Jesus H. Christ

Cecil goofs when he says “IHS” was the greek version of Jesus. IHS is the abbreviation of “in hoc signo,” or “under this sign.” Constintine the Great had a dream or a vision where the cross appeared to him with this message, “In hoc signo, vinceres” or “under this sign, you will conquer” advising him that if he adapated the cross (and thus Christianity) as his army’s symbol he would conquer his enemies. He did so, conquered his foes, got total control of the Roman Empire, become Emperor, and expedited the final conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity. He himself waited years and years before converting on his deathbed - I guess he felt that miraculous visions, dramatic triumphs, and becoming absolute ruler of the entire known world were nice, but there was no point in rushing into things.

Well, at least Cecil is not alone. says:

Main Entry: IHS
Pronunciation: "I-"Ach-'es
Etymology: Late Latin, part transliteration of Greek ΙΗΣ, abbreviation for ΙΗΣΟΥΣ IEsous Jesus
– used as a Christian symbol and monogram for Jesus

It’s a pain to read, but it boils down to the same thing Cecil said. I suppose it’s one of those abbreviations that have been interpreted in several ways over time. So the question is not, “Which is right?” but, “Which came first?” Constantine lived 306-337; I don’t know when that monogram first appeared.


Amazing how distorted history becomes aint it? Constantine was declared a saint for the conversion of Rome, yet only did it for his own political gains. reminds me of the continuous propegation of ol’ honest abe and how he “emancipated” all the slaves. When in truth he was a colonizationist who wanted to bundle em all up and ship em back. (activist or racist–hmmm) Funny how no one wants to remember THAT juicy tidbit or the fact that if the South re-joined the union he would have allowed slavery to continue. Kinda makes ya wonder bout that booth fella eh?

I know this has little to do with the topic, but the title reminded me of an episode of “The Simpsons.” In it, a startled Apu exclaims “Krishna H. Vishnu!” I cracked up.


You are right, it had little to do with the topic, however it was right on time!!! Had me cracking up too! :slight_smile:

Not quite–on either point.

Constantine was never canonized a saint–and was never even considered for the role. He is credited with officially declaring that Christianity was an acceptable religion in the empire and it is recognized that he put church authorities into positions of administrative power so that there was never again a persecution against Christians. He was baptized (on his deathbed) as a (heretical) Arian, and the Catholic Church has never held him up as more than a benefactor to the Church. (His mom, St. Helen, got canonized, but no one has ever thought that Constantine’s motives were anything but imperial.)

Your shots at Abe Lincoln are also off the mark. Abe was a complex person who thought deeply about many issues and published or proclaimed many of his thoughts. One can go through Lincoln’s speeches and writings and select only the parts that show him to be a singleminded champion for freedom and one can go through culling passages that show him to be merely a politically conniving racist. Both efforts would be wrong. He did have racist views in many respects, (and during the Civil War he certainly considered the preservation of the Union to be a higher goal than any effort to deal with slavery, itself). However, he clearly was opposed to slavery, and if he considered the black people to be inferior to white people, he clearly believed that that “inferiority” did not justify any deprivation of their rights under the laws of the U.S.

It is one thing to note that Lincoln, a product of a racist time in a racist nation, had racist views. It is quite another thing to wrongly claim that he did nothing to raise his own consciousness above that of the society in which he lived.

(BTW, jwg, IHS is simply the Latin transliteration of the Greek IHS. The use of those sorts of abbreviations became common in the hundred years prior to the rise of Constantine–and there is the niggling fact that while most of our knowledge about later Rome comes through sources written in Latin (In Hoc Signo, etc.), the actual legend has Constantine (a well-educated member of the aristocracy) seeing the words in the heavens written in the language of the educated–Greek: en toutoi nika (which clearly cannot be abbreviated IHS).


Go ahead and believe what you wish Tom c/o tomndeb.

I have done extensive study and research in Ancient and U.S. history. ( Masters toward Doctorate ) Of course one can always read and evaluate historical documents and come to conclusions after attempting to prove a thesis. Ain’t that what a historian’s job is? The opinions I express are solely my own, (concluded from vast research ) so take what you like and leave what you don’t at the door!

Obviously, my comments regarding Lincoln are opinions just as your comments were. It is nice, however, if one is able to support one’s opinions with facts. I certainly hope that the conclusions you have reached regarding Lincoln are based on somewhat better evidence (following your vast research, of course) than the demonstrably false assertions you made regarding Constantine.