samedi 7 novembre 2009

Voss and Foulkes - or when "Orthodox" love liars and nincompoops

From Catholic Encyclopedia, both quotes:

In the year 1644, Gerard Voss, in his "De Tribus Symbolis", gave weighty probability to the opinion that St. Athanasius was not its author. His reasons may be reduced to the two following:

  • firstly, no early writer of authority speaks of it as the work of this doctor; and

  • secondly, its language and structure point to a Western, rather than to an Alexandrian, origin.

Most modern scholars agree in admitting the strength of these reasons, and hence this view is the one generally received today. Whether the Creed can be ascribed to St. Athanasius or not, and most probably it cannot, it undoubtedly owes it existence to Athanasian influences, for the expressions and doctrinal colouring exhibit too marked a correspondence, in subject-matter and in phraseology, with the literature of the latter half of the fourth century and especially with the writings of the saint,
to be merely accidental. These internal evidences seem to justify the conclusion that it grew out of several provincial synods, chiefly that of Alexandria, held about the year 361, and presided over by St. Athanasius. It should be said, however, that these arguments have failed to shake the conviction of some Catholic authors, who refuse to give it an earlier origin than the fifth century.

To this has been added a third point: the creed that St Athanasius used was the Nicene (before the additions by the Council of Constantinople). On which I will answer that it was never in the West thought of as used by St Athanasius as a creed, but as an explanation of the Faith, later to be raised to status of liturgic creed by a Pope of Rome: Reply to Objection 3. Athanasius drew up a declaration of faith, not under the form of a symbol, but rather by way of an exposition of doctrine, as appears from his way of speaking. But since it contained briefly the whole truth of faith, it was accepted by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff, so as to be considered as a rule of faith. (source)

Answering Voss: Caesarius of Arles quotes this writing. That is as long as the lapse between Synoptics and Papias. No reason to doubt synoptics, no reason to doubt this writing either.

An elaborate attempt was made in England, in 1871, by E.C. Foulkes to assign the Creed to the ninth century. From a passing remark in a letter written by Alcuin he constructed the following remarkable piece of fiction. The Emperor Charlemagne, he says, wished to consolidate the Western Empire by a religious, as well as a political, separation from the East. To this end he suppressed the Nicene Creed, dear to the Oriental Church, and substituted a formulary composed by Paulinus of Aquileia, with whose approval and that of Alcuin, a distinguished scholar of the time, he ensured its ready acceptance by the people, by affixing to it the name of St. Athanasius. This gratuitous attack upon the reputation of men whom every worthy historian regards as incapable of such a fraud, added to the undoubted proofs of the Creed's having been in use long before the ninth century, leaves this theory without any foundation.

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