Library Resources: Tools for Symbolics: Ecumenical Creeds (1409)

Common Textbooks & Reference Works


The Creeds of Christendom (3 vols). Schaff, Philip.  1876 (Repr. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1931). 

  • Although dated by now, it is still widely used.  It has been surpassed now by the Pelikan and Hotchkiss volumes, but they are still too expensive ($500+) for most to buy.  The price of Schaff cannot be beat (available online for  RES BT990 .S29 1983


Creeds & confessions of faith in the Christian tradition. Pelikan, Jaroslav & Valerie Hotchkiss. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 

  • The new standard reference collection of creeds and confessions from early church up to present day.  Valuable historical introductions to each creed.  Don’t miss the Comparative Creedal Syndogmaticon in the back of volume 3.  It is a masterful cross-reference system to all major creeds and confessions, organized within the framework of the Nicene Creed.  There’s no other cross-reference tool like it!  REF BT990 .C64 2003

 Credo. Pelikan, Jaroslav. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003. 

  • A collection of essays on the history and significance of creeds in general.  Extensive answer to the question: why does the church have creeds?  REF BT990 .C64 2003

 Creeds of the churches : a reader in Christian doctrine from the Bible to the present (3rd ed).  Leith, John H. 

  • A wisely selected collection of common creeds from the early church until the present.  Various traditions are represented.  Brief historical introductions increase the value of this textbook.  Not as comprehensive as Schaff or Pelikan & Hotchkiss.  But if you are looking for a more compact collection of creeds, this work is valuable.  BT990 .C655 1963

 Early Christian Creeds. Kelly, J.N.D.(Longman, 3d ed. 1972 or later). 

  • Still the classis textbook on the formation of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed.  See next entry for Athanasian Creed.  BT990.K44 

 The Athanasian Creed. Kelly, J.N.D. (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1964).

  • A companion volume to Kelly’s Early Christian Creeds which covers the last of the three ecumenical symbols.  BT 995.K44

Other Studies

Apostles’ Creed


The Apostles’ Creed: origin, history, and some early commentaries.  Westra, Liuwe H. (1966). 

  • Unparalleled, meticulous study of the historical development of the Apostles’ Creed.  Not an easy read, but no one has more data than Westra.  BT993.3 .W47 A6

The Apostles’ Creed and Its Early Christian Context. Ashwin-Siejkowski, Piotr (2009). 

  • Explanation of the articles of the creed with a strong emphasis on the historical context of each article.  BT993.3 .A84 (also as eBook)

A commentary on the Apostles’ Creed.  Rufinus of Aquileia (1954). Ancient Christian Writers. 

  • This is the famous commentary on the Creed by one of the early church fathers.  It compares the local, Aquileian creed to the Old Roman Creed, a predecessor of the Apostles’ Creed.  BR60 .A52 v.20

An Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed.  Olevianus, Caspar (2009). 

  • Fascinating 16th century explanation of the creed by one of the co-authors of the Heidelberg Catechism.  Excellent reading. BX9419.O4 G47

The Christian Faith: An Essay on the Structure of the Apostles’ Creed.  de Lubac, Henri (1969). 

  • Study of the Trinitarian structure of the Apostles’ Creed from a Roman Catholic perspective.  Also includes other studies on the legend of the authorship of the creed and various articles, or portions of articles, in the creed.  BT993.2 .L813

The Apostles’ Creed.  Witsius, Herman. 

  • A classis and comprehensive study of the articles of the Apostles’ Creed.  The exposition is lengthy, so the reader is encouraged not to lose sight of the forest for the trees.  However, there is lots of material to digest.  BT992 .W513

We Believe: Recovering the Essentials of the Apostles’ Creed. Horton, Michael (1998). 

  • Contemporary, popular explanation of the basic doctrines confessed in the creed.  BT993.2 .H67 W4

What We Believe: An Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed.  Venema, Cornelis P. (1996).

  • Solid, straightforward, popular explanation of the creed.  BT993.2 .V46

The Meaning of Sanctorum Communio.  Benko, Stephen. 

  • Detailed academic dissertation focusing solely on the phrase “the communion of saints.”  BT993.2 .B413

Nicene Creed

Nicene Christianity.  Seitz, Christopher R., ed. (2001). 

  • Various authors from various backgrounds explore the content of the Nicene Creed with a view to how the historic, orthodox faith can be applied in today’s world.  BT999 .N53

The Creed.  Johnson, Luke Timothy (2003). 

  • A look at the origins, as well as contemporary application, of the articles of the Nicene Creed.  Written from a Roman Catholic perspective.  BT999 .J64 C7

Evangelicals and Nicene Faith.  George, Timothy, ed. (2011). 

  • Collection of conference papers dealing with various aspects of the history and content of the Nicene Creed.  Published as a memorial volume for Jaroslav Pelikan, the well-known church historian and author of Creeds & Confessions (see above). BT999 .E93

Clues to the Nicene Creed: A Brief Outline of the Faith. Willis, David (2005). 

  • A Reformed author takes a close and fresh look at the contents and significance of the Nicene Creed.  BT999 .W55

Athanasian Creed

Note: there is not as much written on the Athanasian Creed as compared to the other ecumenical creeds.  Other than Kelly’s classic textbook (see above), what is written tends to be old, or found in journal articles.  Below is a list of such resources.  For further bibliography see pages ix-x in Kelly’s book.

Older, Public Domain Books

A Critical History of the Athanasian Creed.  Waterland, Daniel (1728).  

The Athanasian Creed.  Burn, A.E. (1918). 

The Athanasian Creed, By Whom Written and by Whom Published. Ffoulkes, E.S. (1871). 

  • A classic study dedicated to the authorship of the Athanasian Creed.

The Damnatory Clauses of the Athanasian Creed, Rationally Explained.  MacColl, Malcolm (1872). 

Journal Articles

“Calvin's view of the Athanasian and Nicene creeds.” Reynolds, Stephen M.  Westminster Theological Journal, 23 no 1 N 1960, p 33-37. 

  • (full text available via ATLAS)

“Introducing the Athanasian Creed.” Wilken, Robert L.  Currents in Theology and Mission, 6 no 1 F 1979, p 4-10. 

  • (full text available via ATLAS)

“The Origin and Terminology of the Athanasian Creed.” Krueger, Robert.