Sign in or register to download original


The four symbols as visual teaching aids Reasons and explanations

Clearly, the allocation of the symbols resulted from applying Ezekiel to one’s customary order of the gospels – and the explanations followed on later, some of which are rather strained. The reasons given are all derived from the opening verses of each gospel. We saw previously that, in the absence of modern book jackets and publicity blurbs, texts in the ancient world were often known by their opening word(s), and their literary genre could be recognized from the opening paragraph, preface or prologue. Thus, the symbols are applied to the opening verses of each gospel, the first to be encountered by the reader. Most ancient commentators agree that Matthew is represented by the human face, because he begins with the human genealogy of Jesus, Matt. 1.1–17. After his preface, Luke mentions the priestly office of Zechariah (Lk. 1.5f.); since the ox in the Old Testament was a sacrificial animal for priests, the Fathers quickly linked Ezekiel’s third face, the ox, to the opening of the third gospel…

Publisher: SPCK - view more
Log in to create a review