In his telling of Jesus' story, Matthew wrote mainly for the Jewish people. This is a story of Jesus both as God and as a man, born into the family of Abraham and King David, leaders of the Jewish community. He adds to a thick and ancient book, the Hebrew Scriptures (also called the Old Testament by Christians). He tries to show how Jesus is the messiah the Jews had expected for a long time. Matthew's symbol is a winged man.
A product of its time
The words and decoration bring together the rich cultural diversity of northern England in the early 8th Century. Looking back we can see this time as being one of change; the transition from the Roman period to what we now call the Medieval (or 'Middle Ages'). Britain was home to a multi-cultural community. The style of the Lindisfarne Gospels takes the best from the meeting of these different cultures, including Roman, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Byzantine.
Time and tide
Bede, Hilde and others in the early medieval church were concerned with time. Bede was interested in the patterns of the tides. Hilde hosted the Synod of Whitby at which the date for the Easter festival was discussed. The debate came out of two different approaches to measuring time. Put briefly, Celtic Christians based their calendar on the moon, whilst Romans preferred the cycles of the sun. The Whitby decision is still followed by Western Christians today: Easter is the first Sunday on or after the first full moon after the spring (solar) equinox!
Key Words Matthew, Man, Ancestors, Genealogy, Journey, Tide, Calendar, Sun, Moon, Cycle, Pattern, DNA, Growth, Change
Try this link:
www.earthsymbols.com (Alex Campion, maze designer)