Four Evangelists

Last updated
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: Gospel according to Matthew; Gospel according to Mark; Gospel according to Luke and Gospel according to 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:

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), though neither source links the creatures to the Evangelists. 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, clockwise from top left, Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke. KellsFol027v4Evang.jpg
The symbols of the four Evangelists are here depicted in the Book of Kells. The four winged creatures symbolize, clockwise from top left, Matthew, Mark, John, and Luke.

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. [8] 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 Mark Book of the New Testament

The Gospel According to Mark is one of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and burial and the discovery of the empty tomb – there is no genealogy of Jesus or birth narrative, nor, in the original ending at chapter 16, any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. Jesus is also the Son of God, but he keeps his identity secret, concealing it in parables so that even most of the disciples fail to understand. All this is in keeping with prophecy, which foretold the fate of the messiah as suffering servant. The gospel ends, in its original version, with the discovery of the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and an unheeded instruction to spread the good news of the resurrection.

Gospel of Luke Book of the New Testament

The Gospel According to Luke, also called the Gospel of Luke, or simply Luke, is the third of the four canonical Gospels. It tells of the origins, birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

Gospel Books which describe the life and teachings of Jesus

Gospel originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out, specifically books which describe the life and teachings of Jesus. The four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John comprise the first four books of the New Testament of the Bible and were probably written between AD 66 and 110. All four were anonymous, almost certainly none were by eyewitnesses, and all are the end-products of long oral and written transmission, They are ancient biography, which often included propaganda and kerygma (preaching); yet while there is no guarantee that the events which they describe are historically accurate, in the quest for the historical Jesus scholars believe that it is possible to differentiate Jesus' own views from those of his later followers. Many non-canonical gospels were also written, all later than the four, and like them advocating the particular theological views of their authors.

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 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.

John the Apostle apostle of Jesus; son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of James; traditionally identified with John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, and the Beloved Disciple

John the Apostle 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 or Joanna. 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 that he was the only one to die of natural causes. The traditions of most Christian denominations have held that John the Apostle is the author of several books of the New Testament, although this has been disputed by some scholars.

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.

Nativity of Jesus Birth of Jesus

The nativity of Jesus, nativity of Christ, birth of Christ or birth of Jesus is described in the Biblical gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, his mother Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph, who was descended from King David and was not his biological father, and that his birth was caused by divine intervention.

Tetramorph Union of the symbols of the Four Evangelists

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 hayyoth are a class of heavenly beings 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 creatures recur in texts of Second Temple Judaism, in rabbinical merkabah ("chariot") literature, and in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.

Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament Designations for Jesus used in the New Testament

Two names and a variety of titles are used to refer to Jesus in the New Testament.

Miracles of Jesus miracles carried out by Jesus according to the Bible

The miracles of Jesus are the supernatural deeds attributed to Jesus in Christian and Islamic texts. The majority are faith healings, exorcisms, resurrection, control over nature and forgiveness of sins.

Great feasts in the Eastern Orthodox Church

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus, called Pascha (Easter), is the greatest of all holy days and as such it is called the "feast of feasts". Immediately below it in importance, there is a group of Twelve Great Feasts. Together with Pascha, these are the most significant dates on the Orthodox liturgical calendar. Eight of the great feasts are in honor of Jesus Christ, while the other four are dedicated to the Virgin Mary — the Theotokos.

Evangelist portrait symbols of the four evangelists

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

This article combines a number of episodes in the New Testament and in Jewish tradition during his lifetime in which Jesus was rejected.

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 Irish Gospel book

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

Burial of Jesus event in the New Testament

The burial of Jesus refers to the burial of the body of Jesus after crucifixion, described in the New Testament. According to the canonical gospel accounts, he was placed in a tomb by a man named Joseph of Arimathea. In art, it is often called the Entombment of Christ.

Crucifixion of Jesus Jesus crucifixion as described in the four canonical gospels

The crucifixion of Jesus occurred in 1st-century Judea, most likely between AD 30 and 33. Jesus' crucifixion is described in the four canonical gospels, referred to in the New Testament epistles, attested to by other ancient sources, and is established as a historical event confirmed by non-Christian sources, although there is no consensus among historians on the exact details.

Apostles The 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 and the Qur’an. 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.

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, Preface to Commentary on Matthew". The Fathers of the Church. 117.
  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. Male, op. cit.
  8. Male, op. cit.