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Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
Orthodox dogmatic theology

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B. Expositions of Christian teaching

The symbolical books.

The interpretations of the Symbol of Faith, or the “Symbolic Guides” (from the Greek symballo,

meaning “to unite;” symbolon, a uniting or conditional sign) of the Orthodox Faith, in the

common meaning of this term, are those expositions of Christian faith which are given in the

Book of Canons of the Holy Apostles, the Holy Local and Ecumenical Councils, and the Holy

Fathers. The theology of the Russian Church also makes use, as symbolical books, of those two

expositions of the Faith which in more recent times were evoked by the need to present the Orthodox

Christian teaching against the teaching of the unorthodox confessions of the second millennium.

These books are: The Confession of the Orthodox Faith compiled by the Patriarch of

Jerusalem, Dositheus, which was read and approved at the Council of Jerusalem in 1672 and,

fifty years later, in answer to the inquiry received from the Anglican Church, was sent to that

church in the name of all the Eastern Patriarchs and is therefore more widely known under the

name of “The Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith.” Also included in this

category is The Orthodox Confession of Peter Mogila, Metropolitan of Kiev, which was examined

and corrected at two local councils, that of Kiev in 1640 and Jassy in 1643, and then approved

by four Ecumenical Patriarchs and the Russian Patriarchs Joachim and Adrian. The Orthodox

Christian Catechism of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow enjoys a similar importance in

the Russian Church, particularly the part which contains an exposition of the Symbol of Faith.

This Catechism was “examined and approved by the Holy Synod and published for instruction in

schools and for the use of all Orthodox Christians.”

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