Learn the faith and profess it; receive it and keep it—but only the Creed which the Church will now deliver to you, the Creed which is firmly based on the whole of Scripture. For since not everyone is able to read the Scriptures, but some are prevented from learning them by illiteracy, others by lack of time, we summarize the whole teaching of the faith in a few lines, so that ignorance will not lead you to lose your souls. I want you to memorize it word for word, and to recite it very carefully among yourselves. Do not write it down on paper, but inscribe it in your memories and in your hearts… Keep it as food for your journey at every moment of your life, and never accept another Creed apart from it, even if we ourselves change our minds and contradict what we are teaching now… For ‘if we or an angel from heaven preach to you a gospel which is opposed to what you have been taught, let him be accursed’ (Galatians 1:8)… For the articles of the Creed were not put together by human choice; the most important doctrines were collected from the whole of Scripture to make a single exposition of the faith. ~St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis 5.12
Cyril was the bishop of Jerusalem from 350 to 386. He is remembered today primarily for a series a lectures he delivered to candidates there who were preparing for baptism on the Easter Vigil, of which this text forms a part. He is also known for the significant liturgical reforms he supervised in the Jerusalem church. One of his important contributions was his emphasis on his church’s uniquely robust creed, which many modern scholars theorize formed the base of the Nicene Creed we recite to this day. It is this base creed that Cyril encourages his catechumens to memorize here.
The editor of the volume from which this translation is taken tells us that “Cyril subscribed to a form of sola scriptura doctrine.” Cyril stated “categorically that every doctrinal statement must be based on the Scriptures,” as for example in Catechesis 4.17 and Catechesis 16.24. Cyril was indeed unequivocal on this point, going so far as to recommend to his catechumens that books reckoned “apocryphal” by the Church should not be read at all. This passage tells us, however, that Cyril also understands unequivocally that the Scriptures are only read properly as interpreted by the Church. For ease of access, the Church has provided a summary of the proper interpretation in the form of a creed. So sacred is even this interpretation—this creed—that Cyril cautions his catechumens to never accept a different creed even if the bishops themselves ever give them a new one, equating his warning with Paul’s own about false gospels. Indeed, the creed is not fundamentally a human invention at all, in as much as it only says in summary fashion what the whole of Scripture says.
The creed serves its function in a number of ways. First and most importantly, it provides a concise summary of Scripture, upon which the Church’s doctrine has its ultimate normative foundation. This summary then enables the Church to read the Bible in its constituent parts faithfully, so that the relationship between Scripture and creed is a dynamic interactive one; Scripture produces creed, creed illumines Scripture. Second, it does this to prevent God’s people from being led astray by fanciful heresies or elaborate arguments. Cyril himself had witnessed many people fall under the influence of Arian bishops and their strange creeds which denied the full divinity of Jesus, and his effort to safeguard his own catechumens from falling victim to a similar fate explains why he was so adamant that any other creed was invalid. Third, to maximize its effect the believer is exhorted to memorize it and “inscribe it” on their hearts, in echo of the biblical notion of God’s law being inscribed on human hearts in the New Covenant age. In this way, it will be available for reference in “every moment of life.”
Even as Cyril articulates with potency the unique role of Scripture in the Church’s doctrinal and catechetical task, in his view Scripture cannot be read faithfully without the Creed, the Church’s interpretation of Scripture in summary. Likewise when we read Scripture, we do not read it alone, but with the witness of the Church from ages past. As we affirm that Scripture by itself “contains all things necessary to salvation,” we nevertheless stand in the Church’s historic reading of the same that the Creed represents. It is the Creed by which we know we are reading Scripture appropriately and believing the faith it reveals correctly.
 What we call the “Nicene Creed” was probably first drafted at Constantinople in 381. It is thus known to scholars as the “Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed” to distinguish it from the creed drafted at the first Council of Nicaea in 325, of which it is a significant expansion.
 Yarnold, 56.
 Catechesis 4.33. Read on to see Cyril’s approved list, both for the Old Testament (4.35) and the New (4.36).
 Cyril lived in an age when bishops were being deposed and replaced by meddling (and often heretical) emperors with nauseating frequency. The “we” here then likely refers to bishops in general. Cyril is thus trying to proactively prepare his flock to maintain the orthodox faith should he himself ever be deposed under similar circumstances (as in fact he was on two separate occasions!).