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The “Textus Receptus” can, with a satisfactory degree of certainty, be traced back, except in certain minute details, to the beginning of the sixth, or to the end of the fifth century. But there is a strong 6probability that this form of the symbol was not previously in official use in any church, whether as a part of the Interrogationes de fide or the Traditio and Redditio Symboli; nay, there is no discoverable sign of the existence of this particular form before the middle of the fifth century.66Kattenbusch, ibid. S. 189 ff., who curiously disputes this view, has hitherto only partly stated his reasons for dissenting from it. As it did not, at all events, come to the West from the Eastern Church, and symbols can be shown to have been in use in various provincial churches in the West during the fourth and fifth centuries which materially differ from the “textus receptus” of the Apostolicum, we may infer that it scarcely existed in its received form earlier than the middle of the fifth century, and probably did not assume its present shape, 7complete in every detail, before about the year 500. In that shape it appears for the first time in a sermon of Caesarius of Arles.77Pseudo-Augustin. n. 244, vide Kattenbusch, ibid. S. 164 ff., cf. also Sermo 240 and 241; the texts are in Hahn’ s Bibliothek der Symbole, 2te Auf. 47-49, and the symbol is in the Missale Gallicanum vetus (Hahn, § 36). The immediate predecessor of Caesarius’ symbol, or, as the case may be, of the Apostolicum as we have it, is very probably that of Faustus of Rietz, about 460, but it does not admit of being satisfactorily reconstructed.88Hahn, 38; Kattenbusch, S. 158 ff. On the other hand the stage succeeding that of the old Roman symbol in the direction of our Apostles’ Creed is represented by the highly interesting symbol discovered by Bratke in the Berne Codex,99N. 645, saec. vii. (StK. 1895, S. 153). which I regard with him as a Gallican, or, as the 8case may be, a Gallico-British symbol, and assign to the fourth century. It differs from the old Roman symbol only by the additions of “passus,” “descendit ad inferos,” “catholicam,” and “vitam aeternam.” These four additions all lie in the direction of our Apostles’ Creed and at the same time prove that they are the four oldest additions, whilst “conceptus, etc.” and “communionem sanctorum” are later. “Creatorem coeli et terrae” and “mortuus” are also earlier.1010That the Greek texts of the Gallicanum-textus receptus are translations, no one disputes (Hahn, §§ 47β, 49). As to these texts, cf. Caspari, Quellen z. Geschichte des Taufsymbols, Bd. iii.
Against the Roman origin of the Apostles’ Creed, called by modern writers the later and longer Roman symbol, inasmuch as it was undoubtedly through the influence of Rome that it in later times 9attained universal authority in the West, we may oppose the fact (1) that it was not found in Rome until the Middle Ages, that is to say, many centuries after its existence had been attested by Caesarius of Arles, and (2) that from the end of the fifth, or the beginning of the sixth century, until the tenth, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in Greek, and the Apostles’ Creed, were used in Rome in the traditio symboli,1111Caspari, iii. S. 201 f., 226, ii. S. 114 f. n. 88. and that, so far as the use of a shorter symbol side by side with. the Constantinopolitan was known in Rome during the Byzantine period (the sixth to the eighth century), it was not identical with the Apostles’ Creed. Our Apostles’ Creed points very plainly to Southern Gaul, and to a period about the year 500. But the spread of the “textus receptus” 10of the Symbolum Apostolicum throughout Western Europe in the sixth century was soon accompanied by the legend of its wonderful origin.1212Hahn, § 46β. That a symbol of such recent origin should from the beginning bear the name “Apostolic” suggests the conjecture that it has a history earlier than the fifth century, and that another form must have preceded the “textus receptus,” the attributes of which were then transferred to the new text supplanting it. The contention that this later creed or symbol traced its origin to a συμβολή or “collatio” involves a confusion between συμβολή, which also bears the meaning of “summa” or “brevis complexio,” and σύμβολον, that is, “signum,” “indicium,” in the sense not only of a distinction between Christians and non-Christians, 11or between Christians and heretics, but also in the sense of “tessera militum,” a token or deed of agreement.1313Caspari, ii. S. 88. The name “Symbolum” is first found in the West in Cyprian;1414Ep. 69 ad Magnum, c. 7. in the East, not until after the beginning of the sixth century.1515Caspari, i. S. 24 f. n. 28. As to the various designations of the creed, cf. Caspari, i. S. 21 f. n. 26, iii. S. 30; Nitzsch, ZThK. Bd. iii. S. 332 ff.; Kattenbusch, S. 1 ff., S. 37 ff.; Lehrbuch der vergleichenden Konfessionskunde, Bd. i. S. 5 ff. The legend1616Hahn, § 47 f.; Köllner, ibid. S. 7 f.; Caspari, ii. S. 93 f. that each of the twelve Apostles, in a general session before their separation, contributed a phrase to the creed, was exploded even as early as Laurentius Valla and Erasmus,1717Monrad, Die erste Kantroverse über d. Ursprung des apost. Glaubensbekenntnisses; Kattenbusch, Apost. Symb. S. 1 ff. The Roman Catechism has nevertheless retained it. but seems 12to point to a confirmation of the conjecture above hazarded as to the earlier form. This conjecture, which is also suggested by a glance at the very simple contents of the creed and its clear and compact form, is strikingly confirmed by history.13
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