The Confession of St Jacob Baradeus

Introduction by Prof. George Schodde

The confession, of which we here give a translation, has been preserved by his spiritual children in Ethiopia. The original and a German transla­tion were published in the “Zeitschrift der Deutsch-morgenlandischen Gesellschaft,” 1876, pp. 417-466, by Dr. Comill, and from the former this first English version has been made. The editor of the Ethiopic text has satisfactorily proved the authenticity and reliable character of the document. This Confession forms a part of the standards of faith in the Ethiopic Church—the so-called “Faith of the Fathers”—a large collection of patristic lore of the Monophysitic Church, compiled in Arabic, by Paul Eba Regia, about 1000 A.D.


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the one God, we will begin, with the help of God and the blessedness of His assistance, to write the Confession of Faith of the holy and great lord, Jacob Baradaeus, the Patriarch of the Jacobites of Syria, and Egypt, and Ethiopia. He was bishop in the city of Edessa. The blessing of his prayer be with us! Amen.

The holy man said, when a controversy had arisen among the Chris­tians, and Satan, the hater of the good, divided them—and thereby the Word of our Lord was fulfilled which He speaks in the Old and the New (Testament). For He says in the holy Gospel: Every kingdom which is divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every house, if it is divided against itself, is destroyed. This is the truth of His words in the New (Testament). And His words in the Old: Wisdom builds a house, but foolishness tears it down. And the holy Lord Jacob said: I myself saw and beheld this impious schism and condemnable destruc­tion which destroys the Christian churches and others; but I ask of the Lord Christ for this that He may reward those who remain firm in these and similar days, until the Lord Christ comes to judge the living and the dead. To Him be glory evermore, to all eternity! Amen.

The Lord Jacob, of whom we are speaking, spoke and said in his confession of faith, the true and only one that is orthodox. He said: I believe and confess and say: I believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, the one God, whose Godship is one and whose glory is one and whose power is one and whom (men) worship in one majesty; one Creator and whose creature is one, one his good pleasure and one his will, one his beginning and one his supremacy, one his government and one his power, one his substance and one his honour, he who is not approachable and is not reached and cannot be spoken to, like images and like formed things, and cannot be described, whom the thoughts of these attempting cannot attain, nor the thoughts of the searchers nor the thoughts of the reasoners nor the thoughts of the poets. One in his divinity and divided into three hypostases which are his three persons, equal in one power, in one glory and in one nature, in one good pleasure and in one substance and in one honour. And I believe that he is one God in three hypostases, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God.

And I believe that he is one in Godship and three in hypostases; three in one and one in three, division in the union and union in the division; no separation between his wisdom and reason and life. I say and believe and confess that the Father is the wisdom and the Son the reason and the Holy Spirit the life, and again I say and believe and confess that the Father is the begetter but is not the begotten, and to him alone evermore and to eter­nity belongs begetting and fatherhood. And further I say and believe and confess that the Son is the begotten one who is not a begetter and to him alone belongs the state of being begotten and the sonship. And I believe and say and confess that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and takes from the Son but is not a Son, and to him alone belongs the state of proceeding. And I believe that the Father did not precede the Son and the Holy Spirit in time and not in the state of Godship. And I believe that the Son did not precede the Father and the Holy Spirit in time and not in the state of Godship. And I believe that one hypostasis is not smaller or less, neither in honour nor in the state of Godship. I say and believe in three hypostases and one God, one good pleasure and one power and one beginning. No beginning and no end, embracing all things and powerful over all things, and he knows all things that are in heaven or on earth; he knows the weight of the moun­tains and each single ones, he being to eternity, and he knows the beings, the Creator of beings, the God of beings, who is hidden from the beings, and near to the beings, veiled from the beings, and far from the beings, known by all beings, and there is nothing which is not held by his hand.

The Father is God from eternity, above the Son there is no God, and the Holy Spirit is the completion of the state of Godship. And when we say, “the Father is God,” we do not mean him without his Son and his Holy Spirit. And when we say, “the Holy Spirit is God,” we do not mean him without the Father and the Son. And again, I say, that God is the eternal grace which is in him and the love of the Son of Man and the long-suffering of the Holy Spirit.

And when he saw that sin increased and destroyed the creatures, and all creation served Satan, and their hearts went astray on the thoughts of idolatry and this work  was tramped under foot, and their associations were scattered and the hope ceased, he punished them first by their expul­sion from the garden of bliss, in order that the children of Adam should turn to their God and should seek forgiveness from him. But the enemy became powerful over the elder of them, and he slew his brother and destroyed him with words of blasphemy and did not repent. And their children became corrupt according to the word of the preacher, he punished them with the water of the deluge and none of them was saved except Noah (and he made a ship for our deliver­ance out of wood that does not rot), and he destroyed them by the drowning of all their generations. And again, he punished the people of Sodom and Gomorrah by the burning of fire. And in the days of Joseph he destroyed with hunger the children of Israel, but they returned to their fluctuation and increased exceedingly their sins. Against them Paul, the apostle, is a witness, saying: The Lord has spoken to our fathers through the prophets. And in all this the Lord was waiting for the repentance of the creatures; for the restoration of the creatures is impossible except by their Creator; for a crystal vessel, if it has been broken, cannot be repaired except by its maker.

And when the time arrived, when the paternal mercy became great over the human creature, the reason-hypostasis, which is the eternal Word, descended without being separated from the throne of his glory. And his descent and association with us was by the announcement of Gabriel, the messenger between us and the Virgin Mary. And he went before him and announced him, and said to her: Rejoice, O thou filled with grace, the Lord is with thee, thou blessed among women. And this was a thing too difficult to be understood for the hearts of the children of men, and the incarnation of their Creator in the flesh of the creatures; but this took place only by his will. And he descended from his eternal existence, no eye seeing him, nor was he seen in the time of bis descent. And he dwelt in the womb of the Virgin Mary, as he knew it himself, and his Father and his Holy Spirit.

And from her he became flesh, and appeared in pure and holy flesh, as this united with his divinity without change or mixture. The fire of his Godship did not burn his flesh, and the cold­ness of his flesh did not extinguish his divinity. His divinity was not changed into his condition of flesh, as the gold in the smelting oven is not changed into silver, and was not mixed as vinegar is mixed with honey, or as honey with mead; and again, it was not mixed in the similitude of the mixing of the bitter with the sweet; but he was born of the Virgin Mary, her virginity being sealed (preserved), like the birth of a look from the eye, and like the birth of sweat (or heat) from the body, and like the birth of a picture of a form from the mirror; the look does not break the eye, and still comes forth, and the picture of a form does not break the mirror, and yet enters into it, and the sweat (or heat) does not break the body, and yet it comes forth, but breaks it, and does not break it.

And he came forth in human shape, with clean flesh, and with a rational soul, and with sublime understanding. And the union of the Godship with the flesh was a mysterious union, which the understanding cannot reach, and for which the thoughts cannot find pictures. His divinity was not flesh, nor was his humanity and his flesh divinity, but as it is impossible for the flesh to become spiritual like the soul, and as the soul is not able to change the nature of the flesh into a spiritual being, but they all {i.e. both) are one nature; thus the divinity does not change the humanity into its essence and the humanity does not change the divinity into its essence, and we do not call him by two names, nor two persons, nor two Gods, and not two hypostases, and not two natures, and not two Messiahs, but one Messiah and one hypostasis, and one nature, and one Son, who is born from the pure Virgin Mary.

She gave him birth while she was a virgin, and in this way we call her the mother of God, the eternal Creator, who was identical with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in substance. And he it is of whom the Apostle Paul preaches, saying: From Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ, who was called and separated and chosen to preach the Gospel of the Holy God, who was born in the flesh from the seed of the house of David, and it became known that he was the Son of God. And I believe that he is light which is from the light, and God who is from God in truth. And he did the deeds of God, signs and miracles, in the weak flesh. And his divine nature was not separated, while performing signs and miracles, from the weak human nature, and (men) did not perceive the divine nature by itself without the human when he performed miracles in his union with the divine nature.

And I believe that he as one in his divine and in his human nature performed signs and miracles as God. He slept in the flesh, his divine nature being united with it. He ate and drank in the flesh, his divine nature being united with it. He suffered and was crucified and died and was buried in the flesh, his divine nature being united with it, and he arose in glory. His resurrection took place in the flesh but not in his divine nature, and he it is concerning whom David, the prophet, prophesied, saying: Thou wilt not permit that thy Just One see destruction. And I say: Blessed is he who ate in the house of Abraham, and reclined (at table) in the house of Simeon and forgave the sins of the sinning woman. And I do not say that there were two, one heavenly and the other earthly, as says Arius—cursed be he!—nor do I say that there was a separation in him, as is the testimony of the cursed Nestorius; nor do I say: two hypostases, one the son of a divine nature and the other the son of Mary. And he who teaches thus, may he be cursed! If anyone says: the one creator, the other created, cursed be he! If anyone says: one strong and the other weak, cursed be he! If anyone worships the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and the flesh of Christ alone without its being united, cursed-be he!

If anyone reasons out two adorations, cursed be he! If anyone introduces a fourfold character into the Trinity, cursed be he! If anyone separates Christ from his Trinity, cursed be he! If anyone worships his divine character without the human or the human character without the divine, cursed be he! If anyone establishes a new God and an old God, cursed be he! If anyone does not praise the hidden Father and the crucified Son and does not believe in the Holy Spirit, (who is) love, cursed be he! If anyone does not adore the three hypostases in the same manner, let him be cursed! If anyone honours the Father above the Son, let him be cursed! And if anyone detracts from the honour of the hypostasis of the Son on account of the incarnation, let him be cursed! If anyone says that the Holy Spirit is not the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, let him be cursed! If anyone says: God and Christ his companion, let him be cursed! If anyone says: the Lord and the Lord, let him be cursed! If anyone says: the Creator and the Creator, let him be cursed! If anyone says: two spirits, one holy and one holy, let him be cursed! If anyone says: A God in the beginning and a later God, let him be cursed! If anyone says: A great God and a lesser God, let him be cursed. If anyone says and pollutes his mouth in saying: two natures after the union, let him be cursed! like Leo who corrupted the faith and effected this schism and created this blasphemy. If anyone says: Christ is two, let him be cursed; for he does not believe the word of Paul, the apostle, who says: One God and one Messiah and one Holy Spirit, one faith and one baptism, one God and one Word in truth.

And this word I confess and say, that the Father is the Lord and the Son is the Word of. the Lord, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Lord, one God; and I confess that the Lord and his Word and his Holy Spirit are one God. And I believe that the prophecy of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, concerning the Virgin Mary is true, that she has given birth to the son whose name is Immanuel, which is translated, God with us. And again he said by the command of the Lord in that prophecy, in which he said to him: speak to the children of Israel, Ye shall not choose many gods, I am the first God and the last God, there is no other God besides me. And to Moses the prophet he said: O Israel, I am thy God, who has led thee out of the land of Egypt, and thou shalt not make to thee any gods besides me, and thou shalt not worship any graven image or likeness, not of what is in heaven nor of what is on earth. He means: not the likeness of the stars, and not the likeness of the sun, and of the moon, and not the likeness of the children of Adam, and not the likeness of the fish of the sea, and not the likeness of crocodiles or anything similar to these. And I confess the testimony of David, the prophet, who says: When thou hearest me thou dost not add unto thyself a strange god. And I confess the testimony of Jeremiah, who says: Every god who is not the creator of the heavens and of the earth and of the sea and of all that is therein is no god.

And I believe that Christ clothed himself in flesh and I believe that he is the Word of God, and through the Word of God the heavens were created, and through the spirit of his mouth were all their hosts, as says David, the prophet. And I confess the testimony of Paul, the apostle, who says : Many are they who are called lords and gods; but we have only one God, who is the Father, in whose hands all things are held, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things that are in the heavens and on earth.  And I confess the testimony of Christ, our Lord, who says to his disciples: Go and preach to all nations, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. And he did not teach of two natures, concerning which the cursed Leo speaks. And I believe in the confession of faith of the 318 (fathers at Nice), who say: We believe in one God, the Father almighty; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and so forth; and in the Holy Ghost, the vivifying Lord. And this I confess and in this I live and in this I will die and in this is my pride. And again, I say: If anyone changes this faith, he shall return answer to the Lord on the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ will judge him; and his name will be erased from the book of life.

And I speak as is the expression of Gregorius, the theologian, who says in his homily through which he expelled Nestorius from the Christian Church of the city of Constantinople; and he ascended the chair of teaching and sat down to read it, and called his homily “the homily Theotokos Mary,” which is, “the mother of God,”  saying therein: I have no fear when I call thee the mother of God; a second highest heaven, thou art exalted above it, and thou art exalted above the cherubim, for these have not the power to look upon him, but thou hast carried him in thy arms, the divine Word. I say also with Cyril: The one who is carried on the shoulders of the four animals while filling heaven and earth, him the weak Simeon carried on his arms and asked him to give him the eternal rest, for there was none other whom he could trust for help. And there was a testimony to him in the annunciation and the birth and in the flight to the land of Egypt. And further, I am a witness to him that he was reared in Nazareth about 25 years. And further, I am a witness to him that he was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, for Hannah and Elizabeth are sisters. And again, I am a witness to him that his divine nature was united with his human nature when he was baptized with water three times. And again, I am a witness to him that John was indeed frightened when he saw the river Jordan withdrawing backward. And if David did not live at that time and was not able in person to testify saying: “What aileth thee, O thou sea, that thou fleeest? Thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?” then John had failed (to remember) for what the former had prayed. And David, the prophet, the servant of the mysteries of God, said to him: Speak, and place thy hand on his head and give him the priesthood of his Father. The Jews were not pleased with it that he should rule as king over them,but say thou: Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

And I believe that he revealed himself to his disciples on Mount Tabor in the vision of his divinity, since his human nature was united with the divine. And Moses, the prophet of stammering tongue came and accused the children of Israel before him, and Elias came and accused Isabel, and when Moses reminded the children of Israel they knew him by the stammering of his tongue, and when Elias reminded Isabel, John, the theologian, knew him. And I believe that he gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and what he binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and what he loosens on earth will be loosened in heaven. And I believe that this grant is to-day yet with those who are high priests in truth.

And I further believe that he raised from the dead the son of the widow and Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus. And I believe that he blessed the five loaves and the two fishes, and again seven loaves, and satisfied with them 4,000 souls, besides the women and children. And I believe that he went to Jerusalem riding upon an ass until he came to the great sanctuary of Solomon, and with him his disciples. And the small children cried aloud: Hosanna to the Son of David! And I believe that many men dwelt in [were in] the house of sanctity, and all cried aloud, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David! And I believe that in the temple there were many women and children on that day who were completing the time of purification, which is forty days, as the law commanded in order to bring for them two turtle-doves or two young pigeons. And when they heard the voices of praise, the children cried aloud on the bosoms of their mothers, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David! And there were among them such as had the breast in their mouth, and these cried aloud with the children, saying: Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord. And the word of the prophet who says: out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained thy praise has come true.

And I believe that he washed the feet of his disciples in the loft of Zion, that he gave them the power to journey around among the nations and lands while preaching. And I believe that he suffered and tasted of death in the flesh, as Paul in his letter is a witness, that he tasted death on the wood of the cross, being united with his divine nature. And I believe that the hand which formed our father Adam was one with the hand which the Jews nailed to the wood of the cross. And I believe that he was able and had the power to melt the nails of iron by the fire of his divine nature; but this was according to his own will. I say then with Thomas, the Apostle: My Lord and my God, nail thy will into my heart, as thy hands and thy feet were nailed to the wood of the cross. And I believe that when he was buried, he did not see destruction. And I believe that he arose in glory and ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of the inaccessible glory of his Father. And I believe that he entered the innermost part of the perfected tabernacle, which the hand of man has not made; and he did not enter with the blood of a goat or with the blood of birds or with the blood of bullocks, but with his own blood and conquered by the giving of eternal life. As Paul, the apostle, is a witness to this, thus I will be a witness to this and confess that he will come to judge the living and the dead. And there were completed over above the cross three beatitudes: the first beatitude our Lady, Mary the Virgin, saw together with John the Evangelist in the night of the first Sabbath of the light, and the angels said to Jeremiah: Blessed he who has showed us the just ones. And the second beatitude the Empress Helena saw on the day it [the cross] came from the earth. And the third beatitude when it [the cross] will come before the face of the Lord on the last day. And everyone, then, who believes in our Lord Jesus Christ in true faith will be delivered from troubles.

And I, the least of all the high priests, accept three holy councils, which were at Nice and at Constantinople and at Ephesus. And I accept further the words of the Syrian fathers, that of the Lord Jacob of Nisibis, that of the Lord Ephraim, and that of the Lord Isaac, the Syrian, and that of the Lord Simeon, the potter. And I accept the words of the Lord Jacob of Serug and the words of Philoxenus of Mabbug and the words of Jacob, the interpreter of Edessa, and the words of the Lord Barsoma, the ornament of the ascetics. And I accept the words of the twelve chapters which Cyril, the pride of teachers, spoke, and I accept the words of the Greek fathers Basil and Gregory the theologian. And I accept the homilies of John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople. And I accept the words of Clemens and the words of Sitinosf and the words of Epiphanius, the Bishop of Cyprus. And I accept the words of the holy and chosen Dioscorus the Great who was expelled by Marcion the apostate to the island Gangra, and that of the five fathers, his companions; and there is no town in that island which is inhabited by the Jews, except Gangra, and he converted them and did wonders among them until he brought them back to the right faith. And I accept the words of the believing kings, of whom the first was Abgar, who was king of Edessa, and the just Emperor Constantine and his son Rejobninos(?) and Lagatjos(?) and his children the monks Maximus and Domatios, and Theodosius the elder and his son the younger, and Zeno the just Emperor who condemned and burned the writing of the cursed Leo and declared the confession of faith of the Synod at Chalcedon wrong, and said: The curse of Christ rest upon Marcion and Pulcheria, who condemned the clothing of the monks, and upon the fourth council and upon Dorotheus and Domnus, the son of the sister of Nestorius, who believed in the fourth council and corrupted the true faith, and upon Leo their companion, and upon Barsoma of Nisibis, whom they killed with keys, and upon every one that says Christ has two natures, before the union and after the union also.

And the six anathemas with which Dioscorus cursed the fourth council, I accept and believe in them that they are right. The first anathema: The holy Dioscorus, the archbishop of Alexander; Cursed be the fourth council and all with it and all that walk according to it and all that follow it, for it has falsified the faith of the 318 fathers, by saying and adding a second nature to the Trinity. If they had not feared the curse of the 318 fathers, they would have added one to the hypostases in the manner of Nestorius. The second anathema: Behold he cursed all those that assembled themselves in the fourth council, because this has tramped upon the holy canons and changed the ordinances which the first and the middle and the last fathers had prescribed. The third anathema over the fourth council: Because the Bishops of Berytus were in it and many fathers who had taken part in the third council, and they honoured the person of Marcion and transgressed against the Lord Christ; and their hand-writings were in the protocol of the third council, that they would not turn and would not assemble another council concerning the faith, and that everyone who would assemble another council besides the third should be cursed, and among them are those who have themselves taken the curse upon their own heads. The fourth anathema over the fourth council and over all who would follow them: For these are they who have reversed the right and that which the fathers promulgated and have accepted the epistle of Leo. The fifth anathema over the fourth council and over all that would follow them: For they received the children [disciples] of Nestorius, of whom was Ibas of Edessa and Dorotheus and Domnus, the son of the sister of Nestorius; and he [i. e. Nestorius] that they should declare false the writings of Gregory the theologian, because this one made Christ as a child of three months to be God. The sixth anathema over the fourth council: For they believed in the foolishness of the faith of Nestorius and made the Lord Christ two natures different in kinds, and worship him in two ways and say that he is man individually and God alone [individually]. And on this account may the fourth council be cursed! And may our Lady Mary say: Let it be cursed! And may the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit say: Let it be cursed! And may angels and men say: Let it be cursed! And may the heavens and the earth say: Let it be cursed! And may the curse rest upon the fourth council unto eternity, as long as heaven and earth exist, and upon every one that speaks according to its words and upon every one that follows them or believes in their faith. And everyone who follows them, as soon as they repent, let them be pardoned.

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