Saturday, March 21, 2009

Christian History: "Tattoos of the Cross"

Tattoos of the Cross
Body art has become yet another way for people to express their beliefs and values. Young Christians have joined the trend, emblazoning Bible verses, crosses, or fish symbols on their biceps or ankles. But they are certainly not the first to do so in the history of the church.
During these long periods of maltreatment, the Coptic practice of tattooing arose.
In the fourth century A.D., the Montanists, a Christian sect relying heavily on the Book of Revelation, began tattooing themselves as "slaves of God" (Rev. 7:2-3). The earliest evidence of Coptic tattooing goes back to the eighth-century, when Egyptian monks began to brand their hands with Christian symbols. Some scholars believe they learned the practice from Ethiopian Christians, who branded crosses on their foreheads, temples, and wrists.
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While cross tattoos are no longer widespread among urban Copts, they remain popular among Egyptian Christian villagers as reminders of particular blessings and religious vows. To these Copts of both the past and present, cross tattoos have not been a sign of teenage rebellion or fashion forwardness. Instead, they have been enduring reminders of their Christian faith—showing the Copts' dedication to the One who bore the everlasting scars of mercy, grace, and truth.

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