Origin of the "Christian" Fish Symbol
Most symbols that people use have a story behind them and are used to make a statement. Some of the most famous are the so-called Christian symbols such as the cross and the fish. Whilst they provide a useful mean of identification, all of these are carnal and nowadays used promiscuously by everybody, thus it is best for us to avoid using them. Moreover they all have a precedent story of paganism, a thing we Christian must avoid, even if some says the pagan origins have now been lost in history. The wearing or keeping such symbols has the tendency to bring veneration to them and thus returning to paganism. Besides, what saith the Word of God: God is a spirit, and the ones worshiping Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24)
Here are some tidbits concerning this ancient symbol:
When threatened by Romans in the first centuries after Christ, Christians used the fish mark meeting places and tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes. According to one ancient story, when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good
Greeks, Romans, and many other pagans used the fish symbol before Christians. Hence the fish, unlike, say, the cross, attracted little suspicion, making it a perfect secret symbol for persecuted believers. So the early Christians made practical use of this symbol for practical convenience. It is somewhat similar to the use in our days of bumper-sticker and business-card practice to be recognised by strangers, although we are not yet under persecution.
As early as the first century, Christians made an acrostic from this word: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, (ICTYS) i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour, using the Greek word for fish "ichthys." The Greek word Ichthus (Iota Chi Theta Upsilon Sigma), pronounced ich-thoos, upper case: and lower case: , is the word used throughout the New Testament for the English word fish.
The fish has plenty of other theological overtones as well, for Christ fed the 5,000 with 2 fishes and 5 loaves (a meal recapitulated in Christian love-feasts) and called his disciples "fishers of men." So that was an easy association: "fishers of men" and the acronym for the word fish in Greek, and thus the symbol resembling a fish.
It is reputed, however, that his particular fish symbol has ancient pagan roots.
In pagan beliefs, Ichthys was the offspring of the ancient Sea goddess Atargatis, and was known in various mythic systems as Tirgata, Aphrodite, Pelagia, or Delphine. The word also meant "womb" and "dolphin" in some tongues, and representations of this appeared in the depiction of mermaids. The fish is also a central element in other stories, including the Goddess of Ephesus, as well as the tale of the fish of the Nile that swallowed part of Osiris' body (the penis), and was also considered a symbol of the sexuality of Isis for she had sexual intercourse with Osiris after his death which resulted in the conception and birth of his posthumous son, Harpocrates, Horus-the-child. So, in pagan beliefs, the fish is a symbol of birth and fertility.
In certain non-Christian beliefs the fish also has been identified with reincarnation and the life force. Sir James George Frazer noted in his work, "Adonis, Attis, Osiris: Studies in the History of Oriental Religion" (Part Four of his larger work, "The Golden Bough") that among one group in India, the fish was believed to house a deceased soul, and that as part of a fertility ritual specific fish is eaten in the belief that it will be reincarnated in a newborn child.
Before Christianity adopted the fish symbol, it was known by pagans as "the Great Mother", and "womb". Its link to fertility, birth, and the natural force of women was acknowledged also by the Celts, as well as pagan cultures throughout northern Europe.
The Romans called the goddess of sexual fertility by the name of Venus. And thus it is from the name of the goddess Venus that our modern words "venereal" and "venereal disease" have come. Friday was regarded as her sacred day, because it was believed that the planet Venus ruled the first hour of Friday and thus it was called dies Veneris. And to make the significance complete, the fish was also regarded as being sacred to her. The accompanying illustration, as seen in "Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism", shows the goddess Venus with her symbol, the fish. The similarities between the two, would indicate that Venus and Freya were originally one and the same goddess and that original being the mother-goddess of Babylon.
The same association of the mother goddess with the fish-fertility symbol is evidenced among the symbols of the goddess in other forms also. The fish was regarded as sacred to Ashtoreth, the name under which the Israelites worshipped the pagan goddess. And in ancient Egypt, Isis is represented with a fish on her head, as seen in the accompanying illustration.
A Philistine deity. It is commonly admitted that the name Dagon is a diminutive form, hence a term of endearment, derived from the Semitic root dag, and means, accordingly, "little fish". The name, therefore, indicates a fish-shaped god. This the Bible also suggests when speaking of the Dagon worshipped in the temple of Azotus (1Sa 5:4) and his trunk. Coins of various Philistine or Phænician cities, on most of which Dagon is represented as a composite figure, human as to the upper part of the body, fish-like as to the lower. From this it may well be inferred that Dagon was a fish-god. e had face and hands and a portion of his body resembled that of a fish, in accordance with the most probable interpretation of "the stump of Dagon" (verse 4). Dagon is sometimes associated with a female half-fish deity, Derceto or Atargatis, often identified with Astarte.
One case in point is the church mitre worn by prelates. Where did this originate? Dr. Thomas Inman discussed this phenomenon in his two volume opus, "Ancient Faiths Embodied in Ancient Names," (1869). He included a representation of a sculpture from Mesopotamia, observing "It is the impression of an ancient gem, and represents a man clothed with a fish, the head being the mitre; priests thus clothed, often bearing in their hand the mystic bag..." "In almost every instance," added Inman, "it will be recognized that the fish's head is represented as of the same form as the modern bishop's mitre." The fish also appears in another sacred iconograph, the Avatars of Vishnu, where the deity "is represented as emerging from the mouth of a fish, and being a fish himself; the legend being that he was to be the Saviour of the world in a deluge which was to follow..."
Typical modern Jewellery:
What are we to do with all these "Christian" symbols that have pagan (satanic) roots? Absolutely nothing. And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:15)
A godly man once said about people wearing a cross hanging from the neck: "we ought to hang on the cross ourselves rather than the cross hanging from our necks".
Another one said: "when in doubt, leave it out".
Whether or not these pagan symbols have lost their original pagan meanings in our modern era (a doubtful situation) it is best not to be involved with them, we do not need them. Moreover, another secure test is to see what the world does with them: if the world loves them, then they are not godly for the world hates anything from God, and our stern warning is this: Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, (1 John 2:15)
Therefore a Christian that worships God in Spirit and in Truth has no need to make a physical point for his belief and should not wear any jewellery AT ALL, or make use of symbols, whether he knows if they are Pagan or not. Besides the second commandment forbids the flaunting of such things.
The faith of a Christian will be known by ALL if he puts into practice the word of his Master, Jesus Christ: 34 I give a new commandment to you, that you should love one another; according as I loved you, you should also love one another. 35 By this all shall know that you are My disciples, if you have love among one another. (John 13:34-35)