In Mayfield Salisbury Church, Edinburgh, the place where I go and Chinese Evangelical Church in Edinburgh meet, against the wall behind the alter, four glass windows are icons of four gospel canons. I once thought somehow two of them were misplaced, but having read the following post, though very brief, I think I might be wrong about that.
The reason is I always thought the lion symbolizes Matthew’s image of Jesus as king.
所參加的華人教會位於Mayfield Salisbury Church, 象徵祭壇的中心，後方牆上四片彩玻璃是代表四福音正典的圖像。一度以為圖象有誤置，讀了下文，我猜有誤的大概是我自己，誤會來自我以直以為馬太福音是獅子所象徵者，原因是馬太所呈現耶穌是王的形象。但這一切都是印象！
Written by multiple authors! The following is one of them.
The Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament Yale Divinity School
SYMBOLS OF THE GOSPELS
Some of the symbols that Irenaeus uses of the gospels have come to be quite traditional and quite influential in the the symbolism associated with the gospels. So the ox, the lion, the winged man and the eagle that [are] used for the evangelists in many contexts, both artistic and literary, go back to Irenaeus.
The eagle is the usual symbol for the Gospel of John, because his thought is so lofty and it flies so high. And the ox is the symbol of the third gospel, the gospel according to Luke, perhaps because of the way in which Jesus is presented as as someone born in a manger. It’s unclear exactly why but that’s certainly an element. The man with wings is associated with the Gospel of Matthew. And this may go back to traditions about Matthew having some sort of angelic assistance in the composition of his gospel…. Mark is symbolized by the lion, it’s unclear why, but perhaps because the lion is a symbol of Jesus in the book of Revelation. And Mark does have connections with an apocalyptic view of Jesus.
POLITICS BEHIND THE CANON
I think the composition of a four-fold gospel canon reflects complicated developments during the course of the second century. One of the factors that played a role here certainly was the fact that certain gospels were revered in certain ecclesiastical centers, so it may be that Antioch had a special affection for the Gospel of Luke. We don’t know that for a fact, but this is certainly an element in the development of the gospel canon. So as the centers got together and wanted to share fellowship and shared their readings, it would have been important for them to recognize one another’s principle texts. There may also have been some theological issues that were being debated, and the use of certain texts in connection with those debates probably played a role in the recognition of those texts as authoritative. We know that that was the case with the Gospel of John; by the end of the second century there was a faction among the Roman church leadership that rejected the fourth gospel and said, “We ought not have it." They thought that perhaps there was a portrait of Jesus that compromised his humanity. And so the insistence upon the full humanity of Jesus would have been an issue in the acceptance of John as authoritative. So there were both some political and also some theological reasons that no doubt played a role. And then there were various other gospels that were not included within the fourfold canon that probably did not have the sponsorship of a major church, or had some feature to them that was particularly problematic from a theological point of view.