The Inspiration for THETA THREADS
During the last 30+ years James De Young has been teaching Greek and New Testament in a graduate school in Portland, Oregon. One of his electives is a course in the reading of the Apostolic Fathers who wrote in Greek to the Christians of their day. These are the earliest writings after the Apostles. He and his students noted that Polycarp, martyred in AD 156, called himself “God’s runner” or “courier” (theodromos in Greek). He said then that they ought to form a Christian running club and put “God’s Runner” in Greek on their shirts.
Their idea has finally seen reality. Dr. De Young has designed a line of nine T-shirts each featuring a Greek compound word on them—words that all begin with the Greek word for “God,” spelled theo. The first letter of each is theta. These nine words were coined by these early Christians and occur only once or twice. Two of the words occur in the NT (in John and Paul) and the other seven were coined by Ignatius (died in AD 108) and by Polycarp (died in AD 156). All of these early Christians were martyred.
The nine Greek words are:
- θεοφιλες (Theophiles, “Loved by God”)
- θεοδρομος (Theodromos, “God’s Runner”)
- θεοδιδακτος (Theodidaktos, “Taught by God”)
- θεοφορος (Theophoros, “God Bearer”)
- θεοσεβες (Theosebes, “God Fearing”)
- θεομακαριστος (Theomakaristos, “Blessed by God”)
- θεοπρεσβευτες (Theopresbeutes, “Ambassador of God”)
- θεοπνευστος (Theopneustos, “Inspired by God”)
- θεοπρεπες (Theoprepes, “Fit for God”).
Thus far five of the nine shirts have been produced: “Loved by God” (cardinal red with white lettering); “Taught by God” (heather indigo with dark blue lettering); “God Bearer” (dark chocolate with white lettering); “God Fearing” (serene green with black lettering); and “God’s Runner” (Irish green with black lettering). The final four words will appear in four more colors (probably) Texas orange, sport grey, cedar, and Carolina blue or eggplant).
So far four hats (caps) have also been produced, in cardinal red (“Loved by God”), black (“God’s Runner”), dark green (“God-Fearing”), and khaki (“Taught by God”). On the front of each shirt and hat occurs the Greek word and underneath this Greek word is written the person who used the word and when he died (for example, on the red shirt it reads: “Polycarp, martryed AD 156”). Then on the left shoulder occurs the translation or meaning of the word and how it is pronounced in Eng.: thus “Loved by God” and underneath this phrase occurs “Theophiles.” The hats have the translation and English pronunciation on the back. All the writing on the hats is beautiful embroidery. The color pictures of Theta Threads show just what the “threads” look like. A short biography of each martyr accompanies the purchase of each shirt and hat. In this way each wearer will know the history behind the word. The web site, “ThetaThreads.com,” describes the apparel and how to obtain it. Theta Threads has great potential for Christian witness. It proclaims the faith of early Christians and their dedication through death. Today their witness lives on. It serves to encourage us to follow their example of faithfulness to the reality of God in daily living. These nine titles appeal to all age groups.