Author Topic: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)  (Read 3571 times)

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Offline dhinuus

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In the Syriac Church (I think in all the OO churches) when we say the creed we begin with "We believe".  The following is what the 9th Century Syriac Father, Moses Bar Kephas (Moses son of Kephas who took on the name Severus when ordained a Bishop) says about this:

Quote
Again, it is right to know that the Synod set down "I believe", and not "We believe". And it set down "I believe", because it is not a prayer or a petition for that we should  pray and make petition each for other and each with other, (this) we are commanded, and this is fitting but it is a faith and a confession; and that we should believe or confess for or with each other we are not commanded, nor is it becoming; but let each one confess by himself and for himself. Therefore it is right that each person should say "I believe", as the holy Synod set down, and not "We believe".
Source: http://www.forgottenbooks.org/readbook_text/Two_Commentaries_on_the_Jacobite_1000653523/47

Is Mor Severus Moses Bar Kephas right when we says that the synod set down "I believe" and not "We believe" ? If it is, then why are we using "We believe" instead of "I believe" ?
« Last Edit: May 10, 2014, 09:02:00 PM by dhinuus »
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Offline Severian

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2014, 09:04:42 PM »
Perhaps he was simply wrong? The original text says "we." This is why the OO say "we believe," the EO say "I believe."

http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/nicene_creed.htm
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [...] These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -The Lord Jesus Christ

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Online Mor Ephrem

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2014, 09:05:07 PM »
Is Mor Severus Moses Bar Kephas right when we says that the synod set down "I believe" and not "We believe" ? If it is, then why are we using "We believe" instead of "I believe" ?

Technically, this is wrong, but it may merely be due to a translation error and not an error on Moses Bar Kipho's part.  

IIRC, Dn Dr George Kiraz has an article about the liturgical use of the Creed in a festschrift in honour of HH Zakka I.  In it, he claims that, along with the EO tradition, the "conciliar" Creed is in the first person plural, but the "liturgical" Creed is in the first person singular (which puts the Syriac practice at variance with the rest of the OO).  Apparently, the reason why the Creed is now universally printed in the liturgical books in the first person plural is because it is always begun during services by the bishop/priest, and he would use the majestic plural or "royal we" when beginning it, and the people would follow suit; this usage stuck, but is technically improper.    

Offline Severian

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2014, 09:06:01 PM »
^Ahh, interesting...
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [...] These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -The Lord Jesus Christ

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Offline Antonious Nikolas

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2014, 09:27:55 PM »
There's another discussion on this elsewhere on this forum from a few years back (early 2000s)  I searched around for it, but to no avail (I'm not too good at locating things on here using the search feature).  In it, someone provides scholarly support for "we" being the older usage and the creed being understood as a corporate (as opposed to personal) statement of faith, uniting the congregation of Christ.  Someone also asserted that people didn't start saying "I" in some churches until after Chalcedon.  I truly wish I could find it.  It was very informative.  Can anyone help?
« Last Edit: May 10, 2014, 09:28:25 PM by Antonious Nikolas »
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2014, 09:41:09 PM »
^These are the two threads that seemed most relevant, though I'm not sure if either is the one you were thinking of...

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,2008.0.html
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10855.0.html
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Offline Antonious Nikolas

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2014, 09:58:05 PM »
Thanks, Asteriktos.  I'll peruse these tomorrow after church.  :)
I'm with the camp of 13 million Americans that believe politicians are, or are controlled by, Reptilians. I think only monks can solve this problem. It doesn't seem right that they prefer to ignore it.

Offline minasoliman

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2014, 11:46:52 PM »
A loooooong time ago, in the now ended coptichymns forum site, from what I can remember in a discussion on this very issue, the original Coptic usage was "I believe", and the Arabic later seemed to have been mistaken as "We believe", which is where we based our English translations from.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2014, 11:47:19 PM by minasoliman »
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Offline Nephi

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2014, 12:36:46 AM »
Technically, this is wrong, but it may merely be due to a translation error and not an error on Moses Bar Kipho's part.  

IIRC, Dn Dr George Kiraz has an article about the liturgical use of the Creed in a festschrift in honour of HH Zakka I.  In it, he claims that, along with the EO tradition, the "conciliar" Creed is in the first person plural, but the "liturgical" Creed is in the first person singular (which puts the Syriac practice at variance with the rest of the OO).  Apparently, the reason why the Creed is now universally printed in the liturgical books in the first person plural is because it is always begun during services by the bishop/priest, and he would use the majestic plural or "royal we" when beginning it, and the people would follow suit; this usage stuck, but is technically improper.

I don't mean to sidetrack too much or anything, but how did there come to be a difference between the conciliar Creed and the liturgical Creed in general?

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2014, 08:31:44 AM »
It is natural that in the context of the Liturgy the creed should be recited in common as a congregational statement and therefore an expression of what WE believe. In the context of baptism, and before the creed was added to the Liturgy, it was and is natural that the one reciting the creed should state it as their own belief and therefore say I believe.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: "We believe" versus "I believe" Moses Bar-Kepha (Mor Severus)
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2014, 09:25:15 AM »
It might help to remember that the Creed started out as a profession for baptism (hence "I") which the Fathers of the Council adapted as a statement of what the Church believes (hence "We").
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