Saturday, July 12, 2008

Why Christians Like Fish

No, this isn't taken during a snorkeling session (remember, I'm in Albuquerque) but at the Bio-Park Aquarium on my i-phone. The huge shark tank hosts a number of aquatic species that all lurk close enough to the glass so as to interact with us outsiders. So why did the early Christians use a fish as a symbol of their faith? During the first two or three centuries the church found itself under extreme persecution. It soon was dangerous to be associated with Christianity in any form.So to identify fellow believers one person would draw the upper curve of the fish symbol. It was very easy to inscribe on the sand or with a rock on stone.

Recognizing the symbol, another person to identify himself/herself as a Christian would complete the second (or bottom) half of the fish.

But why the symbol of a fish? We know that among the earliest Christian symbols was an anchor or a peacock (symbolizing new life). Why a fish? Simply because the word for fish in Greek is ichthys, spelled with 5 letters in Greek (the english equivalent would look like this: i-ch-th-y-s and these 5 letters formed an accrostic meaning to these early Christian believers (that is, each of the five letters stood for a word that embodied their faith). Here was their declaration: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, which means "Jesus Christ, God, Son, Savior!" So next time, smile at that fish you see in the aquarium, and say, "I like fish--ALOT!"

1 comment:

lifesong72 said...

I always wondered about that. Thanks!