Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find a phrase below, in one ancient language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

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Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς Σωτήρ
Iēsoûs Khristòs Theoû Hyiòs Sōtḗr


Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour

This Greek phrase experienced some new fame during the 1990s, in English-speaking America.

The Greek phrase can become an acronym: ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) — “fish”. From Wiki:

The ichthys or ichthus (/ˈɪkθəs/), from the Greek ikhthū́s (ἰχθύς, 1st cent. AD Koine Greek pronunciation: [ixˈθys], “fish“) is (in its modern rendition) a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish. It has been speculated that the symbol has been adopted by early Christians as a secret symbol; a shibboleth to determine if another was indeed Christian. It is now known colloquially as the “sign of the fish” or the “Jesus fish“.

In the U.S., not too long ago, seeing a fish decal such as this on cars in the more heavily Christian parts of the country was a common sight. As it is less common now, I suspect that at some point it fell out of fashion because Christians decided that one’s driving might not serve as the best testimony to non-Believers. Nevertheless, you do still see them around.

The Jesus Fish was so popular that it spawned counter-messaging fish. A “Darwin fish” became a common car decal in its own right.

The car decal… competition (?)… eventually spawned other versions – the Jesus Fish swallowing the Darwin Fish and vice versa being among the more popular.

I suspect that the public car decal battle, two thousand years after the Jesus fish was first adopted, would have been incomprehensible to the early Church who had adopted the ichthys as a coded message to one another while attempting to avoid persecution.

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