medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture


        For anyone who might be interested in the (very) early possible
origins of this motif, Prof. Otmar Keel has suggested that imagery in
Revelations, et al. probably derives from the Mesopotamian Lahamu, a
guardian spirit/creature with the body of either a bull or lion, the face
(or faces, up to 4) of a man, and eagle wings.  The protectiuve and
divine qualities of this creature(s) may have been the inspiration for
the Old Testament imagery in Ezekiel, then translated into the New
Testament.  The one composit creature dividing into four may account for
the variations of the textual description in the earlier literature.

        For what it's worth,

> On the iconology of the beasts, I think we may need to notice the differences
> as well as the similarities. In Ezekiel's vision, he sees four living
> creatures, each of whom has four faces, described as below.
> Ezek 1:10  As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a
> man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of
> an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
> In Revelation, there are several variations. The passage is about four
> creatures, not four faces. Also, although this isn't widely recognized, we
> aren't really told what the creatures look like. The first, for example, is
> not a lion, but is only "like a lion," which has a somewhat different meaning
> (lionlike?).
> Rev 4:7  And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a
> calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like
> a flying eagle.
> pat sloane

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