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Encyclopedia > Athanasian Creed

The Athanasian Creed (Quicunque vult) is a statement of Christian doctrine traditionally ascribed to St. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, who lived in the 4th century. However most of today's historians agree that in all probability it was originally written in Latin, not in Greek, and probably originated in Gaul around 500; if so, then Athanasius cannot have been the original author. Its theology is closely akin to that found in the writing of Western theologians, especially Ss. Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, and Vincent of Lérins. J.N.D. Kelly, a contemporary patristics scholar, believes that St. Vincent of Lérin may have been its author (J.N.D. Kelly, The Athanasian Creed, NY: Harper and Row, 1964). Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as Jesus Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... Athanasius of Alexandria (also spelled Athanasios) (298–May 2, 373) was a Christian bishop, the Patriarch of Alexandria, in the fourth century. ... This article needs to be updated. ... As a means of recording the passage of time, the 4th century was that century which lasted from 301 to 400. ... It has been suggested that History of the Latin language be merged into this article or section. ... Theology is reasoned discourse concerning God (Greek θεος, theos, God, + λογος, logos, word or reason). It can also refer to the study of other religious topics. ... Saint Ambrose, Latin Sanctus Ambrosius, Italian SantAmbrogio (circa 340 - April 4, 397), bishop of Milan, was one of the most eminent fathers of the Christian church in the 4th century. ... Aurelius Augustinus, Augustine of Hippo, or Saint Augustine (November 13, 354–August 28, 430) was one of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity. ... Saint Vincent of Lerins (in Latin, Vincentius) was a Gallic author of early writings on Christianity. ...


It was designed to overcome Arianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, and Macedonianism. The filioque is part of its original text. Liturgically, this Creed was recited at the Sunday Office of Prime in the Western Church; it is not used in the Eastern Church. This article is about theological views like those of Arius. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Monophysitism (from the Greek monos meaning one, alone and physis meaning nature) is the christological position that Christ has only one nature, as opposed to the Chalcedonian position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human. ... In Christian theology the filioque clause (and the Son) is a disputed part of the Nicene Creed. ... Prime is a fixed time of prayer of the traditional Divine Office, said at 6 a. ...


Today the Athanasian Creed is rarely used even in the Western Church. When used, one common practice is to use it once a year on Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. ...

Contents


English-Language Translations

The ICET English Language Translation

The following translation was prepared by the International Consultation on English Texts: The Consultation on Common Texts is an ecumenical group that has been meeting since the mid-1960s to define common texts for Christian liturgical use. ...

Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith.
Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.
Now this is the catholic faith: We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.
For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another.
But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty.
What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit.
Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit.
The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite.
Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit:
And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal;
as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.
Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit:
And yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty.
Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God:
And yet there are not three gods, but one God.
Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord:
And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord.
As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.
The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten;
the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father;
the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son.
Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits.
And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other;
but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the one God in three persons.
Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.
It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that our Lord Jesus Christ became flesh.
For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: That our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, is both God and man.
He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father, and he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother --
existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body;
equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity.
Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ.
He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity.
He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures.
For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.
He suffered death for our salvation.
He descended into hell and rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people shall rise bodily to give an account of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.
This is the catholic faith.
One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.

Book of Common Prayer 1662 Church of England

(Note that this version contains an arguable borderline mistranslation when the Latin word "immensus", meaning immeasurable or infinite, is rendered into English as "incomprehensible", and uses some terms which probably convey very little specific meaning to the mind of the typical 21st-century English-speaker, such as when the Latin word "divinitas", meaning divine nature or quality of divinity, is translated into English as "godhead".)

At Morning Prayer
Upon these Feasts; Christmas Day, the Epiphany, Saint Matthias, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, Saint John Baptist, Saint James, Saint Bartholomew, Saint Matthew, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Saint Andrew, and upon Trinity Sunday, shall be sung or said, this Confession of our Christian Faith, commonly called the Creed of Saint Athanasius, by the Minister and people standing.
QUICUNQUE VULT
Whosoever will be saved : before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholick Faith.
Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled : without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
And the Catholick Faith is this : That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
Neither confounding the Persons : not dividing the Substance.
For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son : and another of the Holy Ghost.
But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one : the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
Such as the Father is, such is the Son : and such is the Holy Ghost.
The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate : and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible : and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
The Father eternal, the Son eternal : and the Holy Ghost eternal.
And yet they are not three eternals : but one eternal.
As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated : but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty : and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
And yet they are not three Almighties : but one Almighty.
So the Father is God, the Son is God : and the Holy Ghost is God.
And yet they are not three Gods : but one God.
So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord : and the Holy Ghost Lord.
And yet not three Lords : but one Lord.
For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity : to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
So are we forbidden by the Catholick Religion : to say there be three Gods, or three Lords.
The Father is made of none : neither created, nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone : not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son : neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons : one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other : none is greater, or less than another;
But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together : and co-equal.
So that in all things, as is aforesaid : the Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
He therefore that will be saved : must thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation : that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the right Faith is that we believe and confess : that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;
God, of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds : and Man, of the Substance of his Mother, born in the world;
Perfect God, and Perfect Man : of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting;
Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead : and inferior to the Father, as touching his Manhood.
Who although he be God and Man : yet he is not two, but one Christ;
One, not by the conversion of the Godhead into flesh : but by taking of the Manhood into God;
One altogether, not by confusion of Substance : but by unity of Person.
For as reasonable soul and flesh is one man : so God and Man is one Christ.
Who suffered for our salvation : descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.
He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty : from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies : and shall give account for their own works.
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting : and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
This is the Catholick Faith : which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.

Scholarly edition and annotated translation

There is a scholarly comparative edition of the original Latin text of the Athanasian creed, along with commentary on the older English translation at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/creeds2.iv.i.iv.html


See also

A creed is a statement of belief—usually religious belief—or faith. ... The Apostles Creed (in Latin, Symbolum Apostolorum), is an early statement of Christian belief, possibly from the first or second century, but more likely post-Nicene Creed in the early 4th Century AD. The theological specifics of the creed appear to be a refutation of Gnosticism, an early heresy. ... Icon depicting the Holy Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea holding the Nicene Creed. ... The Shield of the Trinity or Scutum Fidei is a traditional Christian visual symbol which expresses many aspects of the doctrine of the Trinity, summarizing the first part of the Athanasian Creed in a compact diagram. ...

External links

  • Background information, plus his actual writings
  • The Athanasian Creed

  Results from FactBites:
 
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: The Athanasian Creed (1814 words)
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.
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.
The "Damnatory Clauses" of the Athanasian Creed, by Malcolm MacColl (1872) (16995 words)
The "Damnatory Clauses" of the Athanasian Creed, by Malcolm MacColl (1872)
He asserts that the Athanasian Creed, "so far from recommending the doctrine of the Trinity to unwilling minds, is the chief obstacle in the way of the acceptance of that doctrine." Doubtless the Dean knows what he says, and must have facts to support him.
Still, if the Athanasian Creed is to be thrown down by having great names flung at it, care should be taken that none but fairly legitimate names are summoned for that purpose; and this caution is especially necessary in the case of persons who are no longer on earth to defend themselves.
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