The Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult) is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicumque vult, is taken from the opening words "Whosoever wishes." The Athanasian Creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century AD. It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated, and differs from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan and Apostles' Creeds in the inclusion of anathemas, or condemnations of those who disagree with the Creed (like the original Nicene Creed).
Widely accepted among Western Christians, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Church and most liturgical Protestant denominations, the Athanasian Creed has been used in public worship less and less frequently. The creed has never gained much acceptance among Eastern Christians.
A medieval account credited Athanasius of Alexandria, the famous defender of Nicene theology, as the author of the Creed. According to this account, Athanasius composed it during his exile in Rome, and presented it to Pope Julius I as a witness to his orthodoxy. This traditional attribution of the Creed to Athanasius was first called into question in 1642 by Dutch Protestant theologian G.J. Voss, and it has since been widely accepted by modern scholars that the creed was not authored by Athanasius. Athanasius' name seems to have become attached to the creed as a sign of its strong declaration of Trinitarian faith. The reasoning for rejecting Athanasius as the author usually relies on a combination of the following:
The use of the Creed in a sermon by Caesarius of Arles, as well as a theological resemblance to works by Vincent of Lérins, point to Southern Gaul as its origin. The most likely time frame is in the late fifth or early sixth century AD - at least 100 years after Athanasius. The theology of the creed is firmly rooted in the Augustinian tradition, using exact terminology of Augustine's On the Trinity (published 415 AD). In the late 19th century, there was a great deal of speculation about who might have authored the creed, with suggestions including Ambrose of Milan, Venantius Fortunatus, and Hilary of Poitiers, among others. The 1940 discovery of a lost work by Vincent of Lérins, which bears a striking similarity to much of the language of the Athanasian Creed, have led many to conclude that the creed originated either with Vincent or with his students. For example, in the authoritative modern monograph about the creed, J.N.D. Kelly asserts that Vincent of Lérin was not its author, but that it may have come from the same milieu, namely the area of Lérins in southern Gaul. The oldest surviving manuscripts of the Athanasian Creed date from the late 8th century.
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