The text contains numerous poetical words and expressions as well as some parts in dactylic metre, but is not composed throughout in verse.
The lettering and the type of the stele set the date of the inscription to the first half or even the first quarter of the third century AD. Contrary to the suggestion of the first editor V. Laurent, the stele had not been re-used and this is its original and only inscription.
Tatianus’s inscription is the earliest Christian epigraphic text from the territory of Bulgaria and counts among the earliest Christian inscriptions in Europe. It was still not safe to proclaim oneself a Christian in that period, so Tatianus preferred to declare his religion in cipher, in several letter combinations engraved on the upper and lower frames. The first one is ΩΠΗ, or the number 888 – a symbol of Jesus, because the numerical values of the letters in his name in Greek sum up to 888 (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ = 10 + 8 + 200 + 70 + 400 + 200). This type of encoding a word through the numerical value of its letters, so-called isopsephy, is attested in one more inscription from Philippopolis, a dedication to θεὸς Ὕψιστος (IGBulg 937). The second group of letters, which once stood in the upper right corner, is only partially preserved – it started with the letter Δ and could have represented the epithet Christ or another name of the Christian Lord. The third combination, ΝΖΝ, on the lower frame below the text, is an abbreviation for Ναζαρηνός, “the Nazarene”; a fourth group of letters might have once been engraved on the now missing right part of the lower frame.
In the main text of the inscription, there is also no direct mention of Christ or Christianity. The baptism is represented as “purification in the Lord’s eternal waters”, and the Christian doctrine is alluded to as “knowledge about God”, “Lord’s wine”, and “following the Scriptures”.
Tatianus was one of the numerous migrants from Asia Minor who settled in Roman Philippopolis in the 2nd – 3rd centuries AD and played crucial role for the spread of eastern cults, including Christianity, in the city. The phrase “the Lord rescued me from Egypt” is a reminiscence of the Exodus from Egypt mentioned numerous times in the biblical text (e.g. Ps. 80:11, κύριος ὁ θεός σου ὁ ἀναγαγών σε ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου; Ex. 16:6, κύριος ἐξήγαγεν ὑμᾶς ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου; etc.). It should probably not be interpreted literally as evidence that Tatianus visited Egypt during his wanderings in search of a better life.