I know that the “Gospel of Philip does not have much if any real historical veracity to it about Jesus’ life, but does the references about Jesus and Mary Magdalene being lovers and the holes in the papyrus ‘kissing’ verse (verses 32 and 55 in your “Lost Scriptures” book), help support the view that this most likely Gnostic Christian sect truly believed and taught that Jesus and Mary M were married?
Yes, this is one of those questions I get asked about on occasion. I have a reasonably full discussion of the relevant issues in my book Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene. In the book I put the discussion in the context of – yes, you guessed it — Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, the one source many people turn to for the Gospel of Philip. (!) Here’s what I say there:
Some of the historical claims about the non-canonical Gospels in the Da Vinci Code have struck scholars as outrageous, or at least outrageously funny. The book claims, for example, that some of these Gospels were discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls. That of course is completely wrong: the Dead Sea Scrolls do not contain any Gospels, or any Christian writings of any sort. They are Jewish texts, which never mention Jesus or any of his followers. And the novel claims that Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene is frequently reported in the Gospels that did not make it into the New Testament. On the contrary, not only is their marriage not reported frequently, it is never reported at all, in any surviving Gospel, canonical or non-canonical. I’ll have more to say about this in a later chapter. For now I want to consider the Gospel of Philip, which is the Da Vinci Code’s star witness for the case that Jesus and were husband and wife.
The Gospel of Philip is one of the most puzzling and convoluted of the writings discovered at Nag Hammadi. It consists of a number of sayings and reflections about the nature of reality and humans’ relationship to it, all within the context of a gnostic understanding of the world. The book is filled with hard-to-interpret parables, metaphorical statements, theological claims, analogies, exhortations and so on, in what appears to be a random sequence. This is not an easy text to interpret. Many readers simply throw up their hands in despair. Just to give you a taste, consider one of its early statements:
A gentile does not die, for he has never lived in order that he may die. He who has believed in the truth has found life, and this one is in danger of dying, for he is alive. Since Christ came the world has been created, the cities adorned, the dead carried out. When we were Hebrews we were orphans and had only our mother, but when we became Christians we had both father and mother. Those who sow in winter reap in summer. The winter is the world, the summer the other eternal realm….
And so it goes.
Despite its generally opaque quality there are some fascinating statements made in the Gospel of Philp, and two of them involve Mary Magdalene. These are….
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