Mills Mulls Signs
Thursday October 23rd 2008, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Books,Patristics

My latest book, Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols, is reviewed in this week’s Pittsburgh Catholic by no less a critic than David Mills. As if that’s not cool enough … he actually liked it.

In Signs and Mysteries, Mike Aquilina explains 25 symbols we’ve inherited from our fathers in the early Church, which meant everything — even life and death — to the people who painted them on the walls of their churches, inscribed them on tombs, even scratched them on the walls of public buildings and underground tombs. The symbols they put on lamps and rings and bottles and jugs reminded them of a counter-cultural, life-changing — at times life-endangering — commitment…

The early Christians took their symbols from the Old Testament (like the lamb and the plow), the New Testament (the fish, the anchor, and of course the Cross), or both (the good shepherd, the banquet, and the vine), and even from the pagan culture around them (the ankh, the orant, and the philosopher). They even made up their own (the dolphin, the peacock, and the lighthouse). In every case, they drew wider and deeper meaning from the symbol…

For us modern Christians, these symbols offer “an urgent message . . . from a distant family member.” It’s as if our brothers and sisters, knowing that most of us suffer from spiritual attention deficit disorder, had plastered our homes and churches, and nature itself, with post-it notes reminding us of what Jesus has done and is doing for us. Unfortunately, few of us know enough to read the notes. Signs and Mysteries is an excellent aid in learning to read their messages.

He points out that there’s an interview with the illustrator of Signs and Mysteries, Lea Marie Ravotti, posted here.


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