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The Athanasian Creed.

The Latin Original. Old Translation Revised.

1. Quicunque vult salvus esse: ante omnia opus est, ut teneat catholicam fidem.

1. Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith:

2. Quam nisi quisque integram inviolatamque servaverit: absque dubio in æternum peribit.

2. Which Faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

3. Fides autem catholica hæc est: ut unum Deum in Trinitate, et Trinitatem in Unitate veneremur;

3. And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

4. Neque confundentes personas: neque substantiam separantes.

4. Neither confounding the Persons: nor dividing the Substance [Essence].

5. Alia est enim persona Patris: alia Filii: alia Spiritus Sancti.

5. For there is one Person of the Father: another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost.

6. Sed Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti una est divinitas: æqualis gloria, coæterna majestas.

6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.

7. Qualis Pater: talis Filius: talis [et] Spiritus Sanctus.

7. Such as the Father is: such is the Son: and such is the Holy Ghost.

8. Increatus Pater: increatus Filius: increatus [et] Spiritus Sanctus.

8. The Father uncreate [uncreated]: the Son uncreate [uncreated]: and the Holy Ghost uncreate [uncreated].

9. Immensus Pater: immensus filius: immensus [et] Spiritus Sanctus.

9. The Father incomprehensible [unlimited]: the Son incomprehensible [unlimited]: and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible [unlimited, or infinite].


10. Æternus Pater: æternus Filius: æternus [et] Spiritus Sanctus.

10. The Father eternal: the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal.

11. Et tamen non tres æterni: sed unus æternus.

11. And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal.

12. Sicut non tres increati: nec tres immensi: sed unus increatus: et unus immensus.

12. As also there are not three uncreated: nor three incomprehensibles [infinites], but one uncreated: and one incomprehensible [infinite].

13. Similiter omnipotens Pater: omnipotens Filius: omnipotens [et] Spiritus Sanctus.

13. So likewise the Father is Almighty: the Son Almighty: and the Holy Ghost Almighty.

14. Et tamen non tres omnipotentes: sed unus omnipotens.

14. And yet they are not three Almighties: but one Almighty.

15. Ita deus Pater: deus Filius: deus [et] Spiritus Sanctus.

15. So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God.

16. Et tamen non tres dii: sed unus est Deus.

16. And yet they are not three Gods: but one God.

17. Ita dominus Pater: dominus Filius: dominus [et] Spiritus Sanctus.

17. So likewise the Father is Lord: the Son Lord: and the Holy Ghost Lord.

18. Et tamen non tres domini: sed unus [est] Dominus.

18. And yet not three Lords: but one Lord.

19. Quia sicut singulatim unamquamque personam Deum ac Dominum confiteri, Christiana veritate compellimur:

19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity: to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord:

20. Ita tres deos, aut [tres] dominos dicere, catholica religione prohibemur.

20. So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion: to say, There be [are] three Gods, or three Lords.

21. Pater a nullo est factus: nec creatus, nec genitus.

21. The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.

22. Filius a Patre solo est: non factus, nec creatus: sed genitus.

22. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created: but begotten.


23. Spiritus Sanctus a Patre et filio: non factus, nec creatus, nec genitus: sed procedens.

23. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten: but proceeding.

24. Unus ergo Pater, non tres patres: unus Filius, non tres filii: unus Spiritus Sanctus, non tres spiritus sancti.

24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers: one Son, not three Sons: one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.

25. Et in hac Trinitate nihil prius, aut posterius: nihil majus, aut minus.

25. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after another: none is greater, or less than another [there is nothing before, or after: nothing greater or less].

26. Sed totæ tres personæ coæternæ sibi sunt, et coæquales.

26. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal.

27. Ita, ut per omnia, sicut jam supra dictum est: et Unitas in Trinitate, et Trinitas in Unitate, venerenda sit.

27. So that in all things, as aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshiped.

28. Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de Trinitate sentiat.

28. He therefore that will be saved, must [let him] thus think of the Trinity.

———— ————

29. Sed necessarium est ad æternam salutem: ut incarnationem quoque Domini nostri Jesu Christi fideliter credat.

29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation: that he also believe rightly [faithfully] the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

30. Est ergo fides recta, ut credamus et confiteamur: quod Dominus noster Jesus Christus Dei Filius, Deus [pariter] et homo est;

30. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man;

31. Deus [est] ex substantia Patris, ante secula genitus: et homo ex substantia matris, in seculo natus.

31. God, of the Substance [Essence] of the Father; begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the Substance [Essence] of his Mother, born in the world.


32. Perfectus Deus: perfectus homo, ex anima rationali et humana carne subsistens.

32. Perfect God: and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

33. Aequalis Patri secundum divinitatem: minor Patre secundum humanitatem.

33. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead: and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood.

34. Qui licet Deus sit et homo; non duo tamen, sed unus est Christus.

34. Who although he be [is] God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ.

35. Unus autem, non conversione divinitatis in carnem: sed assumptione humanitatis in Deum.

35. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking [assumption] of the Manhood into God.

36. Unus omnino; non confusione substantiæ: sed unitate personæ.

36. One altogether; not by confusion of Substance [Essence]: but by unity of Person.

37. Nam sicut anima rationalis et caro unus est homo: ita Deus et homo unus est Christus.

37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man: so God and Man is one Christ;

38. Qui passus est pro nostra salute: descendit ad inferos: tertia die resurrexit a mortuis.

38. Who suffered for our salvation: descended into hell [Hades, spirit-world]: rose again the third day from the dead.

39. Ascendit ad [in] cœlos: sedet ad dexteram [Dei] Patris [omnipotentis].

39. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father God [God the Father] Almighty.

40. Inde venturus [est] judicare vivos et mortuos.

40. From whence [thence] he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

41. Ad cujus adventum omnes homines resurgere habent cum corporibus suis;

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. Et reddituri sunt de factis propriis rationem.

42. And shall give account for their own works.


43. Et qui bona egerunt, ibunt in vitam æternam: qui vero mala, in ignem æternum.

43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting: and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.

44. Hæc est fides catholicæ: quam nisi quisque fideliter firmiterque crediderit, salvus esse non poterit.

44. This is the Catholic Faith: which except a man believe faithfully [truly and firmly], he can not be saved.



1 The Latin text of the oldest known MS. in the Utrecht Psalter has been reproduced by Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy in his Report (London, 1873), and in the fac-simile ed. of the Utrecht Psalter (1875). It agrees nearly altogether with the text given above, but has a number of inaccuracies. I have compared also the texts of Waterland (Works, Vol. III. pp. 221 sqq,), Usher (De Romanæ Eccles. Symbolo Apost. vetere, 1647, Genev. ed. 1722, pp. 13–15), Montfaucon (in his ed. of Athanasius, Tom. II. pp. 719 sqq.), Hahn (pp. 122–125), Lumby (p. 259), and Swainson (p. 204). The numbering of verses differs: Waterland, Montfaucon, and the English Book of Common Prayer have only 40 verses by combining 19 and 20, 25 and 26, 39 and 40, 41 and 42; Walch and others make 44, the Roman Breviary 42. In my Church Hist. Vol. III. pp. 690–695, I have given the parallel passages from the fathers.

2 There is no authorized Greek text of the Athanasian Creed, since it was never adopted in the Oriental Church. There are several translations, which differ considerably. Usher gives a Greek version with many interpolations. Caspari (Vol. III. pp. 263–267) published for the first time two other Greek versions from MSS. in the Venetian Library of St. Mark and the Ambrosian Library of Milan.

3The English translation is that of the sixteenth century (1548), as found in the English editions of the Book of Common Prayer, and still in use in the public service of the Church of England. My emendations are inclosed in brackets. The punctuation is adjusted to the liturgical use of this Creed.

Ver. 1.—Some copies read opus habet for opus est . Usher: τὴν ὀρθόδοξον πίστιν , orthodoxam fidem. The MS. in the Utrecht Psalter begins with a grammatical blunder: 'Incipit fides catholicam.'

Ver. 2.—On the damnatory clause, which is twice repeated, ver. 28 and ver. 44, see the Introduction, pp. 39, 41. Some MSS. read inviolabilemque; some omit absque dubio.

Ver. 3.—Usher: Orthodoxa for catholica. Compare on this verse Gregory Naz., Orat. xxiii.: μονάδα ἐν τριάδι, καὶ τριάδα ἐν μονάδι προσκυνουμένην .

Ver. 4.—Person in the sense of persona , πρόσωπον (also ὑπόστασις in the post-Nicene use of the term), i.e., character, face, manifestation, subsistence. It must not be confounded with essence or being ( essentia , substantia , natura , οὐσία , φύσις ). God is one in essence, three in persons ( Deus est trinus, h. e. in essentia unus, tres habet subsistendi modos ). In modern philosophical usage the term person means a separate and distinct rational individual. But the tri-personality of God is not a numerical or essential trinity of three beings (like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), for this would be tritheism; nor is it, on the other hand, merely a threefold aspect and mode of manifestation, in the Sabellian or Swedenborgian sense;7878    Swedenborg was willing to adopt the Athanasian Creed if a trinity of (the one Divine) person was substituted for a trinity of persons. According to him, the Father is the Essential Divinity, the Son the Divine Humanity, the Holy Spirit the Divine Proceeding or Operation. but it is a real, objective, and eternal, though ineffable, distinction in the one Divine being, with a corresponding threefold revelation of this being in the works of creation, redemption, and sanctification. 71Hence the distinction between the immanent, intrinsic (or ontological) trinity and the extrinsic or œconomical) trinity; in other words, between the trinity of essence and the trinity of manifestation.

Ver. 4.—The Latin substantia (that which stands under) and essentia correspond to the Greek οὐσία , as distinct from πρόσωπον . But in modern English, substance is used mostly in the sense of matter, body, or the most important part, summary. Hence essence or being is preferable. Hypostasis ( ὑπόστασις , foundation, groundwork, substratum , substantia ) was originally used in the same sense as οὐσία , but afterwards it became identical with prosopon , persona.

Ver. 6.—Usher reads after divinitas: ' Unum robur, una potestas, unum regnum ' (an interpolation of the Greeks).

Ver. 9.—Incomprehensible is a false translation, unless it be taken in the unusual sense, 'not to be comprehended within any bounds.' The Anglican translator of 1548 perhaps followed a Greek copy (of 1533) which renders immensus by ἀκατάληπτος . But other Greek copies read ἄπειρος or ἄμετρος instead. Usher's Greek text has παντοκράτωρ , omnipotent. The Latin immensus means, what can not be circumscribed or limited by any boundaries, what is illocal, omnipresent. Fortunatus explains the word: ' Non est mensurabilis in sua natura, quia illocalis est, incircumscriptus, ubique totus, ubique præsens, ubique potens. ' The author of the Athanasian Creed glories in the clear revelation and statement of the mystery of the Trinity rather than in the mystery itself. The Utrecht Psalter reads inmensus.

Ver. 20.—Waterland omits tres before Dominos. Usher reads for prohibemur: ' Non comprobamus, sed omnino prohibemus. '

Ver. 21.—Usher: sed ingenitus for nec genitus.

Ver. 23.—The Greek translation and the Latin text in Usher omit et Filio , which is contrary to the Greek doctrine of the single procession. Most Greek copies read only ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρός .

Ver. 25.—Usher: nullus primus aut postremus, nullus major aut minor , οὐδεὶς πρῶτος ἢ ἔσχατος, οὐδεὶς μέγας ἢ μικρός .

Ver. 29.— Fideliter is variously rendered in the Greek copies by ὀρθῶς , πιστῶς , βεβαίως .

Ver. 30.—Utrecht Psalter reads quia for quod , and omits pariter.

Ver. 31.—Usher's Greek text inserts here a long interpolation, which is not at all in keeping with the sententious character of the symbol.

Ver. 32.—Another long interpolation in Usher.

Ver. 38.—After passus est a Greek version adds the anti-patripassian clause: ἀπαθοῦς τῆς θεότητος μενούσης , impassibili manente divinitate.

Ver. 38.—Some MSS. read ad infernos or ad inferna. Usher's enlarged Greek copy omits the clause, and reads ταφεὶς καὶ ἀναστάς . The Utrecht Psalter reads et qui for qui vero.

Ver. 43.—Usher: εἰς αἰωνίους κολάσεις , ad cruciatus eternos.

Ver. 44.—The Greek copies read either πιστῶς alone, or πιστῶς τε καὶ βεβαίως , or ἐκ πίστεως βεβαίως πιστεύσῃ .


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