Why does the Creed of Nicea say “the third day he rose again?”

In class this morning, Monsignor James asked why does the Creed of Nicea say “the third day he rose again?”

The creed as expressed by the First Council of Nicea (A.D. 325)

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten (γεννηθέντα), not made, being of one substance (ὁμοούσιον, consubstantialem) with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not (ἤν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν), or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion — all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.

Looking first at the English (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/again), we see in the American Heritage dictionary again doesn’t mean only “a subsequent time,”

  1. Once more; anew: Try again.
  2. To a previous place, position, or state: left home but went back again.
  3. Furthermore; moreover: Again, we need to collect more data.
  4. On the other hand: She might go, and again she might not.
  5. In return; in response: paid him again.

In this case, “again” indicates “to a previous place, position, or state”, or “anew”. Jesus was returning to his original state of being alive.

We use this in common language as well, as in “I tripped and fell, but picked myself up again, dusted off my knees, and looked around to see who might have noticed.”

This seems to be consistent with my VERYrudimentary understanding of the Latin and original Greek.

One thought on “Why does the Creed of Nicea say “the third day he rose again?”

  1. Juan Cavazos

    e, i think you are correct in saying that it is in the english translation that creates the meaning problem because of the way we use the word today. in spanish it says “y resucito al tercer dia” which translated word for word means “and he resurrected on the third day” so in spanish it is a little clearer.

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