at Rome and Aquileia in the late 4th century. An almost identical creed was used at Milan in catechetical instruction; its text can be reconstructed from three sermons of Augustine (212; 213; and 214) and from the Explanatio Symboli attributed to Ambrose. Six sermons (57 to 62) of peter chrysologus, Bishop of Ravenna (431 to 450), and a homily of maximus of turin (Hom. 83 de trad. symb. ) make reference to the creeds used in their respective sees. nicetas of remesiana (c. 335 to 414) provided the formula of faith used in the Balkan area (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 52: 84776). Quodvultdeus of Carthage (c. 437) is credited with the sermon preserving the African creedal formulary [G. Morin, Revue Bénedictine 31 (1914) 15635 (1923) 233]. Priscillian (d. 385) quotes the creed used at Avila in Spain (Tract. 2), and a 6th-century Spanish creed has been reconstructed from the works of Martin of Braga (De correct. rust. ), Ildefonsus of Toledo (De cognit. bapt. 36), and the Ad Elipandum epistula (1.22). Finally, three Gallic creeds are attributed to Faustus of Riez (c. 458 to 477), Caesarius of Arles (502 to 542), and Cyprian of Toulon (516 to 546). All these creeds have the Roman Creed as foundation and differ from it only in minor variations.

The so-called textus receptus of the Apostles' Creed is provided by Pirminius of Reichenau in his Scarap sus (chapter 10; 12; 28), or handbook of Christian doctrine, written between 710 and 724. It is likewise preserved in the 7th-or 8th-century Missal of Bobbio; in the Antiphonary of Bangor, written by Comgall between 680 and 689; and in the so-called Missale Gallicanum Vetus of the early 8th century, written probably in Auxerre, Gaul. St. Fructuosus of Braga (d. 665) assigned the Apostles' Creed a place in Compline; Benedict of Aniane (d. 821) and Amalarius of Metz ordered it to be said before Matins and Prime and after Compline. These considerations lead to the conclusion that the textus receptus had its origin in southern Gaul rather than at Rome.

The Carolingian reforms centered on the religious instruction of both clergy and laity, and at the basis was a knowledge of the Apostles' Creed and an ability to explain it. The text of this creed was likewise incorporated into the Carolingian psalters. However, it did not replace the Constantinopolitan Creed in Rome until the late 10th or early 11th century, when, as gregory vii said, "Teutonicis concessum est regimen nostrae ecclesiae" (The government of our Church has been surrendered to the Germans"; G. Morin, Anecd. Mared. 2.1:460), testifying to the reforms introduced into the liturgy as well as administration of the Roman Church by the northern Europeans. By the pontificate of innocent iii (d. 1216) the textus receptus of the Apostles' Creed was universally acknowledged in the West as the official creed of the Church and was commented on as such by Thomas Aquinas (Exp. super symb. Apost. ). At the Council of Florence in 1438, however, Mark eugenicus shocked the Western prelates by claiming that he had never heard of it (Harduin, Act. conc. 9.842E843A). But it was recognized as a basic statement of Christian belief by Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli during the Reformation. It was put forward by the Anglicans at the Lambeth Conference of 1920, and at the World Conference of Faith and Order in 1927 as a basis on which the unity of the Church might be erected.

Bibliography: h. denzinger and a. schÖnmetzer, Enchiridion Symbolorum (36d ed. Herder, 1976).

[f. x. murphy/eds.]