Les Enluminures

Morgan MS M.1093, f. 13r

2. Gospel Lessons

Four Evangelists

Derived from a tradition that goes back to the Carolingian era, the Gospel Lessons are prefaced by frontispieces of the Four Evangelists with their respective symbols: John on Patmos with the eagle; Matthew with the kneeling angel; Mark and the lion; and Luke with the ox. The symbols allude to the “four living creatures” that surround God’s throne, as described in Revelations (4: 7). Various traditions of the four heavenly creatures are already found in older biblical texts, especially Ezekiel (1: 1-14 and 10: 1-22).

It became common to combine the Four Evangelists in a single miniature as they appear here. They are shown writing their Gospels. Two write on scrolls, the earlier form of the book, and two on codices, which replaced the scroll by around the third century. Fantastic creatures inhabit a foliate and floral border.