Four Evangelists

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Jacob Jordaens, The Four Evangelists, 1625-1630. Four Evangelists Jordaens Louvre Inv1404.jpg
Jacob Jordaens, The Four Evangelists , 1625–1630.

In Christian tradition, the Four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors attributed with the creation of the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles: the Gospel of Matthew; the Gospel of Mark; the Gospel of Luke; and the Gospel of John.

Contents

Gospels

The four winged creatures that symbolise the Four Evangelists surround Christ in Majesty on the Romanesque tympanum of the Church of St. Trophime in Arles. France Arles St Trophime Portal Detail.jpg
The four winged creatures that symbolise the Four Evangelists surround Christ in Majesty on the Romanesque tympanum of the Church of St. Trophime in Arles.
The lion symbol of St. Mark from the Echternach Gospels, here without wings. Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris. Meister des Evangeliars von Echternach 001.jpg
The lion symbol of St. Mark from the Echternach Gospels, here without wings. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels, because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence. While the periods to which the gospels are usually dated suggest otherwise, [1] [2] convention traditionally holds that the authors were two of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, John and Matthew, as well as two "apostolic men," [3] Mark and Luke, whom Orthodox Tradition records as members of the 70 Apostles (Luke 10):

They are called evangelists, a word meaning "people who proclaim good news," because their books aim to tell the "good news" ("gospel") of Jesus. [4]

Symbols

In iconography, the evangelists often appear in Evangelist portraits derived from classical tradition, and are also frequently represented by the symbols which originate from the four "living creatures" that draw the throne-chariot of God, the Merkabah, in the vision in the Book of Ezekiel (Chapter 1) reflected in the Book of Revelation (4:6–9ff), referred to as the four 'Seraphims', though neither source links the creatures to the Evangelists (of course the depiction of the Seraphims predates in chronology the writing of the new testaments books which portrays the writers John, Luke, Mark, Matthew as symbolically emodied by the four Seraphims ). Images normally, but not invariably, appear with wings like angels. [5] [6] When the symbols of the Four Evangelists appear together, it is called a Tetramorph, and is common in the Romanesque art of Europe, in church frescoes or mural paintings, for instance.

The meanings accruing to the symbols grew over centuries, with an early formulation by Jerome, [5] and were fully expressed by Rabanus Maurus, who set out three layers of meaning for the beasts, as representing firstly the Evangelists, secondly the nature of Christ, and thirdly the virtues required of a Christian for salvation: [6] These animals may have originally been seen as representing the highest forms of the various types of animals, i.e., man, the king of creation as the image of the creator; the lion as the king of beasts of prey (meat-eating); the ox as the king of domesticated animals (grass-eating) and the eagle as the king of the birds.

The symbols of the four Evangelists are here depicted in the Book of Kells. The four winged creatures symbolize, top to bottom, left to right, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. KellsFol027v4Evang.jpg
The symbols of the four Evangelists are here depicted in the Book of Kells. The four winged creatures symbolize, top to bottom, left to right, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Each of the symbols is depicted with wings, following the biblical sources first in Ezekiel 12, and in Revelation. The symbols are shown with, or in place of, the Evangelists in early medieval Gospel Books, and are the usual accompaniment to Christ in Majesty when portrayed during the same period, reflecting the vision in Revelation. They were presented as one of the most common motifs found on church portals and apses, as well as many other locations. [7]

When surrounding Christ, the figure of the man usually appears at top left – above Christ's right hand, with the lion above Christ's left arm. Underneath the man is the ox and underneath the lion is the eagle. This both reflects the medieval idea of the order of "nobility" of nature of the beasts (man, lion, ox, eagle) and the text of Ezekiel 1:10. From the thirteenth century their use began to decline, as a new conception of Christ in Majesty, showing the wounds of the Passion, came into use. [7] Sometimes in Evangelist portraits they appear to dictate to the writing evangelist.

Naming

Matthew is often cited as the "first Gospel account," not only owing to its place in the canon, but also in view of the patristic witness to this effect. Most biblical scholars however, see the gospel account of Mark as having been written first (see Markan priority) and John's gospel account as having been written last.

It has become customary to speak of "the Gospel of Matthew" ... "the Gospel of John", not least because it is shorter and rolls much more smoothly off the tongue; but it is worth noting that the ancient titles do not use the genitive of possession, but the preposition "according to", signifying that each evangelist sets forth the one "Gospel of God" according to his own capacity, but not in the sense of creating his own story.

Depictions

Miniatures from the Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany, Queen consort of France (1477–1514)
The Four Evangelists, 10th century

See also

Related Research Articles

Gospel of Luke Book of the New Testament

The Gospel according to Luke, also called the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Together with the Acts of the Apostles, it makes up a two-volume work which scholars call Luke–Acts, accounting for 27.5% of the New Testament. The combined work divides the history of first-century Christianity into three stages, with the gospel making up the first two of these – the life of Jesus the Messiah from his birth to the beginning of his mission in the meeting with John the Baptist, followed by his ministry with events such as the Sermon on the Plain and its Beatitudes, and his Passion, death, and resurrection.

John the Evangelist Name traditionally given to the author of the Gospel of John

John the Evangelist is the name traditionally given to the author of the Gospel of John. Christians have traditionally identified him with John the Apostle, John of Patmos, or John the Presbyter, although this has been disputed by most modern scholars.

Luke the Evangelist One of the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical gospels

Luke the Evangelist is one of the Four Evangelists—the four traditionally ascribed authors of the canonical gospels. The Early Church Fathers ascribed to him authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, which would mean Luke contributed over a quarter of the text of the New Testament, more than any other author. Prominent figures in early Christianity such as Jerome and Eusebius later reaffirmed his authorship, although a lack of conclusive evidence as to the identity of the author of the works has led to discussion in scholarly circles, both secular and religious.

Matthew the Apostle Christian evangelist and apostle

Matthew the Apostle, also known as Saint Matthew and possibly as Levi, was, according to the New Testament, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. According to Christian traditions, he was also one of the four Evangelists as author of the Gospel of Matthew, and thus is also known as Matthew the Evangelist, a claim rejected by many modern biblical scholars, though the "traditional authorship still has its defenders."

John the Apostle Apostle of Jesus

John the Apostle or Saint John the Beloved was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. Generally listed as the youngest apostle, he was the son of Zebedee and Salome. His brother was James, who was another of the Twelve Apostles. The Church Fathers identify him as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, John the Elder, and the Beloved Disciple, and testify that he outlived the remaining apostles and was the only one to die of natural causes, although modern scholars are divided on the veracity of these claims.

Mark the Evangelist Author of the Gospel of Mark and Christian saint; traditionally identified with John Mark

Mark the Evangelist is the traditionally ascribed author of the Gospel of Mark. Mark is said to have founded the Church of Alexandria, one of the most important episcopal sees of early Christianity. His feast day is celebrated on April 25, and his symbol is the winged lion.

Philip the Apostle Christian saint and apostle

Philip the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament. Later Christian traditions describe Philip as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia.

Transfiguration of Jesus Episode in the life of Jesus

In the New Testament, the Transfiguration of Jesus is an event where Jesus is transfigured and becomes radiant in glory upon a mountain. The Synoptic Gospels describe it, and the Second Epistle of Peter also refers to it. It has also been hypothesized that the first chapter of the Gospel of John alludes to it.

Tetramorph

A tetramorph is a symbolic arrangement of four differing elements, or the combination of four disparate elements in one unit. The term is derived from the Greek tetra, meaning four, and morph, shape.

Living creatures (Bible) Class of heavenly beings described in the prophet Ezekiels vision

The living creatures, living beings, or hayyot are a class of heavenly beings in Jewish mythology. They are described in the prophet Ezekiel's vision of the heavenly chariot in the first and tenth chapters of the Book of Ezekiel. References to the sacred creatures recur in texts of Second Temple Judaism, in rabbinical merkabah ("chariot") literature, in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, and in the Zohar.

Matthew 3:11

Matthew 3:11 is the eleventh verse of the third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The verse occurs in the section relating the preachings of John the Baptist. In this verse he predicts that he will be followed by someone much greater than himself. The main theme of this verse is that John will soon be supplanted by a much greater figure and that John's water baptism is just a preparation for the much greater baptism by fire and spirit that will occur under the second coming of the Christian messiah Jesus, an original Christian concept that, according to Jewish scholars, lacks any fundament in the Hebrew scripture.

Evangelist portrait

Evangelist portraits are a specific type of miniature included in ancient and mediaeval illuminated manuscript Gospel Books, and later in Bibles and other books, as well as other media. Each Gospel of the Four Evangelists, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, may be prefaced by a portrait of the Evangelist, usually occupying a full page. Their symbols may be shown with them, or separately. Often they are the only figurative illumination in the manuscript. They are a common feature in larger Gospel Books from the earliest examples in the 6th century until the decline of that format for illustrated books in the High Middle Ages, by which time their conventions were being used for portraits of other authors.

Rejection of Jesus Historical rejection of Jesus

There are a number of episodes in the New Testament in which Jesus was rejected. Jesus is rejected in Judaism as a failed Jewish messiah claimant and a false prophet by most Jewish denominations.

James, son of Alphaeus One of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ

James, son of Alphaeus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, appearing under this name in all three of the Synoptic Gospels' lists of the apostles. He is often identified with James the Less and commonly known by that name in church tradition. He is also labelled "the minor", "the little", "the lesser", or "the younger", according to translation. He is distinct from James, son of Zebedee and in some interpretations also from James, brother of Jesus. He appears only four times in the New Testament, each time in a list of the twelve apostles.

Gospels of Máel Brigte

The Gospels of Máel Brigte is an illuminated Gospel Book, with glosses.

Apostles in the New Testament Primary disciples of Jesus

In Christian theology and ecclesiology, apostles, particularly the Twelve Apostles, were the primary disciples of Jesus according to the New Testament. During the life and ministry of Jesus in the 1st century AD, the apostles were his closest followers and became the primary teachers of the gospel message of Jesus. There is also an Eastern Christian tradition derived from the Gospel of Luke of there having been as many as seventy apostles during the time of Jesus' ministry.

<i>Apse of Sant Climent, Taüll</i>

The Apse of Sant Climent de Taüll is a Romanesque fresco in the National Art Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona. This is one of the masterpieces of the European Romanesque. from which the unknown Master of Taüll takes his name. Painted in the early 12th century, it was in the church of Sant Climent de Taüll at the Vall de Boí, Alta Ribagorça in the Catalan Pyrenees until removed in 1919-1923, along with other parts of the fresco decoration, in an attempt to preserve the paintings by placing them in a stable, secure museum setting.

Iconostasis of the Cathedral of Hajdúdorog

The iconostasis of the Cathedral of Hajdúdorog is the largest Greek Catholic icon screen in Hungary. It is 11 m tall and 7 m wide, holding 54 icons on five tiers. Creating such a monumental work of art requires a number of different craftsmen. Miklós Jankovits was hired by the Greek Catholic parish of Hajdúdorog in 1799 to carve the wooden framework, including the doors and the icon frames of the iconostasis. Mátyás Hittner and János Szűts could only start the painting and gilding works in 1808. The last icon was completed in 1816.

<i>Christ Enthroned</i> (Tzanes) Painting by Emmanuel Tzanes

Christ Enthroned is a tempera painting by Emmanuel Tzanes. Tzanes was a Greek painter active for most of the 17th century. His brothers Konstantinos Tzanes and Marinos Tzanes were painters. Marinos was also a famous poet. One hundred thirty works are attributed to Emmanuel. He was a member of the Late Cretan School. Tzanes was originally from Rethymno, Crete. He migrated to Corfu around 1646. He stayed there with his brother Konstantinos Tzanes. Both of them completed works on the island. He finally migrated to Venice in the 1650s. He became the priest of San Giorgio dei Greci.

References

  1. Lincoln, Andrew (2005-11-25). Gospel According to St John: Black's New Testament Commentaries. ISBN   9781441188229.
  2. France, R.T (2007-07-11). The Gospel of Matthew. p. 18. ISBN   9780802825018.
  3. Tertullian, Adv. Marc. V.2.
  4. "The good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Mark 1:1
  5. 1 2 Jerome, St; Hieronymus, Sophronius Eusebius; Jerome, Saint (December 2008). "Jerome, Preface to Commentary on Matthew". The Fathers of the Church. Vol. 117. ISBN   9780813201177.
  6. 1 2 Male, Emile (1913). L'Art religieux du XIIIe siècle en France [The Gothic Image: Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century] (3 ed.). London: Collins. pp.  35–7. ISBN   978-0064300322.
  7. 1 2 Male, op. cit.