Reply To: What is The Athanasian Creed?

Home Forums Everything Else What is The Athanasian Creed? Reply To: What is The Athanasian Creed?

#6788
Anonymous
Inactive

[color=blue:10tj8auq]This what I found out about the Creed,so it could be Catholic or anybody’s[/color:10tj8auq]

One of the symbols of the Faith approved by the Church and given a place in her liturgy, is a short, clear exposition of the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, with a passing reference to several other dogmas. Unlike most of the other creeds, or symbols, it deals almost exclusively with these two fundamental truths, which it states and restates in terse and varied forms so as to bring out unmistakably the trinity of the Persons of God, and the twofold nature in the one Divine Person of Jesus Christ. At various points the author calls attention to the penalty incurred by those who refuse to accept any of the articles therein set down. The following is the Marquess of Bute’s English translation of the text of the Creed:
For the past two hundred years the authorship of this summary of Catholic Faith and the time of its appearance have furnished an interesting problem to ecclesiastical antiquarians. Until the seventeenth century, the “Quicunque vult”, as it is sometimes called, from its opening words, was thought to be the composition of the great Archbishop of Alexandria whose name it bears. In the year 1644, Gerard Voss, in his “De Tribus Symbolis”, gave weighty probability to the opinion that St. Athanasius was not its author. His reasons may be reduced to the two following:
firstly, no early writer of authority speaks of it as the work of this doctor; and
secondly, its language and structure point to a Western, rather than to an Alexandrian, origin.
Most modern scholars agree in admitting the strength of these reasons, and hence this view is the one generally received today. Whether the Creed can be ascribed to St. Athanasius or not, and most probably it cannot, it undoubtedly owes it existence to Athanasian influences, for the expressions and doctrinal colouring exhibit too marked a correspondence, in subject-matter and in phraseology, with the literature of the latter half of the fourth century and especially with the writings of the saint, to be merely accidental. These internal evidences seem to justify the conclusion that it grew out of several provincial synods, chiefly that of Alexandria, held about the year 361, and presided over by St. Athanasius. It should be said, however, that these arguments have failed to shake the conviction of some Catholic authors, who refuse to give it an earlier origin than the fifth century.
An elaborate attempt was made in England, in 1871, by E.C. Ffoulkes to assign the Creed to the ninth century. From a passing remark in a letter written by Alcuin he constructed the following remarkable piece of fiction. The Emperor Charlemagne, he says, wished to consolidate the Western Empire by a religious, as well as a political, separation from the East. To this end he suppressed the Nicene Creed, dear to the Oriental Church, and substituted a formulary composed by Paulinus of Aquileia, with whose approval and that of Alcuin, a distinguished scholar of the time, he ensured its ready acceptance by the people, by affixing to it the name of St. Athanasius. This gratuitous attack upon the reputation of men whom every worthy historian regards as incapable of such a fraud, added to the undoubted proofs of the Creed’s having been in use long before the ninth century, leaves this theory without any foundation.

Who, then, is the author? The results of recent inquiry make it highly probable that the Creed first saw the light in the fourth century, during the life of the great Eastern patriarch, or shortly after his death. It has been attributed by different writers variously to St. Hilary, to St. Vincent of L?©rins, to Eusebius of Vercelli, to Vigilius, and to others. It is not easy to avoid the force of the objections to all of these views, however, as they were men of world-wide reputation, and hence any document, especially one of such importance as a profession of faith, coming from them would have met with almost immediate recognition. Now, no allusions to the authorship of the Creed, and few even to its existence, are to be found in the literature of the Church for over two hundred years after their time. We have referred to a like silence in proof of non-Athanasian authorship. It seems to be similarly available in the case of any of the great names mentioned above. In the opinion of Father Sidney Smith, S.J., which the evidence just indicated renders plausible, the author of this Creed must have been some obscure bishop or theologian whose composed it, in the first instance, for purely local use in some provincial diocese. Not coming from an author of wide reputation, it would have attracted little attention. As it became better known, it would have been more widely adopted, and the compactness and lucidity of its statements would have contributed to make it highly prized wherever it was known. Then would follow speculation as to its author, and what wonder, if, from the subject-matter of the Creed, which occupied the great Athanasius so much, his name was first affixed to it and, unchallenged, remained.