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Research the four symbols that are traditional for the four evangelists. Explain in written form why you think each symbol reflects the work of the corresponding evangelist.

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  • April 14, 2006
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This essay gives a short history of the symbols associated with, and their relationship to the

Gospels. Images of the Evangelistic symbols over the centuries are included as they have been very important for communicating Christian ideas over the centuries.

The four symbols associated with the gospels are from the Old Testament;

Eze 1:10: As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four had also the face of an eagle. (ASV)

The root of man is H120

אדם

'âdâm

aw-dawm'

From H119; ruddy, that is, a human being (an individual or the species, mankind, etc.): - X another, + hypocrite, + common sort, X low, man (mean, of low degree), person.

The root of lion is H738

אריה ארי

'ărîy 'aryêh

ar-ee', ar-yay'

From H717 (in the sense of violence); a lion: - (young) lion, + pierce [from the margin].

The root of ox is H7794

שׁור

shôr

shore

From H7788; a bullock (as a traveller). wall used by mistake for H7791: - bull (-ock), cow, ox, wall [by mistake for H7791].

The root of eagle is H5404

נשׁר

nesher

neh'-sher

From an unused root meaning to lacerate; the eagle (or other large bird of prey): - eagle. (1)

The four creatures are also associated with Revelations 4:7: "And the first creature was like a

lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face as of a man,

and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle."(YLT)

Through the ages many saints and scholars have associated these symbols in differing

orders.

Early Christian Author Human/Angel Lion ox Eagle

St. Irenaeus of Lyons Mark Matthew Luke John

St. Augustine of Hippo Mark Matthew Luke John

Pseudo-Athanasius Matthew Luke Mark John

St. Jerome Matthew Mark Luke John (2)

They didn't all agree with St. Jerome's association, however, " Gregory's homilies on Ezekiel,...