The Gospel of Philip – What is it?

The Gospel of Philip is considered one of the Gnostic gospels that was rediscovered in the Nag Hammadi library of documents in Egypt in 1945. It appears to date to the third century and includes teachings similar to other Gnostic literature of the time period.

The date of the document's origin is unknown. Because it focused much on the activity of the Gnostic leader Valentinus (who was in Rome around 138-158), scholars agree it was written no earlier than this time. It was likely written sometime later in either the late second or third century in part as a response to policies put in place by Valentinus.

Thus it is clear the Gospel of Philip was not written by the apostle Philip. Composed sometime between the late second to fourth century, it originated long after the lifetime of the New Testament apostle. No one knows who wrote the Gospel of Philip. Certainly the writer was a Gnostic from the time period, offering an alternative perspective to the traditional teachings of the church at that time.

The early church did not take the Gospel of Philip seriously. There was no collection of authoritative books that included this book. Further, no early copy of the Gospel of Philip exists in Greek, as is the case in the four New Testament Gospels. The remaining ancient copy is in Coptic and was "lost" for centuries.

The Gospel of Philip is the document responsible for popularizing the idea of a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Mentioned twice in the writing, we see, "There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary." Although "wife" if not mentioned here, many have understood it this way. The other mention that Jesus "kiss[ed] her often on the mouth" also has been used to suggest this relationship.

Similar to other alleged "missing Gospels" the Gospel of Philip is neither missing nor a gospel. It instead portrays an alternative version of Jesus and New Testament teachings from long after the New Testament period by those seeking to communicate a Gnostic-influenced Christianity that emphasized enlightenment rather than the actual facts of Christianity presented in the New Testament accounts.

Related Truth:

The Gnostic gospels – What are they?

The Gospel of Judas – What is it?

The Gospel of Mary (Magdalene) – What is it?

The Gospel of Thomas – What is it?

The Apocalypse of Peter – What is it?

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