Genesis places Cherubim to guard the lost Eden, and the O.T. frequently refers to them as guardians of the divine glory. Two winged representations in gold were placed over the Ark of the Covenant; colossal figures of the same were also placed in the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple of Solomon. Cherub, suggests that the derivation of the word is from K, a particle of similitude, and RB or RUB, greatness, (master, majesty, and so an image of godhead.
But many other nations have displayed similar figures as symbols of deity for instance the Egyptians in their figures of Serapis. as Macrohius describes in his Saturnalia; the Greeks had their triple-headed Hecate she also is associated and depicted with all three animals, and the Latins had three-faced images of Diana, as Ovid tells us, ecce procul ternis Hecate variata figuris. Virgil also describes her in the fourth Book of the Eneid.
Porphyry and Eusebius write the same of Proserpine. The Vandals had a many-headed deity they called Triglaf. The ancient German races had an idol Rodigast with human body and heads of the ox, eagle, and man. The Persians have some figures of Mithras with a man’s body, lion’s head, and four wings. Add to these the Chimera Sphinx of Egypt, Moloch, Astarte of the Syrians, and some figures of Isis with Bull’s horns and feathers of a bird on the head. The ox
represents strength, the lion
is majesty, the eagle
is mobility, all can be associated Jesus as well through the Four Evangelist of Jesus.
- [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_the_Evangelist"]Matthew the Evangelist[/url], the author of the [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_according_to_Matthew"]first gospel[/url] account is symbolized by a winged man, or angel. Matthew's gospel starts with Jesus' genealogy from [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham"]Abraham[/url]; it represents Jesus' [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarnation"]Incarnation[/url], and so Christ's [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human"]human[/url] nature. This signifies that Christians should use their reason for salvation.
- [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_the_Evangelist"]Mark the Evangelist[/url], the author of the [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_according_to_Mark"]second gospel[/url] account is symbolized by a winged [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion"]lion[/url] – a figure of courage and monarchy. Mark has [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Baptist"]John the Baptist[/url] preaching "like a lion roaring" at the beginning of his Gospel. It also represents Jesus' [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection"]Resurrection[/url] (because lions were believed to sleep with open eyes, a comparison with Christ in the tomb), and Christ as [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch"]king[/url]. This signifies that Christians should be courageous on the path of salvation.
- [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_the_Evangelist"]Luke the Evangelist[/url], the author of the [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_according_to_Luke"]third gospel[/url] account (and the [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acts_of_the_Apostles"]Acts of the Apostles[/url]) is symbolized by a winged [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle"]ox[/url] or bull – a figure of sacrifice, service and strength. Luke's account begins with the duties of [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zechariah_%28priest%29"]Zacharias[/url] in the temple; it represents Jesus' [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrifice"]sacrifice[/url] in His Passion and Crucifixion, as well as Christ being High [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priest"]priest[/url] (this also represents [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary,_mother_of_Jesus"]Mary's[/url] obedience). The ox signifies that Christians should be prepared to sacrifice themselves in following Christ.
- [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Evangelist"]John the Evangelist[/url], the author of the [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_according_to_John"]fourth gospel[/url] account is symbolized by an [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle"]eagle[/url] – a figure of the sky, and believed to be able to look straight into the sun. John starts with an eternal overview of [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_the_Logos"]Jesus the Logos[/url] and goes on to describe many things with a "higher" level than the [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synoptic_Gospels"]other three (synoptic) gospels[/url]; it represents Jesus' [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascension_of_Jesus_Christ"]Ascension[/url], and Christ's [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God"]divine nature[/url]. This represents that Christians should look on eternity without flinching as they journey towards their goal of union with God.
Each of the symbols is depicted with wings following the biblical sources first in [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Ezekiel"]Ezekiel[/url] 1-2, and in [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Revelation"]Revelation[/url]. The symbols are shown with, or in place of, the Evangelists in early medieval [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_Book"]Gospel Books[/url], and are the usual accompaniment to [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_in_Majesty"]Christ in Majesty[/url] when portrayed during the same period, reflecting the vision in Revelations. They were presented as one of the most common motifs found on church [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal_%28architecture%29"]portals[/url] and [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apse"]apses[/url], as well as many other locations. When surrounding Christ, the figure of the man is usually 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, began to be used.Sometimes in Evangelist portraits they appear to dictate to the writing evangelist. All four evangelists are all Jesus's disciples.