It is said that the early Christians used the symbol of the fish because in Greek the word for fish (ichthus) is an acronym of'Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour';32 so here was a handy secret sign of the full significance of Jesus. The aura accorded to Jesus through devotion and doctrine parallels the blend ofhistory and fantasy that made up the legend of Helena. In Helena's time the fiercest battles over the nature of God's Son and the manner of his incarnation in Jesus still lay in the future, though the turmoil of the Arian controversy33 was their
31 Historical scepticism prior to this was largely identified with the opponents of Christianity such as Celsus and Porphyry; Origen's critique of gospel stories (n. 16, above) served his spiritualising agenda, and its motivations were quite different from those of the modern quest for the historical Jesus, for which see further below.
32 Snyder, Antepacem finds little evidence to confirm this.
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