Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Sibyl of Erythrae and the Prophetic Acrostic of Christ


As outlined by numerous Fathers of the Church, Christ was the expectation of all the nations, and as such, many of the writings from disperate cultures throughout the world tell of and indicate the great Redeemer of the whole world Who was to come: Jesus Christ.

One incredible example of this was the Sibyl (from the Greek "sibylla", "prophetess") of Erythrae. ( As mentioned by St. Augustine in his "City of God", by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, and others, a writing of hers not only speaks of the Last Judgment by Christ, but the acrostic, or the first letters of each line in Greek spell out: "JESUS CHRIST SON [of] GOD SAVIOR[,] CROSS". Here are the texts both in Greek and in English; this was written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ:

Fresco from Decani Monastery depicting Christ and the Last Judgment (

Ιδρώσει γαρ χθών, κρίσεως σημείον ότ΄ έσται
Ηξει δ’ ουρανόθεν βασιλεύες αιώσιν, ο μέλλων
Σάρκα παρών πάσαν κρίναι και κόσμον άπαντα.
Όψονται δε θεόν μέροπες πιστοί και άπιστοι
Ύψιστον μετά των αγίων επί τέρμα χρόνοιο,
Σαρκοφόρον ψυχάς τα’ ανδρών επί βήματι κρινεί.

Χέρσος ότ’ αν πότε κόσμος όλος και άκανθα γένηται
Ρίψωσοι τα’ είδωλα βροτοί και πλούτον άπαντα,
Εκκαύση δε το πυρ γην, ουρανόν ηδέ θάλασσαν,*
Ιχνεύων, ρήξη τε πύλας ειρκτής αΐδαο.
Σάρξ τότε πάσα νεκρών, ες ελευθέριον φάος ήξει
Τους αγίους ανόμους τε το πυρ αιώσιν ελέγξει
Οππόσα τις πράξας έλαθεν, τότε πάντα λαλήσει.
Στήθεα γαρ ζοφόεντα Θεός φωστήρσιν ανοίξει.

Θρήνος τ’ εκ πάντων έσται και βρυγμός οδόντων
Εκλείψει σέλας ηελίου, άστρων τε χορείσει,
Ουρανόν ειλίξει, μήνης δε τε φέγγος ολείται,
Υψώσει δε φάραγγας, ολεί δ΄ υψώματα βουνών.

Ύψος δ’ ουκέτι λυγρόν εν ανθρώποισι φανείται
Ίσα τα’ όρη πεδίοις έσται και πάσα θάλασσα
Ουκ εις πλουν έξει γη γαρ φρυχθείσα κεραυνώ
Συν πηγαίς ποταμοί τε καχλάζοντες λείψουσιν.

Σάλπιξ δ’ ουρανόθεν φωνήν πολύθρηνον αφήσει,
Ωρύουσα μύσος μελεόν και πήματα κόσμου.
Ταρταρόεν δε χάος τότε δείξει γαία χανούσα.
Ηξουσι δ’ επί βήμα Θεού βασιλήες άπαντες.
Ρεύσει δ’ ουρανόθεν ποταμός πυρός ηδέ γε θείου.

Σήμα δε τοι τότε πάσι βροτοίς αριδείκετον, οίον
Το ξύλον εν πιστοίς το κέρας το ποθούμενον έσται
Ανδρών ευσεβίων ζωή, πρόσκομμα δε κόσμου
Ύδασι φωτίζον πιστούς εν δώδεκα πληγαίς.
Ράβδος ποιμαίνουσα σιδηρείη γε κρατήσει.
Ούτος ο νυν προγραφείς εν ακροστιχίοις Θεός ημών,
Σωτήρ, αθάνατος βασιλεύς, ο παθών ενέχ΄ ημών.

Detail from above fresco depicting the Preparation of the Throne of the Righteous Judge, with the Precious Cross (

I Judgment shall moisten the earth with the sweat of its standard,
H Ever enduring, behold the King shall come through the ages,
S Sent to be here in the flesh, and Judge at the last of the world.
O O God, the believing and faithless alike shall behold Thee
[Y] Uplifted with saints, when at last the ages are ended.
S Seated before Him are souls in the flesh for His judgment.

[X] Hid in thick vapors, the while desolate lieth the earth.
P Rejected by men are the idols and long hidden treasures;
E Earth is consumed by the fire, and it searcheth the ocean and heaven;*
I Issuing forth, it destroyeth the terrible portals of hell.
S Saints in their body and soul freedom and light shall inherit:
T Those who are guilty shall burn in fire and brimstone for ever.
O Occult actions revealing, each one shall publish his secrets;
S Secrets of every man's heart God shall reveal in the light.

[Theta] Then shall be weeping and wailing, yea, and gnashing of teeth;
E Eclipsed is the sun, and silenced the stars in their chorus.
O Over and gone is the splendor of moonlight, melted the heaven,
[Y] Uplifted by Him are the valleys, and east down the mountains.

[Y] Utterly gone among men are distinctions of lofty and lowly.
I Into the plains rush the hills, the skies and oceans are mingled.
O Oh, what an end of all things! earth broken in pieces shall perish;
S Swelling together at once shall the waters and flames flow in rivers.

S Sounding the archangel's trumpet shall peal down from heaven,
[Omega] Over the wicked who groan in their guilt and their manifold sorrows.
T Trembling, the earth shall be opened, revealing chaos and hell.
H Every king before God shall stand in that day to be judged.
P Rivers of fire and brimstone shall fall from the heavens.

S A sign will be seen by all flesh
T The tree which is the boast and desire of those among the faithful
A Life to pious men, but a stumbling block to the world
Y Water illuminating the faithful in twelve wounds.
P A rod to rule and govern strongly.
O This was written before-hand by acrostic our God
S Savior, immortal king, who suffered on behalf of us.
(amateur translation of the above Greek, as it was missing from the translation given above)
*Note that this ancient Greek spelling of "Christ" is slightly different from the modern, in that there is a dipthong for the first vowel.

For a more in depth discussion of Christ as the expectation of all the nations, see Christology by St. Nektarios of Aegina, and:

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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