Most Ancient Forms of the Apostolic Creed


1 THE creed which is called Apostolic is composed essentially of (1) a Trinitarian part, three articles professing faith in three divine persons; (2) a Christological part which was added to the first section.

There are extant, however, certain formulae composed in the manner of creeds, but lacking the Christological part. These formulae seem to be more ancient than the Apostolic Creed. An achristological formula of this kind which seems to be the most ancient of all-exists in a work infected with Gnosticism written between the years 150 and 180, Testamentum in Galilaea D.N.I. Christi (or in an almost identical work Gesprache Jesu mit seinen Jungern nach der Auferstehung) where the short Creed (reads):

“[I believe] in the Father almighty,–and in Jesus Christ, our Savior; –and in the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, in the holy Church, and in the remission of sins.”

Another achristological formula, perhaps already used in the liturgy of Egypt probably in the third century, is shown by a papyrus discovered in Der-Balyzeh, written in the seventh or eighth century (cf. Dict. d’Archeol. chret. et de Lit. s.v. Canon, II, 2, 1882 ff.):


“I believe in God almighty;–and in his only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ;–and in the Holy Spirit and in the resurrection of the body <in> the holy Catholic Church.”