The four writers of the Gospels are called the Evangelists.
Each tells his own version of the life of Christ.
The miniature portraits of Matthew, Mark and Luke show
them writing. John looks straight ahead at the reader, holding
his scroll. Mark and John are shown as young men because
they symbolise the divine immortal Christ. Matthew and Luke
are older and bearded, Byzantine-style, because they
represent Christ's mortal nature.
In Anglo-Saxon times people liked and expected symbolism
in art. Their view was: 'why convey one meaning when it was
possible to convey several?' Contemporary commentators such
as Bede tell how the Evangelists were interpreted. Each Gospel
had a different character and was represented by a different
Matthew was the man, representing the human Christ: God,
made man. Mark was the lion, symbolising the triumphant Christ
of the Resurrection, the God of Eternal Life. Luke was the
calf, the sacrificial victim of the Crucifixion. John was
the eagle, who flew directly to the throne of God for inspiration.
He symbolises Christ's Second Coming.