While I'm not in a position to take up the baton, it seemed at least
important to mention that there were two major crises of central
importance prior to Nicea (and several "minor" ones), namely:
"Gnosticism" (and Marcionism)
Both of these, but especially the latter, left their strong imprint on
the development of classical creeds.
(By "minor" I had in mind such controversies and challenges as Montanism,
Manichaeism, Encratism, Donatism, and the like.)
Back to thee, Anatole!
Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
227 Logan Hall (Philadelphia PA 19104-6304); tel. 215 898-5827
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> The Threatened Series - 1
> I promised - or threatened - some time ago to do a series about the
> controversies which affected the early Church. Having got one or two
> other literary efforts out of the way, I shall now endeavour to keep my
> threat. But first - I perceive that there are many on this list who
> know as much about the subject as I do, and some who know far more. If
> any of you can do a better series, I beseech you to do so and save me
> the trouble.
> The relevant controversies, I think, are those which were discussed in
> the first six, or perhaps seven, ecumenical councils. These may be
> listed as follows, with their dates and controversies:
> 1. Nicæa I 325 Arianism
> 2. Constantinople I 381 Apollinarianism
> 3. Ephesus 431 Nestorianism
> 4. Chalcedon 451 Eutychianism ( = Monophysitism)
> 5. Constantinople II 553 Three Chapters Controversy
> 6. Constantinople III 680-1 Monothelitism
> 7. Nicæa II 787 Iconoclasm.
> The first council of Nicæa was summoned by Constantine to deal with
> the Arian controversy. Whatever one tries to say about the first
> council of Nicæa is bound to be contradicted (though on this list,
> always with courtesy), because if the council kept minutes of its
> proceedings, they have now vanished.
> The canons passed by the council, which have survived, have nothing to
> do with the Arian controversy, but with various disciplinary matters.
> Canon 1, for example, deals with priests who have been castrated, or
> who have castrated themselves.
> The council did issue a creed, but it was not the one now in use,
> commonly referred to as the 'Nicene Creed'. I quote the 'Creed of
> Nicaea' from Bettenson, 'Documents of the Christian Church' p. 35:
> We believe in one God the Father All-sovereign, maker of all things
> visible and invisible;
> And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father,
> only-begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father, God of God,
> Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one
> substance with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all
> things were made, things in heaven and things on the earth; who for us
> men and for our salvation came down and was made flesh, and became man,
> suffered, and rose on the third day, ascended into the heavens, is
> coming to judge living and dead.
> And in the Holy Spirit.
> And those that say, 'There was when he was not,'
> and 'Before he was begotten he was not,'
> and that 'He came into being from what-is-not,'
> or those that allege, that the son of God is
> 'Of another substance or essence'
> or 'created,'
> or 'changeable,'
> or 'alterable,'
> these the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes.
> We shall look in our next posting at what is meant by this creed, the
> controversies underlying it, and the opinions which it anathematizes.
> But no doubt before then many on the list will want to contribute their
> two penn'orth.
> The Supple Doctor.