A fishy tale

The fish has been a popular Christian symbol since like the year dot.

I was all Greek’d out on the way home last night after classes. I’m not saying that Greek’s not a great language to study and learn, albeit difficult because of how different it is to my own home tongue but contracted verbs and demonstrative pronouns had temporarily sapped the pleasure out of it for me. So, intellectually drained, I decided to not continue my bedside reading of A WORD FOR THE WORLD – Calvin on the Extent of the Atonement which would have required far to much brainpower and spent the evening on something light weight: the graphical header of this blog. In the end all I did was modify the existing header adding the Greek word ιχθυς (fish) to the lead fishy. Hahaha, you just can’t get away from it can you?

Greek has capitals and lowercase letters. The capitaliaztion of ιχθυς (fish) is ΙΧΘΥΣ. Much of the Gospel account revolved around fish, fishing and fishermen. My favorite passage in Scripture is in the 21st chapter of John. It’s the response of Peter when John point’s out that the risen Christ is on the shore. They we were fishing at the time:

3 Simon Peter *said to them, “I am going fishing.” They *said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus *said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find {a catch.}” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved *said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped {for work),} and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net {full} of fish.

Man, I want to be a Peter. Anyway, early Christians identified themselves by using the symbol of the fish. Part of this could have been because it makes a funky acrostic (a word formed from the first letters of several words): “Jesus Christ, God’s son, savior”

Ι Iota (i) is the first letter of Ἰησοῦς Iēsous is the Greek word for Jesus
Χ Chi (kh) is the first letter of Χριστóς Khristos is the Greek word for Christ or anointed
Θ Theta (th) is the first letter of Θεοῦ Theou is the Greek word for God’s (the reason why it’s God’s and not God is something I could tell you but I don’t think you’d care)
Υ Upsilon (u) is the first letter of Υἱός huios is the Greek word for Son
Σ Sigma (s) is the first letter of Σωτήρ sōtēr is the Greek word for Savior

The big question I’ve got is: How should Christian be identifiable by the world and each other?


8 thoughts on “A fishy tale

  1. I believe Jesus answers your question: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. :)

    But, seriously speaking- while symbolism has it’s place (especially for early Christians, who couldn’t just write “church” on their doors) I think it becomes a trap of it’s own. It’s too easy for people to start idolizing the trappings of Christianity without embracing it’s practice- which would be that loving each other thing Jesus seemed pretty big on.

  2. In answer to your “big question” how does it sound to add…..

    Matt 7:16-20
    16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 ” Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.

    …. to Lindsay’s suggestion

    • Haha,

      Trust you to come up with that.

      This evening while describing ΙΧΘΥΣ to someone I accidently called it an acrylic. I think he thought I was talking about paint!

      Anyone who wants to check out the coolest Anglican clown fish in the world can go to: http://sbreef.blogspot.com/.

      If we’re talking about the same thing then this is a first time for me . I’m quite thrilled.

      Thanks Sharkbait,


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