The Board of Trinity College, Dublin

Symbols of the evangelists, man (Matthew), lion (Mark), bull (Luke) and eagle (John), appear on this page from the eighth-century Book of Kells, an illuminated Latin manuscript of the Four Gospels. The evangelists’ symbols derive from two sources: the Old Testament cherubim, particularly Ezekiel’s vision of a single four-sided figure with the faces of a man, a lion, a bull and an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10); and John’s vision of God’s throne enveloped by four separate creatures: a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle (Revelation 4:7). These four creatures later became the conventional symbols for the canonical Gospels.