The Gospel of Philip, “The kiss of Jesus to Mary Magdalene”

The Gospel of Philip, “The kiss of Jesus to Mary Magdalene”


The apocryphal Gospel of Philip was written in the middle of the second century. This gospel does exist, but it belongs to a particular current of thought, the Gnostic current, which spread at the time in the Mediterranean basin, especially in Alexandria. This gospel focus on the relationship between Jesus and Magdalene. The Gnostics believed that salvation came from knowledge, not faith, which made them considered heretics by the Fathers of the Church. These “iconoclastic” believers, for whom the soul is good and the body fundamentally bad, revalorized the feminine.

For them, the complementarity between woman and man was of the same nature as that which unites the human being to God.

The Coptic papyrus, discovered in a jar in the Nag Hammadi cemetery, in the Nile Valley, in 1945, is kept at Coptic Library of Nag Hammadi. It has not been preserved in its entirety and poses considerable difficulties of editing and translation. Therefore, the question of the kiss on the mouth is still nowadays not very clear. 


Nag Hammadi: a major discovery to understand ancient Christianity

What does the Gospel of Philip say about the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene?

“The Lord,” he says, “loved Mary more than the disciples and he often kissed her on the mouth …” And Peter said, “Sister, we know that the Lord has loved you differently from other women. ‘he said to you, which you remember and we do not know about … […] Is it possible that the Lord has spoken with a woman about secrets we do not know about? […] he really chosen and preferred to us? “

So, Mary Magdalene was the favorite disciple of Jesus, who “kissed her on the mouth”. If we read this passage in the first degree, we deduce that they were lovers. But, if we read it in the Gnostic perspective, we know that the kiss symbolizes the breath of the spirit, knowledge. So, the master embraces his disciple to transmit the breath, the spiritual soul. It is a sign of spiritual intimacy and not carnal. As an exchange of breath, it marks communion and reciprocal spiritual regeneration



Jesus and Mary Magdalene stained glass window of Kilmore Church (Scotland)

What meaning should we give to the Christ kiss?


The Greek word “koinonós” written on the papyrus indicates that Mary is not the Jesus lover, but his companion (the word is masculine), his alter ego.
In this passage, I think that the Gospel according to Philip only explains what place Mary Magdalene holds. She is the equal of Jesus, initiated by excellence. And the kiss illustrates this: by kissing on the mouth, Jesus and Mary Magdalene exchange their spiritual breath. The kiss is the image of the breath of knowledge that Jesus places in Mary Magdalene to become his relay, his new messenger after his death.

Thus, she acquires her new status,
that of Apostle to the Apostles.


The codices called “Nag Hammadi library”, with their leather protection.

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