The Apostles’ Creed [#26]
According to tradition, the Apostles’ Creed was composed by the 12 apostles and correspondingly divided into 12 articles. But there is no actual evidence of an apostolic origin. Rather, scholars believe that it was based on a creed called the Old Roman Creed, which dated from the second or third century.
The first mention of the Apostles’ Creed dates to about 390 in a letter from Ambrose of Milan to Pope Siricius, but its complete current form does not appear until the eighth century. It is based on New Testament passages, especially Christ’s command in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
By the early Middle Ages, the Apostles’ Creed was used in baptismal rites and the daily prayer offices of the Western church. In the later Middle Ages, it appears as ornamentation in hundreds of works of art, including manuscripts, frescoes, and stained-glass windows. Today it continues to be used in many Christian denominations. Its silence on the nature of the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity has also made it a useful profession of faith in ecumenical contexts between East and West.
This article is from Christian History magazine #116 Twenty-Five Writings that Changed the Church and the World. Read it in context here!
By Jennifer Freeman
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #116 in 2015]Jennifer Freeman is art researcher for Christian History.
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