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Jesus Fish/ΙΧΘΥΣ

What is the meaning of the ΙΧΘΥΣ and the Jesus Fish?

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Meaning of ΙΧΘΥΣ and the Jesus Fish

Among the symbols employed by the primitive Christians, that of the fish ranks probably first in importance. While the use of the fish in pagan art as a purely decorative sign is ancient and constant, the earliest literary reference to the symbolic fish is made by Clement of Alexandria, born about 150, who recommends his readers (Paedagogus, III, xi) to have their seals engraved with a dove or a fish. Clement did not consider it necessary to give any reason for this recommendation, from which it may be safely be inferred that the meaning of both symbols was unnecessary. Indeed, from monumental sources we know that the symbolic fish was familiar to Christians long before the famous Alexandrian was born; in such Roman monuments as the Capella Greca and the Sacrament Chapels of the catacomb of St. Callistus, the fish was depicted as a symbol in the first decades of the second century.

The symbol itself may have been suggested by the miraculous multification of the loaves and fishes or the repast of the seven Disciples, after the Resurrection, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:9), but its popularity among Christians was due principally, it would seem, to the famous acrostic consisting of the initial letters of five Greek words forming the word for fish (Ichthys), which words briefly but clearly described the character of Christ and His claim to the worship of believers: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour. It is not improbable that this Christian formula originated in Alexandria, and was intended as a protest against the pagan apotheosis of the emperors; on a coin from Alexandria of the reign of Domitian (81-96) this emperor is styled Theou Yios (Son of God).

The word Ichthys, then, as well as the representation of a fish, held for Christians a meaning of the highest significance; it was a brief profession of faith in the divinity of Christ, the Redeemer of mankind. Believers in this mystic Ichthys were themselves "little fishes", according to the well-known passage of Tertullian (De baptismo, c. 1): "we, little fishes, after the image of our Ichthys, Jesus Christ, are born in the water".

The information above is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Please note: IXOYE is an English variant. The letters are Greek (Iota Chi Theta Upsilon Sigma) and should be spelled ΙΧΘΥΣ

Religious Tattoos makes no guarantees concerning translations in tattoo pictures. The onus to verify a translation rests with the person who wishes to get a tattoo.

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