Feb 10, 2010

Book of Kells Part Two

Book of Kells facsimile
photo via creative commons by Marius Jennings
Continuing my look at the Book of Kells, an 8th century illuminated manscript.
This illustration is called the Temptation of Christ. There is a lot of subtle symbolism in this piece. The house is Christ church. He is the cornerstone that holds it up (the blond figure in the center.) It is built on the apostles (the heads underneath.) The devil (the black forked handed creature near the top at the right) is outside of the church building. He is capable of tempting, but has still been expelled. There is much more to be explored than this, though. What else do you see?

The Book of Kells explores the four Gospels (New Testament) and the writers are depicted as beasts. These creatures are mentioned in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. From Ezekiel 1:4-10

photo via creative commons by Larry Koester

4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved.
10 Their faces looked like this: Each of the four had the face of a man, and on the right side each had the face of a lion, and on the left the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle.

I love the fact that the Irish monks told stories in these illustrations. I'll look at more in my next post.


  1. Hello Cindy!

    I found your blog through the Irish Culture & Customs website that I have linked to my blog. I was reading about your book, Celtic Wisdom; it sounds very interesting. I'm glad to have found a kindred and plan to add your blog to my reading list.

    God Bless!

  2. Hi Amy! Thanks for stopping by. Gotta love Irish Culture & Customs! Hope to hear more from you! Blessings, Cindy