Fish 1

You’ve seen them everywhere: on bumper stickers, decals, t-shirts, key chains, caps, ties, etc.  Most people are aware that the “ichthus” symbol (alternately transliterated from Greek as “ichthys”) is a symbol of Christianity related to the person of Jesus Christ, but many are not aware its precise meaning.  The following is for the benefit of those who may be asking, “What’s up with the fish?”

“Ichthus” is the Greek word for “fish.”  The “ichthus” symbol is considered to be among the earliest symbols used by Christians as a means of identification and a profession of their faith in Jesus.  It was simple to draw, and relatively safe to use, especially during the years when the early church was suffering persecution.  “Ichthus” was employed as an acrostic, with each letter of the word representing the first letter of another word related to Jesus, resulting in “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”  It worked like this…

Fish 2


 A really cool variation of the symbol is pictured below, with each of the letters contained in an eight-spoked wheel.  Rather ingenious, huh?


For those who consider “ichthus” to be an obscure word, it survives in English usage.  Ichthyology is the branch of zoology that deals with fish.  An ichthyologist is one who specializes in the study of fish.

If you enjoy The Far Side, you’ll get a kick out of the following cartoon by Gary Larson.  If you never really “got” The Far Side, then never mind. “Is there an ichthyologist in the house?!?”

A Lucky Night for Goldy