I. Texts.
The Three Principal Texts ( 1).
The Addition of "Filioque" ( 2).
The Omission of "in," and the Use of the Singular ( 3).
Minor Texts or Forms ( 4).
II. Origin.
Nicene Creed Proper ( 1).
Inadequacy Felt Later ( 2).
Attempts to Remedy ( 3)
Traditional Account of Origin ( 4).
Its Difficulties: External ( 5).
Its Difficulties: Internal ( 6).
Modern Theory of Origin ( 7).
III. History of its Acceptance.
Acceptance in the West ( 1).
Acceptance in the East ( 2)
Theory as to Manner of Sanction ( 3).
Conclusion ( 4).

The Constantinopolitan Creed is second of the so-called ecumenical creeds of the Christian Church, and the one which has the best right to the term, being received not only by the Greek and Roman Catholic communions, but by the various heretical bodies of the East and by the great majority of Protestant churches. It is known also as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, or simply as the Nicene Creed; this name, however, connotes, not the confession of faith adopted at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 (see NICAEA, COUNCILS OF, I.), but a version professing to be a mere enlargement of it, traditionally supposed to have been adopted by the so-called ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 (see ARIANISM).

I. Texts

1. The Three Principal Texts

There are three principal texts of the creed. (1) The Greek text as found in the acts of the second (imperfectly), fourth, and sixth ecumenical councils and the works of the later Greek Fathers. (2) The Latin text, represented by a series of translations from the Greek in various manuscripts, of which the most important are the so-called interpretation of Dionysius Exiguus, the acts of the Council of Toledo (589), those of the Council of Friuli (796), and that put up by Leo III. in St. Paul's church at Rome. (3) The Greek text used in the West, as preserved in some manuscripts of the ninth and tenth centuries. Mention may also be made of certain ancient versions, such as the Syriac (Nitrian MS. of 562 in the British Museum), the Arabic-Coptic, and two Anglo-Saxon (MSS. of the eleventh and thirteenth centuries at Oxford and Cambridge). The Latin text, especially in its present form, as received by the entire West, is distinguished from the Greek, apart from small variations, by three principal peculiarities: the addition of the Filioque, the omission of in before unam . . . ecclesiam, and the singular form of the words used for assent, Credo, confiteor, spero.

2. The Addition of "Filioque"

The addition of Filioque, first met with in the acts of the Third Council of Toledo (589), occurs in several Spanish documents of the subsequent age and in some of the Carolingian State Church (796; See FILIOQUE CONTROVERSY). The doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Ghost was formulated by Augustine, and was prevalent in the West from the fifth to the seventh centuries. Its reception into the creed took place in Spain as a safeguard against Visigothic Arianism; thence it spread to the Carolingian empire, and was there accepted as the official version of the creed in the first decade of the ninth century. In Rome, though the Augustinian doctrine was approved, the creed was recited without the addition till the beginning of the ninth century, as is shown by the tablet of Leo III. and his reply to the Frankish envoys in 809. Soon after, however, it was introduced there also, as evidenced by the Ordo Romanus belonging possibly to the second half of the ninth century, and by the controversy with Photius.

The Omission of "in," and the Use of the Singular.

The omission of in before ecclesiam was not accidental. It is coeval in the West with the first attestation of the creed. Some Latin versions restore the in, but they are either accurate translations by scholars, or to be referred to the fact that by the usage of that time in might be used merely to indicate that ecclesiam was the accusative.


This variant also goes back to the Augustinian theology, and ultimately to still older Western feeling, which objected to designating anything else than the Triune God as the object of religious faith in the highest sense. This view received formal expression in Augustine's distinction between credere aliquid, alicui, and in aliquem. The change from plural to singular in the words of acceptance, which occurs in the oldest Spanish, Roman, Frankish, and Anglo-Saxon recensions, is connected with the usage of the traditio and redditio symboli, by which the creed was used as the personal expression of the individual who recited it. The Western Greek texts largely share the peculiarities of the Latin, while that written with Roman letters in the Gelasian Sacramentary, as well as in a liturgical MS. of the Vienna library, is identical with the Eastern text.

4. Minor Texts or Forms.

There axe also a number of creed-forms calling themselves Niceno-Constantinopolitan or Nicene and considered by Caspari as modifications of the Constantinopolitan. These are: (1) the revised Antiochian; (2) the Nestorian; (3) the Philadelphian; (4) the form given in the pseudo-Athanasian "Interpretation of the Creed"; (5) the second and longer creed in the Ancoratus of Epiphanius; (6) the Cappadocian-Armenian; (7) the exposition of the Nicene Creed ascribed to Basil; (8) one of the two creeds read at Chalcedon and there described as Nicene. In spite of the resemblance of these to the Constantinopolitan, they are (as Hort has very well shown) rather sister than daughter recensions, and are, as will be seen later, of no alight importance for the solution of the question of origin.

II. Origin

1. Nicene Creed Proper.

The Nicene Creed proper was adopted at the Council of Nicaea in 325 as a first settlement of the Trinitarian controversy (see ARIANISM). The process which led up to the victory of the Alexandrian theology and to the reception of the creed is still obscure, and the original meaning of the crucial term homoomios can not be absolutely determined. But Eusebius is undoubtedly right when he says that the formula proposed by him was the basis of the new confession. The Nicene Creed differs from this formula by some omissions and slight alterations, by the insertion of the Alexandrian christological formulas, and by a thorough revision based on a comparison with the baptismal symbols of Jerusalem and Antioch. The changes made by omission are of importance as showing that the victorious Alexandrian party was bent on avoiding any ambiguity and indisposed to compromise; the omitted phrases are mostly Biblical in phraseology, but such as were on the lips of open or half-avowed opponents of the strict orthodox belief. That the Nicene Creed was intended not as a baptismal symbol but as a christological rule of faith is shown by the brevity of the third section and by the bearing of the appended anathemas. All these characteristics gave the creed a theoretical, unliturgical, and unscriptural form which was used as a justification for attacks upon it in the next period by the Arians and Eusebians, and for acceptance with reservations even by some who were in the main orthodox.

2. Inadequacy Felt Later.

The next few decades saw acute controversy rage around it, and its opponents proposed a series of alternatives for it up to 341. This controversy deepened the attachment of its defenders to its literal expression, and made them avoid even any expansion of it in an orthodox sense. Thus at the Council of Sardica (344) it was simply reaffirmed without changes, and numerous passages might be collected from both orthodox and heterodox sources between 350 and 450 to show the unique reverence paid to the Nicene formula. Difficulties arose in regard to its use as a baptismal symbol, of which there is no evidence between 325 and 361, the older provincial creeds remaining in use.

3. Attempts to Remedy.

Later, however, after Julian's accession and the regaining of power by the orthodox party, which strengthened its position by the great synods of 360-370 and by the labors of strong bishops in Asia Minor and Syria, the desire of expressing the pure Nicene faith in connection with the act of baptism was felt. This could be done in three ways: by incorporating the Nicene watchwords into the old provincial creeds, by expanding the Nicene Creed into a completeness adequate for the purpose, or by keeping it unchanged, in spite of its incompleteness and its polemical bearing, and still using it for a baptismal symbol. All these three ways were, as a matter of fact, tried in the century between the synods of Alexandria and of Chalcedon; and the origin of the creed under discussion may best be sought in the history of these experiments.

4. Traditional Account of Origin.

The traditional account, held from the sixth century and accepted in both East and West, is that the creed was drawn up at the Council of Constantinople in 381. This synod was supposed to have supplemented the Nicene Creed by an expansion of the third section, and the resulting Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed was assumed to have been at once received into universal ecclesiastical use. The first thing that shook the common belief was the realization that the Ancoratus of Epiphanius (373-374) contained a creed which, apart from its being supplemented by the Nicene anathemas and from two phrases in the text, was wholly identical with the Constantinopolitan. This could only be explained in harmony with the traditional view by the theory that Epiphanius himself added it to his book after 381, as Franzelin maintains, or that it was a much later interpolation by another hand, as Vincenzi asserts. Hefele, accordingly, like Tillemont before him, took the view that the council did not actually draw up a new creed but adopted that of Epiphanius with a few slight changes, giving it the rank of an ecumenical creed. He demonstrates that it was not written by Epiphanius himself, nor in Cyprus, but rather in Syria, some years before 373. But there is no documentary evidence of a promi-


nent part played by Epiphanius at the Council of Constantinople, to say nothing of the acceptance of a creed proposed by him.

5. Its Difficulties: External

The fact is that the tradition of the establishment of the creed by the Council of Constantinople is no longer tenable, quite apart from the view held of the creed of Epiphanius. The council was not really ecumenical; it was summoned by Theodosius from his own division of the empire, and was not completely representative even of the East. Its canons were not included in the oldest Greek collections, and the evidence goes to show that they did not find universal acceptance in the East until after 451. The creed is not found among the few documents which remain from the council, and when it was placed among them later, the compiler obviously knew nothing of its origin, as it appears without introduction or connection. Socrates (v. 8) tells that the council confined itself to affirming the Nicene faith after the Macedonian bishops had left; and the accounts of Sozomen (VII. vii. 9) and Theodoret (v. 8) are substantially the same. Gregory Nazianzen, who was in attendance, in his comprehensive letter on the rule of faith written soon after its close, mentions only the Nicene Creed, and is silent as to its expansion or the drawing up of a new creed, besides which he expressly remarks that the Nicene Creed is inadequate as to the Holy Ghost, which would have been quite impossible if the council had just completed it in that regard. In a word, between 381 and 451 there is no undoubted trace in East or West of the existence of the Creed of Constantinople; and during this period it was nowhere used as the Creed of Constantinople or as the official baptismal symbol, while the Nicene Creed came more and more into use for this purpose, especially in the East, and increased, if possible, in consideration. In fact, with the single exception-- of the Council of Chalcedon (451), which mentions the Creed of Constantinople together with the Nicene, and ascribes it to the council of 381, there is no valid evidence for it until the beginning of the sixth century, after which it is frequently mentioned. Thus the external evidence is wholly against its having been the work of the council of 381.

6. Its Difficulties: Internal.

The internal evidence is still more unfavorable; for it can be shown that the Constantinopolitan Creed is no mere expansion of the Nicene, which disposes of the theory that the authorities who assert the simple confirmation of the Nicene by the council meant the creed under discussion; while if the council drew up a new creed or expanded the .old one, its version could not possibly have been worded as this creed is. As to the first, it is to be noticed that this creed differs from the Nicene not merely by the addition to the third section, but is really different all the way through, and comes from another original source, even though it has adopted a certain number of the Nicene watchwords. To sum up the points of difference which a careful comparison of the two discloses, we find ten additions besides the long one, four omissions, and five distinct changes in order of words or sentence-structure; or, as Hort puts it, of 178 words in the Constantinopolitan Creed only thirty-three, or less than a fifth, can be positively said to be taken from the Nicene.

7. Modern Theory of Origin.

The creed is therefore either a new and independent one with certain Nicene insertions, or based upon some older baptismal creed, edited in a Nicene sense-- probably the latter, since there is no case known of the composition of a wholly new baptismal creed in the fourth or fifth century. This hypothesis is supported by a consideration of two additions-- the "before all worlds" which follows "begotten of his Father," and the "according to the Scriptures" after the assertion of the resurrection. As to the former, it is well known that the Nicene Fathers carefully avoided any limitation of time for the generation of the Son by the Father, and deliberately omitted these words from the creed of Eusebius. This attitude was made even more rigid by the history of the compromise-- formulas of Antioch and Sirmium; and it is impossible to suppose that these very words were with equal deliberation added by the bishops at Constantinople, when such an action would have been construed as a concession to the Semi-Arians. The whole situation at the time allows no other explanation than that these words were already contained in an ancient baptismal creed, revised in a Nicene sense (not, of course at Constantinople), and that the revisers did not see any necessity for omitting them, but were satisfied with adding the most important Nicene watchwords. The words "according to the Scriptures," again, had become so suspicious in the course of a long controversy that no adherent of Nicaea would have thought of inserting them in a creed wbich did not already contain them, least of all in the Nicene Creed.

These conclusions are confirmed by the third section, which is traditionally supposed to have been the especial work of the Council of Constantinople. It is certain that the Macedonians were combated at this council; that from it dates their definite exclusion from the Church; and that it showed no tendency to make the slightest compromise with them. It is equally certain that the dogmatic "tome" issued by the council (now unhappily lost) expressed the full unity of substance between the Holy Ghost and the Father and the Son. But the creed, instead of emphasizing this unity of substance, contents itself with phrases that bear, indeed, a homoousian meaning but do not clearly express it-- phrases which might have sufficed against crude Arianism, but would have been quite inadequate to combat the energetic denials of the homoousia of the Holy Spirit about 380. The fact that the creed thus contains an evidently orthodox but not sufficiently definite expression on this point brings us again to the theory of an ancient baptismal creed which was revised in a Nicene and anti-Macedonian sense after 362 and some time before 381. Its inclusion in the Ancoratus of Epiphanius, which, it is now plain, can not be regarded as due to a subsequent interpolation, may help to throw light on its actual origin.

Although the words in which Epiphanius


commends the creed to the church of Pamphylia are not clear and the text is possibly corrupt in at least one place, it is evident that he sets it forth as a creed substantially of apostolic and Nicene origin. Now the question as to the source from which he received it led as long ago as the days of Gerhard Voss to the comparison of its wording with that of the Jerusalem creed; and in modern times Hort has conclusively justified the statement that the creed of Constantinople is nothing but the baptismal symbol of Jerusalem increased by the addition of the most important Nicene formulas and definitions on the Holy Ghost. The whole first section and the second down to "before all worlds" is identical in both; the structure of the second section is that of Jerusalem, with the addition of the Nicene phrases and four supplementary expressions-and of these one or two may have been in the Jerusalem creed, which is only known by reconstruction from Cyril's catechetical lectures; the third reads "and in one Holy Ghost, the Comforter, who spake by the prophets," which words afford a basis for the longer statement of the Constantinopolitan Creed.

The latter would therefore be a revision of the old Jerusalem creed made between 362 and 373, under the influence, there is scarcely a doubt, of Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem from 351 to 386. Three of the creeds mentioned above as resembling but distinct from the Nicene came into being under precisely the same circumstances. The creed of Antioch was probably a revision of the old baptismal creed of that church made, in dependence on the Nicene, by Meletius about 373; the Nestorian creed still in use was a further revision of the Antiochian creed made on the basis of the Nicene about 366, and designated as Nicene in its introduction; and that laid before the Council of Ephesus by Charisius was an ancient creed of Asia Minor, revised in a thoroughly orthodox direction in the last third of the fourth century. The whole seven creeds belong to this class, in fact, may for more than one reason be attributed to the period just named, which witnessed much activity in the formulation of baptismal creeds in the East.

III. History of its Acceptance

1. Acceptance in the West.

How it came to be designated as "of Constantinople," and to enjoy ecumenical authority, is a more difficult question. The Council of Constantinople did not acquire this authority in the East until the middle of the fifth century, in the West from seventy to a hundred years later. The patriarchate of Constantinople attained supremacy in the East in 451, after which it had every reason for exalting the authority of the council held in that city in 381 as equal with the Nicene. The Monophysite churches held back for twenty years from acknowledging these claims, and they were not conceded in the West for nearly a century, not, in fact, until the dependence of the popes upon the Byzantine emperors brought about a tacit acceptance of the Council of Constantinople and its decrees. Pope Vigilius (538-555) is apparently the first to call it ecumenical; but possibly before his pontificate the creed in a Latin version was appended to the first three canons of Constantinople in the collection of Dionysius Exiguus, though he does not affirm the ecumenicity of the council. Gregory the Great, who took up the sorry inheritance of the Byzantine period, puts the four great councils, including that of Constantinople, on a level with the four Gospels. While the reverent reception of the creed in the West can not be clearly shown before the middle third of the sixth century, it increased with remarkable rapidity, once the formula was regarded as the production of a council now recognized as ecumenical, and had been raised to the rank of a baptismal creed by the Roman and Spanish churches, partly owing to the need of a strong defense against Visigothic Arianism. The addition of the word Filioque took place in 589-- so soon after the reception of the Creed in the West that it is almost possible to defend it as, for the West, no innovation. After the creed had once taken its position as a baptismal symbol in the most important Western provinces, and the legislation of Justinian had stamped it as authoritative there also, there was little chance of any question being raised as to its origin or sanction, and it retained its place in the mass and other solemn functions as of equal validity with the Apostles', and under the name of the Nicene. The Council of Trent solemnly reaffirmed it, and the Reformers (though Calvin for a time was inclined to criticize it) accepted it as Nicene and approved its teaching.

2. Acceptance in the East.

Its reception in the West shows that soon after 500 it must have passed in at least a part of the East as a Constantinopolitan revision of the Nicene creed. The process of its enforcement as such must have begun shortly before 450 and been completed about 500. It has been maintained that its presence in the acts of the Council of Chalcedon is due to an interpolation; but there are several strong reasons against the acceptance of this view.

3. Theory as to Manner of Sanction.

It is at least plausible to suppose that Cyril, whose orthodoxy was questioned by some, presented to the council his revised Jerusalem creed as a guaranty of his soundness; that it was approved by the council, and included in their acts, just as that of Eusebius was by the Council of Nicaea, that of Charisius by the Council of Ephesus, and that of Hosius by the Council of Sardica. When, at a later period, the need was felt in Constantinople of an expansion of the Nicene Creed, and it was sought for in the acts of the council, this confession was discovered, which offered a completion of the third section capable of a homoousian construction and valuable formulas in the second section. It was comparatively easy, then, when the council began to be received as ecumenical, to give out what purported to be its ecumenical creed as a completion of the Nicene, and to secure legislative and liturgical sanction for it, though not without opposition, which finally died out only in the sixth century.

4. Conclusion.

The Constantinopolitan Creed is therefore, like the Apostles' and the Nicene, in one sense of the word "apocryphal." It is both older and later than the council whose name it bears-- older in its


original source, later in its reception. The historical exposition of its text must rest largely upon the writings of Cyril and Athanasius, which will sometimes alter the conception of its meaning. The Fathers who received it from the second half of the fifth century as ecumenical did so because they knew how to employ its testimony against Apollinaris, Nestorius, and Eutyches. Thus also the statements as to the Holy Ghost must be accepted in the strictest homoousian sense, though their wording does not necessarily involve this; and the phrase "proceeding from the Father," historically considered, is an attempt not to answer the question as to the origin of the Spirit, but to condemn the Arian assertion that the Spirit was subordinate to and a product of the Son, by refer ring his origin directly to the Father, the primal radix of the Godhead.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: For a full list of the older literature consult: E. KSllner, Symbolik aller chriatliehen Conleesionen, i. 1 eqq., 28-52, Hamburg, 1837. Consult: W. W. Harney, Hist. and Theology o) as Three Creeds, 2 vole., London, 1854; C. A. Heurtley, Harmonia Symbolica, Oxford, 1858; idem, History of the Earlier Formularies of Faith. London, 1892; A. P. Forbes, Short Exposition of the Niome Creed, ib. 1888; C. A. Swainson, Nicene and Apostles' Creeds, ib. 1875; F. J. A. Hort, Two Dissertations, 11. on the Conatantinopolitan Creed, ib. 1878; J. R. Lumby, Hiet. of the Creeds, . ib. 1880; F. Kattenbuseh, Lebrbush den verple%rhenden Kontessionakunde, vol. i., Freiburg' 1892; G. B. Howard, The Canons of the Primitive Church; with as Creeds of Nicam and Constantinople, London, 1898; J. J. Line, The Nicene Creed; a Manual, ib. 1897; Harnack, Dogma, iii. 209-210, iv. 95 eqq., passim, v. 302303, vii. passim; F. Kunne, Dan nicdniscA-konstanti norolitanische Symbol, Leipsic, 1898; T H. Bindley, tEEumenicai Documents of the Faith, London, 1899; W. Schmidt, in N%Z, 1899 pp. 935 eqq; C Callow, Hist. o/ Origin and Development of Creeds, London, 1899; A. G. Mortimer, The Creeds: Historical . . . Exposition of the . . . Nicene . . . Creed, ib. 1902; Neander, Christian Church, 1415 sqq., iii. 554 eqq.; Schaff, Creeds, i. 12-34 (history), ii. 57-01 (text); idem, Christian Church, iii. 887-889. Consult also: P. Caspari, in Zeitschri/t for lutherische Theolopie, 1857, pp. 834 eqq.; Hefele, Ceneiliangeaehiehte, ii. passim, Eng. tranel., ii. 379 aqq., et passim.


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