Thursday, 5 February 2015

Tarmo Toom: Tractatus symboli: A Pre-Baptismal Explanation of the Creed

Tractatus symboli is a brief explanation of a variant of the Apostles’ Creed. Its critical text (Westra, 2002) is based on two manuscripts. Apart from a few brief studies of the provenance and the form of the creed, the document as a whole has never been discussed or translated.
The form of the creed does not match exactly with any known forms of the Apostles’ Creed. Nevertheless and despite the lack of any clues for dating the document in the manuscripts, the creed’s idiosyncrasies, measured against the reconstructed creedal typology, allow a conjecture that it comes from fifth-sixth century Italy.
Although some similarities with Ordo RomanusXI (e.g., the deacon conducting the liturgy by saying repeatedly, signate vos) suggest that the commentary is later than the creed, the theology of the commentary fits well with the suggested timeframe of the creed. Catechumens are taught a basic pro-Nicene theology, which among other things states the full divinity of the Son on the basis of the arguments from the common divine operatioand common attribution. The doctrine of the monarchy of the Father is stated as well. The commentary also includes a sort of preliminary form of the filioque clause.
Since the explanation of the creed occurs after catechumens have learned the creed (traditiosymboli) and before they confess it (reditio symboli), this paper suggests that Tractatus symboli is a creedal exposition which sheds some light on the process of learning the already received creed before baptism.

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