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  #1  
Old Nov 19, '09, 9:05 pm
Alan Wostenberg Alan Wostenberg is offline
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Default Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

Hi, all. First time post.

I noticed the clause "he descended into hell" is in apostles in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but not the Nicene creed we say on Sunday. I understand the Nicene creed goes into more details than the Apostles, so it surprised me when friend pointed out the clause "he descended into hell" is in the Apostle's creed, but not the Nicene we say on Sunday. Why?

-Alan Wostenberg
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  #2  
Old Nov 19, '09, 9:39 pm
diggerdomer diggerdomer is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
Hi, all. First time post.

I noticed the clause "he descended into hell" is in apostles in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but not the Nicene creed we say on Sunday. I understand the Nicene creed goes into more details than the Apostles, so it surprised me when friend pointed out the clause "he descended into hell" is in the Apostle's creed, but not the Nicene we say on Sunday. Why?

-Alan Wostenberg
We don't know. Either way, both creeds profess the authentic belief of Christians.
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  #3  
Old Nov 20, '09, 12:55 am
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DavidFilmer DavidFilmer is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

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Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
Hi, all. First time post.
Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
I noticed the clause "he descended into hell" is in apostles in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
I'm not sure what you mean by that. Although this creed is called the "Apostles' Creed," no serious theologian believes the Apostles themselves had any part in its creation, and the Church has never taught this. Nor has this creed (or any other except the Nicene) ever been officially promulgated by the Catholic Church.

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Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
I understand the Nicene creed goes into more details than the Apostles
The Nicene Creed was a creed in its own right - it was not derived from the Apostles' Creed. And, actually, if you omit the anathema at the end, the Nicene Creed is significantly shorter and less detailed than the Apostles Creed. For example, the Nicene Creed ends (omitting the anathema) at the phrase "I believe in the Holy Spirit" (and it says nothing about "one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church," nor anything about the remission of sins, the resurrection of the body, or the life everlasting). The Nicene Creed makes no mention of the Virgin Birth, or of Pontius Pilate, or of Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father, or a whole host of other doctrines which are mentioned in the Apostles' Creed. The Nicene Creed was an extremely basic creed. And, remember, a creed is a statement of faith, but never a complete statement of faith. The Nicene Creed was substantially inferior to the Apostles' Creed in regard to the depth of its teaching.

You might be thinking that I am either a heretic or completely insane. But I am neither.

The Creed which you are familiar with is not really the Nicene Creed (adopted at the Council of Nicea in 325), but is (a modified version of) the "Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed." The second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople (in 381) significantly reworked the original Creed of Nicea, adding much text and removing some (such as the anathema at the end), but did not assert any change to the name of the creed, so people continued to refer to it as the "Nicene Creed" (and still do), although it bears only a passing resemblance to the original.

It was not the divinely inspired mission of this second Council to fully reconcile both creeds, although they managed to do so in most areas. We do not know why these Council Fathers did not happen to also include the "descended into hell" clause from the Apostles' Creed. Maybe they thought that Ephesians 4:9 taught it clearly enough.
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Last edited by DavidFilmer; Nov 20, '09 at 1:05 am.
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  #4  
Old Nov 20, '09, 6:02 am
NPC NPC is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

As others have said, the short answer is that we don't know. However, the fact that the Nicene Creed omits to say, as the Apostles Creed does, that Christ descended into hell does not deny that He actually did. The common translation of the Apostles Creed now says that He descended "to the dead". So, by the very fact that Christ died - as the Nicene Creed also professes - He necessarily descended to the dead.

Note too, that the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that while the term "inferos" can be translated as "hell", it is not the same state that we nowadays understand hell to be - complete and permanent suffering and separation from God:

"Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, "hell" - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer..." (CCC 633). The state to which Christ descended has often been termed the "Limbo of the Fathers" - a state something like Purgatory.
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  #5  
Old Nov 20, '09, 7:33 am
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
Hi, all. First time post.

I noticed the clause "he descended into hell" is in apostles in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but not the Nicene creed we say on Sunday. I understand the Nicene creed goes into more details than the Apostles, so it surprised me when friend pointed out the clause "he descended into hell" is in the Apostle's creed, but not the Nicene we say on Sunday. Why?

-Alan Wostenberg
The Descent into Hell is not mentioned in the ancient creeds or confessions of the Fathers, it was added to the Roman Creed and then the Apostles' Creed. It is most likely the Nicene Creed looked to these older creeds.
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  #6  
Old Nov 21, '09, 5:28 pm
Alan Wostenberg Alan Wostenberg is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

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Originally Posted by DavidFilmer View Post
We do not know why these Council Fathers did not happen to also include the "descended into hell" clause from the Apostles' Creed. Maybe they thought that Ephesians 4:9 taught it clearly enough.
Thanks, David, and everybody else, for the answers.

I understand the creeds to be finely crafted legal documents in which each clause eliminates this or that heresy. The Catechism and other sources shed much light on what the omitted clause means, and why it is important.

So I am surprised it's not known why the particular clause "descendit ad infernos" is omitted in the Nicene-Constantanople creed we've been saying at Mass for a thousand years. Hard to believe "it just happened". Surely somebody removed it for a reason! I'll do some offline reading, and get back if I find anything.

Meanwhile, a theory: perhaps the clause dropped because it was confusing, with the english translation "he descended to hell" which means, according to the CCC not the hell of the damned, for "Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him"
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  #7  
Old Nov 21, '09, 7:04 pm
jimmy jimmy is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
Hi, all. First time post.

I noticed the clause "he descended into hell" is in apostles in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but not the Nicene creed we say on Sunday. I understand the Nicene creed goes into more details than the Apostles, so it surprised me when friend pointed out the clause "he descended into hell" is in the Apostle's creed, but not the Nicene we say on Sunday. Why?

-Alan Wostenberg
Probably because it was irrelevant to early Christian debates. The Nicene creed was formulated against specific heresies and the words used are oriented specifiically toward those heresies. So you have the doctrine of the Trinity laid out in the creed. At Nicaea they added several points that were offensive to Arius including Homoousius, begotten not made, and etc. At the Council of Constantinople they added the phrase "of whose kingdom there shall be no end" to combat the modalism of Marcellus and they expanded the part on the Holy Spirit and the Church to battle 'the Spirit fighters' who accepted the divinity of Christ but rejected the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
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  #8  
Old Nov 21, '09, 8:08 pm
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
Thanks, David, and everybody else, for the answers.

I understand the creeds to be finely crafted legal documents in which each clause eliminates this or that heresy. The Catechism and other sources shed much light on what the omitted clause means, and why it is important.

So I am surprised it's not known why the particular clause "descendit ad infernos" is omitted in the Nicene-Constantanople creed we've been saying at Mass for a thousand years. Hard to believe "it just happened". Surely somebody removed it for a reason! I'll do some offline reading, and get back if I find anything.

Meanwhile, a theory: perhaps the clause dropped because it was confusing, with the english translation "he descended to hell" which means, according to the CCC not the hell of the damned, for "Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him"
Maybe as I said it was not eliminated but simply never put in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed to begin with.
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  #9  
Old Nov 22, '09, 11:13 pm
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DavidFilmer DavidFilmer is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

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Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
I understand the creeds to be finely crafted legal documents in which each clause eliminates this or that heresy.
Well, I'm not sure how "fine" they are. The original creed of Nicea was intended to suppress the Arian heresy. But the Church was not very satisfied with the results. So the Council at Constantanople (convened with the same objective as Nicea) tried again, with an expanded version of the original creed (with much greater success).

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Originally Posted by Alan Wostenberg View Post
Surely somebody removed it for a reason!
It wasn't removed. It wasn't ever there in the first place (you cannot remove what was never present). This was not something that the Arians quarreled about, so neither creed had any need to mention it.
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Popes are designated "the Great" by popular acclaim. Please join me in always referring to Pope St. John Paul-2 as "St. John Paul the Great."

Hooray!
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  #10  
Old Nov 25, '09, 9:55 am
Alan Wostenberg Alan Wostenberg is offline
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Default Re: Why was "he descended into hell" omitted in the Nicene creed?

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Originally Posted by Br. Rich SFO View Post
Maybe as I said it was not eliminated but simply never put in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed to begin with.
That seems to be the consensus. I'd assumed -- perhaps incorrectly -- the crafters of the Nicene-Constantinople creed had the apostles creed ready-at-hand, went over it line by line, amplifying this, omitting that, and the result: the The Creed Version 2.0.

What I hear you saying is it was not a revision process but a from-scratch effort?
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