Here is a lamp with the X (chi), p (rho) symbol. The previous lamp had the p (rho) symbol reversed. These letters are an abbreviation of the word Christos (anointed) or Christ. Messiah in the Jewish tongue refers to an “anointed one” and Christos in Greek is the translation. The New Testament was all written in the Greek language. The Old Testament is written in both Hebrew and Aramaic while the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced about 250 B.C.E. is known as the Septuagint and designated LXX (70).
Here is an North African oil lamp without Christian markings from the same period of 4th century. This picture was clear so I included it. It seemed this collection had more lamps with Christian symbols than generic ones, which, to me shows a possible prominence. At least it could be safely said that the prevalence of Christian symbols shows an important reference in this culture.
Here is an North African oil lamp without Christian markings from the same period of 4th century. This picture was clear so I included it. It seemed this collection had more lamps with Christian symbols than generic ones, which, to me shows a possible prominence. At least it could be safely said that the prevalence of Christian symbols in its found artifacts shows an important reference in this culture.
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.
The depiction on the shoulder of grape leaves and fruit clusters cause me to think that the person on the discus of the lamp is possibly holding a cutting. As I understand it, grape vines are propagated from cuttings as trying to reproduce a plant from the seeds is very haphazard. Therefore a select and highly desired vine is first identified and then further produced by slips or cuttings. Though this is a Greek oil lamp, I am reminded of the verse in Psalm 80.8 “You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.” (NIV). It is evident that this technology of vegetative cuttings, or cloning existed for at least 3000 years.
In Jn. 15 Jesus says He is the true vine and the Father is the vinedresser. To be fruitful, a Christian needs to abide in the vine (Jesus). Doing the work of God is intrinsically connected with God’s enabling of the Holy Spirit.
This lamp seems to feature a woman with possibly a musical device. I will keep this image in my mind if I come across any ancient musical instruments in my studies to try identify this depiction.