Item description for Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols by Mike Aquilina & Lea Marie Ravotti...
Overview Imagine the dangerous life of a First Century Christian. You've embraced your newfound faith in Christ but fear the risk of persecution or death at the hands of the pagans living around you. Then a trusted friend tells you about some of Jesus followers who secretly meet. He whispers into your ear, Look for a fish carved into the entranceway to the burial chambers beside the Via Tiburtina. You smile in gratitude. Comparatively, modern society is awash in those same Christian symbols that kept early Christians safely connected: they appear on churches, bumper stickers, mugs even mints and stuffed animals. Yet, we are often ignorant of the origins of these symbols having lost the urgency of our spiritual ancestors hostile environment. Noted author Mike Aquilina conducts an intriguing tour of symbols that guided the first four centuries of the Church s existence. He explains how Christians borrowed pagan and Jewish symbols, giving them new, distinctly Christian meanings. Recover the voice and urgency of our spiritual ancestors symbolic language and discover the impact the symbols still have. Black and white illustrations by Lea Ravotti of artifacts uncovered throughout the Middle East beautifully complement the text, showing the variety of contexts in which they were found and the range of skills displayed in their execution.
Publishers Description Imagine the dangerous life of a First Century Christian. You've embraced your newfound faith in Christ but fear the risk of persecution or death at the hands of the pagans living around you. Then a trusted friend tells you about some of Jesus' followers who secretly meet. He whispers into your ear, "Look for a fish carved into the entranceway to the burialchambers beside the Via Tiburtina." You smile in gratitude. Comparatively, modern society is awash in those same Christian symbols that kept early Christians safely connected: they appear on churches, bumper stickers, mugs???even mints and stuffed animals. Yet, we are often ignorant of the origins of these symbols??? having lost the urgency of our spiritual ancestors' hostile environment. Noted author Mike Aquilina conducts an intriguing tour of symbols that guided the first four centuries of the Church's existence. He explains how Christians borrowed pagan and Jewish symbols, giving them new, distinctly Christian meanings. Recover the voice and urgency of our spiritual ancestors' symbolic language and discover the impact the symbols still have. Black and white illustrations by Lea Ravotti of artifacts uncovered throughout the Middle East beautifully complement the text, showing the variety of contexts in which they were found and the range of skills displayed in their execution.
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More About Mike Aquilina & Lea Marie Ravotti
Mike Aquilina is author or editor of more than forty books on Catholic history, doctrine, and devotion. He is Vice-president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.
He is co-host, with Scott Hahn, of eight series that air on EWTN. For many years he also appeared as a regular panelist on “The Weekly Roman Observer,” broadcast by Catholic Familyland Network. He is a frequent guest on Catholic radio and appears weekly on EWTN’s “Sonrise Morning Show.”
Mike’s career in publishing spans three decades, and hundreds of his articles have appeared in periodicals and journals in the United States and abroad.
In 2011 he was a featured presenter of the U.S. Bishops’ Diocesan Educational/Catechetical Leadership Institute, an online formation program co-sponsored with the National Catholic Education Association and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He also wrote the USCCB’s theological reflection for Catechetical Sunday in 2011.
Mike Aquilina currently resides in Pittsburgh Pittsburgh.
Mike Aquilina has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols?
pleasant book, redrawn symbols Jan 16, 2010
A pleasant book, again, from Mike Aquilina. And again I feel that the content is presented in a very non-challenging way. Bland to me. Bordering on being patronizing.
The major disappointment is that the symbols are all redrawn. We don't see photographs of the actual mosaics, carvings and paintings, instead we see these sacred works reinterpreted by a present day illustrator.
Even with a good illustrator, these interpretations make dull the fresh and 'primitive' quality of these ancient artworks. I would rather have paid more for the book from a publisher who was willing to pay permissions fees for the photos these illustrations were drawn from. If anyone knows of a book like that in print, please leave me a comment.
Christ Signified Oct 24, 2009
Mike Aquilina beautifully describes the ancient signs of our Catholic Faith while also giving us a tour of history. The great churches of Christendom are filled with ancient signs that modern Christians perceive as coded hieroglyphs. Aquilina unlocks their meaning and in doing so enriches our faith. Highly recommended.
Could I add a few more stars? Sep 2, 2009
You will immediately note that OSV is a Catholic publishing house, and indeed, this book is written by a faithful Catholic - yet, there are no attempts at proselytizing, no justification for Catholic doctrines, but a simple and sincere look, with great depth, at early Christian uses of symbols to tell the story of Christ and His Church.
Easily one of my most anticipated books to read, Signs and Mysteries did not disappoint. I found within this small - almost pocket size - book encouragement, words of life, and a link to the community of Christ from long ago. At once, this book serves as a devotional, a plethora of ministerial ideas, and a short treatise on the history of the early Church. One can find within the pages a remembrance that the early Christian community was often illiterate, unlearned men and women who sought to worship their God in simplicity, adopting symbols for themselves to tell that story long before the canon was formalized. We must remember just how underground the first few centuries of Christianity really were - and this book takes you through a list of symbols and codes which served multiple purposes for the individual Christian and the community as a whole.
While many Protestants may fail to fully appreciate the adoption of symbols, some of them foreign to the Bible, appreciation should be given without remorse, to those early Christians who used these designs as decorations, or perhaps as the author states, `hastily and crudely scratched into plaster' to `to stand forever as a perpetual prayer...' They were more than that (a proclamation, the author writes) and indeed, while reading the book, I gained a better understanding of the primitive development of iconography.
The author is able to draw a picture of the early community, one dependent not upon great swelling words of theology taught by some master and doctor of the Church, but one dependent upon such simplicity as can be gained from the knowledge, and the Gospel story, associated with seeing a dolphin intertwined with an anchor.
The author writes, "These signs sketch the basic grammar that Christians peak to one another across cultures and across millennia.' indeed, once one allows themselves to be placed alongside the first century Christian, who perhaps can only draw the mystery of the Cross, shaped like an anchor, or to speak of Christ in pictures of lamps, then they can begin to appreciate the level of devotion to the gospel, and indeed to holding to Christ above all trials and tribulations, that the early community had.
The author makes a point to use not the words of historians, but the words of the Church Fathers and Mothers themselves in letting the symbols speak. He provides a rich patristic history in such a short book, bringing in various voices to the conversation. Further, the design of the book is a beautiful example of a devotional. The writing may be light for some, but it fits into the over all theme of the book.
I would highly recommend this book for those seeking an introduction into primitive Christian iconography, those who merely want to examine the devotional aspects of those cave sketchings, and one who simply wants a good book to read about the early Church and their love of Christ and His Gospel.
Good. I only wish there was more of it Jul 23, 2009
I recommend this book. With our modern churches almost devoid of artistic decoration, this may be the only place you see these symbols. This book makes for an intersting read. I just wish he comes out with another book on symbolism found later on in Church History.
PRINT TOO LIGHT TO ENJOY READING Mar 7, 2009
I like Mike Aqulina's work and I am sure I would like this one too. I ordered two of these books for gifts but plan to return them. Why? Well, after a certain age one needs readable print. This is such light print, I just gave up. I may never know what this book has to say, unless it comes out in a darker print.