Thanks to the book reviewer program at The Catholic Company, I had the pleasure of reading Mike Aquilina's Signs and Mysteries. It was one of those books that I had a hard time putting down. I'd put the book down telling myself that I was going to take a break and then almost instantly pick it back up to read just one more chapter, which inevitably lead to the next. I found the premise of the book to be rather captivating and with bite sized chapters for most of the symbols, it was quite easy for me to devour this book.
In all, twenty-five ancient Christian symbols are decoded. In each chapter you'll learn the significance of a particular symbol and it's origin. In most cases, the symbols are borrowed/commandeered from other traditions (usually Jewish, Greek, Roman or Coptic/Egyptian). Prior to reading this book I was aware of many of the symbols, but I wasn't necessarily aware of the origins or the meanings behind them.
The book itself is written in a very engaging manner. It's not a boring account of history by any means. (I know some people who think history can be boring, I don't think I've ever encountered boring history, but I can assure you that this book would not fall in the category of boring history book.) Laugh if you want, but I wasn't expecting the book to be as heavily laden with illustrations as it was. I had a light bulb moment where I realized that obviously this book had to have illustrations to introduce the reader to the symbols. I'm so used to reading non-illustrated accounts of history that it just threw me off course for a few minutes.
My only criticism of the book would have to be the illustrations. While Lea Marie Ravotti did a beautiful job on the illustrations, I can't help but feel that the book would have been even better if it contained actual pictures of some of the archaeological finds of ancient Christian symbols. I watch a lot of documentaries that touch on this subject, and I feel that readers who may not have ever seen color pictures of these finds are missing out.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good history of early Christian symbols. For more information on this great book, head over to The Catholic Company.
As a reviewer for The Catholic Company Book Reviewer Program, I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review of Signs and Mysteries.