Olesya Sidorova, Postgraduate student, Ss. Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute of Post-Graduate Studies, Assistance Manager, SFI Publishing office (Moscow)
This article analyses the early Christian experience of interpreting the ninth article of the Creed in the catechetical practice of the mid-fourth and early fifth centuries (based on the example of the catechetical homilies of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, St. Ambrosius Mediolanensis and St. Augustine of Hippo). Analysis of these sources reveals the conventional structure of the conversation with the enlightened about the Church, including a definition, description of its main properties and the interpretation of meaningful images. This sequence is found in its entirety in St. Cyril of Jerusalem and Theodore of Mopsuestia, and in part in most catechetical sources of the period. The Church is defined as the gathering of the faithful before God, with an emphasis on the Church as God’s people, rather than the place where they meet (building, etc.). A study of the interpretation of the properties of the Church in conversations on the Creed has not revealed any general order, occurs with varying degrees of detail, and sometimes focusing only on individual properties. Catholicity is described more than other properties, both in the sense of “generality” and “universality” and in the sense of “truthfulness” and “orthodoxy”. Testimony to the enlightened about the Church is supplemented by the disclosure of common Christian images — the Body of Christ, the Bride and the Mother. The fact that these pastors interpret these images while presenting the Creed reveals their kerygmatic (rather than dogmatic or sacramental) teaching of spiritual rebirth in baptism and the resurrection from the dead. The eucharistic dimension of the church gathering, characteristic of the sacramental homilies, is not found in the interpretation of the Creed.
Keywords: theology, catechetics , patristics, testimony about the Church, catechetical homilies, catechesis, the Creed, properties of the Church, images of the Church