Friday, December 7, 2012
The Gospel Animals of Mark the Lion, Matthew the Man, John the Eagle, and Luke the Ox
As for the likeness of their faces, all four had the face of a Man, and the face of a Lion on the right side, and all four had the face of an Ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an Eagle.
- Ezekiel 1:10
The first Living Creature was like a Lion, the second was like an Ox, the third had a face like a Man, the fourth was like a flying Eagle.
- Revelation 4:7
For several mysterious reasons, the early Church Fathers deliberately identified all four authors of the Gospels with the four Heavenly Cherubim originally described by the Prophet Ezekiel who each had four different faces resembling a Man, Lion, Eagle, and Ox. These same quadruple-faced entities were also spotted by the Apostle John during his prophetic visions as recorded in the Book of Revelation. Traditionally, these odd-looking, mysterious four-faced humanoids are referred to by most English-language Bibles as the 'Four Living Creatures'. Since around the 3rd century AD, the Christian Church has matched the Lion with Mark, the Man with Matthew, the Eagle with John, and the Ox with Luke. This can be seen as follows:
Independently of their reference to the four evangelists these figures (living creatures) sometimes refer to the Incarnation, the Passion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension.
- Emblems of the Four Evangelists, Fictitious and Symbolic Creatures in Art (1909), by John Vinycomb (Sacred-texts.com)
I. St. Mark's Symbol of the Winged Lion represents the Resurrection of Christ..
II. St. Matthew's Symbol of the Winged Man represents the Incarnation of Christ.
III. St. John's Symbol of the Eagle represents the Ascension of Christ.
IV. St. Luke's Symbol of the Winged Ox represents the Passion of Christ.