The Sunday Bun
L. A. Marzulli
I had a weird dream last night that followed a nightmare that I don’t remember. The Wifey awakened me as I was groaning in my sleep. She said it sounded like I was battling the forces of evil. The enemy never sleeps and even though I put my armor on before I went to bed and we prayed, it’s no guarantee for a peaceful sleep.
After she awakened me I got up and checked on my Mom who is in the process of leaving this world. She’s 95 and is now on morphine to ease the pain as her body is shutting down. Neither Peggy or I have ever experienced someone actually dying in our midst. We are on a “death-watch.”
I gave Mom some water and rolled her over on her other side to lessen the chance of bed-sores and then went back to bed. Then I had another dream. This is all I remember of it.
There was a large fish and out of its mouth came a gushing stream of water. I awakened from that dream around 2am and checked on Mom again. As I was doing this I thought about the fish symbol the Ichthus. And thus, we have an excursion into Church history and another Sunday Bun.
The History of the Ichthus
by Gregory B. Dill
You see them on the back of automobiles everywhere. Occasionally, you see them worn on necklaces or bracelets. I’ve even seen them as key chains and on hats. Even the evolutionists show off this symbol with the name “Darwin” aptly inscribed upon it. I’ve even seen these mysterious symbols with a small, pointy, dorsal fin protruding off the top of one of these, resembling a shark.
Those little fish symbols. Just what are they? What do they mean? What are they suppose to symbolize?
The “ichthus”, when displayed properly should look like either of the four figures displayed below:
Just what does the Ichthus mean?
Ichthus (ikh-thoos) or ichthys is the Greek word simply meaning “fish”.
The Greek spelling for ichthus is — These are the first letters of the Greek words Iesous (Iota), Christos (Chi), Theou (Theta), Uios (Upsilon), and Sotor (Sigma). The English translation is IXOYE. The five Greek word stand for the English words meaning, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior” or “Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior“.
This symbol was used primarily amongst Christians of the early church years (1st and 2nd century A.D.) The symbol was introduced from Alexandria, Egypt; which at the time, was a very heavily populated seaport. It was the port in which many goods were brought over from the European continent. Because of this, it was first used by the peoples of the sea as a symbol of a familiar deity, in this case, Jesus Christ.
The symbol was later used as a means of identifying or acknowledging a fellow believer in Christ without the need for any verbal communication being exchanged. Why was this necessary?
During the reign of Emperor Nero (54 A.D.- 68 A.D.), and throughout the reign of subsequent evil emperors of the Roman Empire, Christians were commonly persecuted, tortured, and put to death because of their faith in Christ Jesus. Emperor Nero himself personally despised Christians. He blamed them for the great fire of A.D. 64 which burned nearly half of Rome. It was during Nero’s persecutions that both Peter and Paul are thought to have perished.
Spread throughout the empire, Roman soldiers were stationed everywhere to keep order and to act as police. This included keeping a watchful eye on the happenings of the daily lives of the people. Often times, when a soldier spotted a Christian, he would report it to his superiors who in turn would be ordered to arrest the Christian and to be brought in for interrogation. The Christian would then be harassed and tortured in order for them to recant and to submit to the many polytheistic religions of Rome. In most cases death would be the final end.
In order to prevent this unnecessary capture and persecution, Christians would often draw an ichthus in the dirt, mud, sand, or on the walls of caves to let another Christian know that he too was a fellow believer of Christ and that it was safe to talk about their faith without the fear of being turned in.
It wasn’t until around 307 A.D. under the reign of Constantine that Christians were no longer persecuted. During his reign (307 A.D. – 337 A.D.) he declared Christianity as the official religion of the state which was a direct result of his own conversion to Christianity, although his perspective of Christianity was somewhat polluted with pagan ideology. Nevertheless, Christians, in general, were spared from persecution – at least for the time being. Shortly after the Constantine dynasty ended, a successor, Julian the Apostate (360 A.D. – 363 A.D.), would later reinstate the pagan religions of Rome as the state religion and the protection of Christians was nullified.
Today, Christians all throughout the world have brought back to life this most interesting and historic symbol. Christians today proudly show off the symbol that their spiritual ancestors once boldly and courageously showed to fellow believers centuries ago. So the next time you pass by a vehicle proudly displaying the ichthus, wave and acknowledge your fellow brother or sister. After all they’re family!