Alpha is the first letter, and Omega is the final letter of the Greek alphabet. However, they're Christian symbols representing God in the Book of Revelation of the Holy Bible. The allusion is that God and Jesus are the beginning and the end - the eternal.
Early Christianity used the symbols Alpha and Omega on the arms of the Latin cross. You can trace them in many Christian sculptures and paintings, and even some jeweled crosses have these letters hanging from them.
Although these symbols are from Greek, they’re widely used in Western Christian tradition. Eastern Christians tend to use these symbols less often. Let’s explore the Alpha and Omega symbols to learn more about them.
What Does The Alpha Symbol Represent?
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and the one that corresponds to the Latin A. The symbol looks like an inverted ox head. It was derived from the ancient Hebrew and Phoenician letter Aleph, which meant leader or ox.
The Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch explained why the Greek alpha is the first letter in the series. In a conversation with Ammonius, Plutarch referred to an observation by his grandfather Lamprias. He said since the first sound that the child says is A, Alpha comes first.
Plutarch’s natural order of attribution claims that vowels are attributed to various planets. Similarly, Alpha was connected with the moon. Due to its place at the beginning of the alphabet series, it is connected with the universe’s origin.
The Alpha symbol dictates social positions as well. The term “Alpha male” is used to describe a dominant male in a particular group.
What Does the Omega Symbol Mean?
The Omega signifies the end or the final one. It’s the ultimate limit of anything in the world. As the last letter of the Greek alphabet series, it shows the end of significant development. Development can happen in any sphere, from an individual to a country or the universe.
According to the Book of Revelation and the Christian belief, the Omega is part of how Jesus refers to himself: the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
In literature, the Omega is the eternal symbol signifying the stretch of the existence.
Further, the Omega represents the presence of God within the scriptures or logos. Western religious ideas are logocentric, so the relation of God with the alphabet strongly indicates that.
The Alpha and Omega are used as juxtapositions in Christianity. The symbols generally appear near the arms of the cross. Sometimes, they are also spotted near the halo behind Christ’s head. It signifies that the beginning and end are within the same entity.
Alpha And Omega Symbols in Christianity
Alpha and Omega in Christianity are representative of God. As mentioned above, they are signifiers of the beginning and the end. The Book of Revelation in the New Testament relates these Greek Alphabets to God.
The phrase appears in The Book of Revelation as, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” It indicates that God was in the beginning and will be there at the end. However, Alpha and Omega both refer to God and Christ.
In early Christianity, these letters were highly revered and used near holy symbols. At times, they were on the right or left-hand side of the cross. You can especially notice them in the images of Jesus in the Catacombs of Rome.
On the one hand, this symbol represents the omnipresence of God. On the other hand, it is the eternal symbol of God. Furthermore, the Alpha and Omega are used as a symbol to represent the spiritual union between human beings and God. The neo-pagans and Mystical groups believe this.
Along with Chi and Ro, Alpha and Omega are often used. The Chi-Rho symbol is made from the two Greek letters used for Jesus Christ.
The Phrase Alpha Omega And Its Visual Symbol
God as the Beginning and the End
Alpha and Omega sandwich the other Greek alphabets, emerging as the representative of the whole clan. Likewise, we say A to Z to indicate the entire series. Thus, God represents the whole universe, including humans, animals, and others.
God as the First and the Last
The position of Alpha and Omega represent that they are the first and last of the alphabet. Similarly, God is the first and the last of the universe. Moreover, he is also the first and the last God, according to Isaiah 41:4 and Isaiah 44:6.
The Eternity of God
In a phrase, together, Alpha and Omega portray God as the eternal being who will continue to exist.
Does Alpha and Omega Mean Infinity?
//in Christianity, yes – further explain
From Hebrew To Greek – Lost In Translation
The Bible was written in Aramaic or Hebrew originally. So, Aleph and Tav are the letters that should have substituted the Greek Alpha Omega. Even the Hebrew word for truth is Emet: an alternate name used for God.
The word Emet is derived from the initial and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In Hebrew, Emet meant God and truth, symbolizing the initial and the final or the beginning and the end.
When the text was translated into Greek, the letters Alpha and Omega were substituted for the Hebrew Aleph and Tav. However, it lost some of the meaning associated with the Hebrew version because the Greek word for truth, Aletheia, begins with the letter Alpha but does not end with the Omega.
The phrases Alpha and Omega, as well as their visual representation, continue to encourage Christians and serve as an important symbol in Christian circles. As a whole, Alpha and Omega are markers of eternity.
If you’re interested in learning about more symbols, check out this article on the history of the Maltese cross.