Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter III. He refutes his opponent by the testimony of the Council of Antioch.
He refutes his opponent by the testimony of the Council of Antioch.
Therefore since we have, as I fancy, already in all the former books with the weight of sacred testimonies, given a complete answer to the heretic who denies God, now let us come to the faith of the Creed of Antioch and its value. For as he 2547 was himself baptized and regenerated in this, he ought to be confuted by his own profession, and (so to speak) to be crushed beneath the weight of his own arms, for this is the method, that as he is already convicted by the evidence of holy Scripture, so now he may be convicted by evidence out of his own mouth. Nor will there be any need to bring anything else to bear against him when he has clearly and plainly convicted himself. The text then and the faith of the Creed of Antioch is this. 2548 “I believe in one and the only true God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, and the first-born of every creature, begotten of Him before all worlds, and not made: Very God of Very God, Being of one substance with the Father: By whom both the worlds were framed, and all things were made. Who for us came, and was born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried: and the third day He rose again according to the Scripture: and ascended into heaven, and shall come again to judge the quick and the dead,” etc. 2549 In the Creed which gives the faith of all the Churches, I should like to know which you would rather follow, the authority of men or of God? Though I would not press hardly or unkindly upon you, but give the opportunity of choosing whichever alternative you please, that accepting one, I may deny the other: for I will grant you and yield to you either of them. And what do I grant, I ask? I will force you to one or other even against your will. For you ought, if you like, to understand of your own free will that one or other of these is in the Creed: if you dont like it, you must be forced against your will to see it. For, as you know, a Creed (Symbolum) gets its name from being a “collection.” 2550 For what is called in Greek σύμβολος is termed in Latin “Collatio.” But it is therefore a collection (collatio) because when the faith of the whole Catholic law was collected together by the apostles of the Lord, all those matters which are spread over the whole body of the sacred writings with immense fulness of detail, were collected together in sum in the matchless brevity of the Creed, according to the Apostles words: “Completing His word, and cutting it short in righteousness: because a short word shall the Lord make upon the earth.” 2551 This then is the “short word” which the Lord made, collecting together in few words the faith of both of His Testaments, and including in a few brief clauses the drift of all the Scriptures, building up His own out of His own, and giving the force of the whole law in a most compendious p. 593 and brief formula. Providing in this, like a most tender father, for the carelessness and ignorance of some of his children, that no mind however simple and ignorant might have any trouble over what could so easily be retained in the memory.
Nestorius, who had belonged to the monastery of St. Euprepius near the gate of Antioch before his elevation to the see of Constantinople.592:2548
This creed is plainly given by Cassian as the baptismal formula of the Church of Antioch; and with almost verbally a fragment of the Creed preserved in a Contestatio comparing Nestorius to Paul of Samosata (a.d. 429, or 430) which is said by Leontius to have been the work of Eusebius afterward Bishop of Dorylæum. The form is especially interesting as showing that the Creed of Antioch, in common with several other Eastern Creeds, underwent revision, probably about the middle of the fourth century, from the desire to enrich the local creed with Nicene phraseology. The insertions which are obviously due to the Creed of Nicæa are: non factum, Deum verum ex Deo vero, homoousion patri, or as they would run in the original οὐ ποιηθέντα, Θεὸν ἀληθινὸν ἐκ Θεοῦ ἀλιθινοῦ, ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρι, and it has been suggested that they were probably introduced at the Synod held at Antioch under Meletius in 363. Similar forms of local creeds thus enlarged by the adoption of Nicene phraseology are (1) that of Jerusalem as given by Cyril in his Catechetical Lectures, (2) the Creed of Cappadocia, (3) that of Mesopotamia, and (4) the “Creed of Charisius” preserved in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus (Mansi IV. 1348). On all of these see Dr. Horts “Two Dissertations,” p. 110 sq.
Another interesting feature in the Creed as given by Cassian is that it was in the singular “Credo,” I believe; whereas the Eastern Creeds are almost all in the plural πιστεύομεν. That however which is found in the Apostolical Constitutions (VII. xli.) has the singular πιστεύω καὶ βαπτίζομαι, and therefore it is possible that Cassian may have preserved the original form here. It is however more probable that the singular Credo is due to a reminiscence of the form current in the Western church, which has influenced the translation. See further Hahns Bibliothek des Symbole p. 64 sq.592:2549
Cassian nowhere quotes the last section of the Creed of Antioch, as it did not concern the question at issue. A few clauses of it may however be recovered from S. Chrysostoms Homilies (In 1 Cor. Hom. xl. § 2); viz., καὶ εἰς ἁμαρτιῶν ἂφεσιν καὶ εἰς νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν καὶ εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.592:2550
Symbolus, or more commonly and correctly Symbolum (= σύμβολον) is the general name for the creed in the ancient church, met with from the days of Cyprian (who uses it more than once, e.g., Ep. lxix.) onwards. In the account which Cassian gives in the text of the origin of the name he is certainly copying Rufinus (whose exposition of the Apostles Creed is directly quoted by him below in Book VII. c. xxvii.). The passage which Cassian evidently has in his mind is the following: “Moreover for many and excellent reasons they determined that it should be called Symbolum. For Symbolum in Greek may mean both Indicium (a token) and collatio (a collection), that is, that which several bring together into one; for the apostles effected this in these sentences by bringing together into one what each thought good.…Therefore being about to depart to preach, the apostles appointed that token of their unanimity and faith.” (Ruf. De Symb. § 2). Cf. also § 1. “In these words there is truly discovered the prophecy which says: Completing His work and cutting it short in righteousness, because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” This explanation, however, of the origin of the term labours under the fatal mistake of confusing two distinct Greek words, συμβολή, a “collection,” and σύμβολον, a “watchword:” and the true explanation of the word is probably that which Rufinus gives as an alternative, which gives it the meaning of “watchword.” It was the watchword of the Christian soldier, carefully and jealously guarded by him, as that by which he could himself be distinguished from heretics, and that for which he could challenge others of whose orthodoxy he might be in doubt.592:2551
Rom. ix. 28.
Next: Chapter IV. How the Creed has authority Divine as well as human.
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