Earliest Christian inscription identified? Maybe?

There is an old adage which everyone, people who participate on blogs included, ought to kind in mind:  Scripta manent… Things that are written down endure.

In a story posted on Fox News I read about the possible identification of maybe the oldest known Christian inscription.  It is in Greek and was found at the 4 mile mark of the Via Latin near Rome.  Today it is in the collections of the Capitoline Museums.  The dating derives from the shape of the Greek letters, including the sigma and omega, used at Rome in the second half of the 2nd c.

You can read the whole piece there.  Here is a translation of the inscription.

As translated by Prof. Gregory Snyder, the inscription reads:

To my bath, the brothers of the bridal chamber carry the torches,
[here] in our halls, they hunger for the [true] banquets,
even while praising the Father and glorifying the Son.
There [with the Father and the Son] is the only spring and source of truth.

It is possibly from the sect called the Valentinianians.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. pxs155 says:

    Reminded me of this immediately:

    “Thy bridal chamber I see adorned, O my Savior, but I have no wedding garment that I may enter. O Giver of Light, enlighten the vesture of my soul, and save me.”

    It’s from the Eastern Bridegroom services during Holy Week. I certainly hope we’re not Gnostics!

  2. pseudomodo says:


    There is the famous (or infamous) Alexamenos Graffito that may be from the same era.
    Alexamenos Sebete Theon – Alexamenos worships his god


    The Alexamenos graffito (also known as the graffito blasfemo) is an inscription carved in plaster on a wall near the Palatine Hill in Rome, now in the Palatine Antiquarium Museum. It is alleged to be among the earliest known pictorial representations of the Crucifixion of Jesus, together with some engraved gems.

  3. Charlotte Allen says:

    To carry on from pxs155’s comment, why is the text of the epigraph necessarily Gnostic? It seems to carry on from the bridal imagery that saturates the Gospels and also shows up in Paul’s letters (the Church as the bride of Christ) and in Revelation (the wedding feast of the lamb). The imagery seems to have its ultimate source in the Song of Songs. So Valentinus didn’t exactly invent the bridal chamber as a Christian literary motif. Furthermore, in fourth-century hagiography of virgin martyrs, such as Prudentius’ poem to St. Eulalia and Ambrose’s homily on St. Agnes in his De virginibus, the martyrdom of the virgin is analogized to a wedding; Agnes “hurries” to her execution like an eager bride. I’d certainly like to see a photo of the epigraph and to learn something about its context, such as where it was found. Also to read its Greek text. As stonework it must have been commissioned by or for someone fairly wealthy, whether Gnostic or orthodox.

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