E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Symbols of the four:
Matthew. A man with a pen in his hand, and a scroll before him, looking over his left shoulder at an angel. This Gospel was the first, and the angel represents the Being who dictated it.
Matthew a man, because he begins his gospel with the descent of Jesus from the man David.
Mark. A man seated writing, and by his side a couchant winged lion. Mark begins his gospel with the sojourn of Jesus in the wilderness, amidst wild beasts, and the temptation of Satan, the roaring lion. (See LION.)
Luke. A man with a pen, looking in deep thought over a scroll, and near him a cow or ox chewing the cud. The latter part refers to the eclectic character of St. Lukes Gospel.
John. A young man of great delicacy, with an eagle in the background to denote sublimity.
The more ancient symbols werefor Matthew, a mans face; for Mark, a lion; for Luke, an ox; and for John, a flying eagle; in allusion to the four living creatures before the throne of God, described in the Book of Revelation: The first . was like a lion, and the second . like a calf, and the third . had a face as a man, and the fourth . was like a flying eagle (iv. 7). Irenæus says: The lion signifies the royalty of Christ; the calf His sacerdotal office; the mans face His incarnation; and the eagle the grace of the Holy Ghost.