medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Dear Marjorie,

If by "how" you mean when, the association is made as early as Irenaeus of
Lyons in his _Against Heresies_ (c. 180) -- although interestingly, he
reverses the attribution of Mark and John, according to what later became
accepted as the standard order.  (I can get you the exact reference if you

If by "how" you mean why, I don't know for sure, but this is my thesis: the
four angelic beasts suggest the number of the four evangelists.  But, if I
remember correctly, the account in Ezechiel also has an angelic figure(s?)
with four faces, man, lion, ox, eagle.  I think that they two images (the
four beasts and the four-in-one angelic figures) would have been an
attractive way to Christians in late antiquity as demonstrating in an
emblematic way that the evangelists each speak with their unique voice, yet
what they speak (ie, the gospel) is one.

That is just my conjecture, however.

Hope this helps,


At 07:48 PM 4/24/01 -0700, Marjorie Greene wrote:
>medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>Dear List,
>I know of the OT vision of someone (Ezechiel?) of a
>chariot with strange wheels of flame and of the beasts
>mentioned in the Apocalypse. What I've never been able
>to learn is how they came to be identified with and
>assigned to the evangelists. Any tips would be

Donald Jacob Uitvlugt
PhD candidate in Theology
University of Notre Dame

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