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Precreation Discourse and the Nicene Creed: Christianity Finds its Voice in the Roman Empire

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AbstractExploring the emergence of creedal statements in Christianity about non-time before creation, called precreation rhetorolect, this essay begins with the baptismal creed called the Roman Symbol and its expansion into the Apostles’ Creed. These early creeds contain wisdom, apocalyptic, and priestly rhetorolect, but no precreation rhetorolect. When the twelve statements in the Apostles’ Creed were expanded into the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the first three statements added precreation rhetorolect. God the Father Almighty not only creates heaven and earth, but God creates all things visible and invisible. Jesus Christ is not only God’s only Son, our Lord, but the Son is begotten from the Father before all time, Light from Light, and true God from true God. Being of the same substance as the Father, all things were made through the Son before he came down from heaven, the Son was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became human. With these creedal additions, a precreation storyline became the context for a lengthy chain of argumentation about belief among fourth century Christian leaders.

Affiliations: 1: Emory University 2653 Danforth Lane, Decatur, GA 30033 USA, Email:, URL:


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