From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ichthys: Something fishy in ancient times

'Fish of the Living'  (early 3rd century)
Long before “the sign of the fish” became a sacred Christian symbol, Greek and Roman paganism had made it their own.

Wikipedia explains that Ichthys (sometimes called Aphrodite, Pelagia, Tirgata or Delphine) was considered to be the offspring of an ancient sea goddess.  Aquatic Ichthys often symbolized the womb and fertility.  Other non-Christian traditions equated Ichthys with “reincarnation and the life force.”

Early Christians who were being persecuted needed a secret way of identifying one another and meeting sites.  They developed an acronym that was rooted in these five Greek letters: Iota (the first letter of Iesous or “Jesus”), Chi (the first letter of Christos or “Christ”), Theta (the first letter of Theos or “God”), Upsilon (the first letter of (h)uios or “Son”), and Sigma (the first letter of soter or “Savior”).

Put these five letters together, and they sound like Ichthys or “Fish.”  “Jesus Christ, Savior Son of God” therefore became associated with IchthysThis Christian symbol can still be found on emblems and jewelry the world over.

Copyright April 6, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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