At the beginning of the 4th century, Christian symbols on oil lamps became a favored feature in many North African societies. During the last days of August, I will display the youngest lamps found in this collection, all from North Africa. This will close out my oil lamp posts. Not all the lamps from this period have Christian symbols, but those that do reflect the transformation of individuals in this part of the Roman world.
Roman civilization adopted the high culture of the Greeks or, at least, admired and tried to preserve much of the literature, art, language, and other aspects. The Greek and Roman world had similar gods which couldn’t give any hope, generate sincere love, or fill their hearts with peace. When the Christian message started to be proclaimed, it started a revolution in society, where the empty paganism was abandoned, which had previously pervaded these people’s lives. The new relationship with the one true God of the Old Testament was made possible when Jesus sent the Other Comforter to live and be with individuals forever. This was God, The Holy Spirit promised beforehand to indwell and teach those who trusted Christ.
Since the members of the Trinity indwell each other (see John 17), Christ could say to His disciples: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt.28:18b-20 WEB). Jesus promised to be with the disciples along with both authorizing and enabling their ministry. The Christians who received this “light of the gospel” thought it fitting to put a Christian symbol on their light-giving lamps.