A formula containing in brief statements, or “articles,” the fundamental tenets of Christian belief, and having for its authors, according to tradition, the Twelve Apostles.
I. ORIGIN OF THE CREED
Throughout the Middle Ages it was generally believed that the Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, while still under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, composed our present Creed between them, each of the Apostles contributing one of the twelve articles. This legend dates back to the sixth century (see Pseudo-Augustine in Migne, P.L., XXXIX, 2189, and Pirminius, ibid., LXXXIX, 1034), and it is foreshadowed still earlier in a sermon attributed to St. Ambrose (Migne, P.L., XVII, 671; Kattenbusch, I, 81), which takes notice that the Creed was “pieced together by twelve separate workmen”. About the same date (c. 400) Rufinus (Migne, P.L., XXI, 337) gives a detailed account of the composition of the Creed, which account he professes to have received from earlier ages (tradunt majores nostri). Although he does not explicitly assign each article to the authorship of a separate Apostle, he states that it was the joint work of all, and implies that the deliberation took place on the day of Pentecost. Moreover, he declares that “they for many just reasons decided that this rule of faith should be called the Symbol”, which Greek word he explains to mean both indicium, i.e. a token or password by which Christians might recognize each other, and collatio, that is to say an offering made up of separate contributions. Continue reading