The Kiss of Jesus to Mary
- There is still a slight problem ...
- We also read in the Gospel according to Philip:
The companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene. And Christ loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth.
This is one of two quotations that the author of The Da Vinci Code has used to claim that Mary of Magdala is the companion of Jesus. How do you respond to that?
- To be more exact, this is one of the only two passages used by Dan Brown in support of his argument. We have already spoken above about the first one, that is to say the passage taken from the Gospel according to Mary ...
- Right, but this time, the text seems unambiguous ...
- But some clarification is required about the exact nature of the “kiss”. First of all, did you know that the word “mouth” does not appear in the Coptic manuscript?
- In fact, the text has a gap here. It is assumed that it is the word that appeared in the manuscript, but we are not absolutely sure. Other parts of the body have also been proposed with more or less likelihood: “the feet”, “the cheek”, “the forehead”, “the hand” ... So many proposals that are much less ambiguous but unlikely, in any case, to provide any romantic intrigue, isn’t it?
- Sure! If Jesus only gave Mary Magdalene a kiss on the forehead or the cheek, it is no longer a scoop.
- But our readership, I believe, is a little more demanding. It is not satisfied with poorly put together montages or easy and ready-made answers ...
- I hope so! However, given the context, “the mouth” seems to be the most likely option here, right?
- Yes. It is probably the mouth.
- Ah! So?
- So ... this is again a question of context. For Gnostics, the kiss is a sign of spiritual intimacy and not carnal. As an exchange of breath, it marks communion and reciprocal spiritual regeneration. In the Gospel according to Mary, after the final departure of the Risen One, it is Mary herself who goes to the distraught disciples and gives them all a kiss on the mouth. Kissing was common in Gnostic communities, but it was the same in the early Christian communities.
- Kissing ... on the mouth?
- Absolutely. A kiss was exchanged after the common prayer at the time of the Eucharist. It was originally a sign of belonging to the same family and it was also a mark of friendship and esteem. See the Book of Proverbs:
He kisses the lips Who gives a right answer.
In this perspective, the kiss of Judas is – in the Gospels – the unequivocal sign of supreme betrayal!
- Does Judas also kiss Jesus on the mouth?
- Of course. Maybe you thought he kissed him on the cheek? We have to always try to put things in context.
- And what about kissing between a man and a woman?
- It was the same, under certain conditions. But outside of the Church and certain circles or communities, the kiss was reserved for family members. The kiss on the mouth was used to express blood kinship. Thus, the brothers kissed their sisters, the father kissed his daughters, the sons kissed their mother, and vice versa. In another Gnostic text, the Second Apocalypse of James, it is his “brother” James whom the Risen One kisses on the mouth. And in the Gospel according to Mary, it is simply his mother that he kisses.
- How to be sure?
- In the Gospel of John, when Mary of Magdala recognizes the Risen One, he exclaims:
Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father: but go unto my brethren, and say to them ...
Much has been written about this passage. According to an ancient tradition, Mary was simply eager to kiss her Son. This is what Saint Ephrem tells us:
Thus, after His victory over Sheol, when His mother saw it [the miracle of the Resurrection], she wished to express affection for Him like a mother.
The Gospel according to Mary simply echoes this tradition.
- Did she really want to kiss him on the mouth?
- At that time, maternal embrace and kiss on the mouth went hand in hand. Besides, we still have other Coptic texts which testify to the past vitality of this tradition and which have never been recorded before.
- Are these well-known texts?
- No, not really ... at least so far. In a Coptic Gospel fragment whose original title is lost – perhaps the Gospel of Gamaliel – published in 1904 under the title Gospel of the Twelve Apostles, the appearance to Mary of Magdala (the mother of Jesus in the text) is thus related:
Mary opened her eyes, for they were lowered in order not to view the earth, scene of so many dreadful events. She said to Him with joy: “Rabboni, my Lord, my God, my Son, You are resurrected, indeed resurrected.” She wished to hold Him in order to kiss Him on the mouth. But He prevented her and pleaded with her, saying: “My mother, do not touch me. Wait a little [...] Now therefore, O my mother, hasten to tell my brothers, and say to them ...”
- It is absolutely unequivocal!
- This tradition is found, in particular, in a series of Coptic texts falsely attributed to Cyril of Jerusalem:
He said to her: “Mariham!” She recognized that it was her Son and wanted to embrace Him, exclaiming in Hebrew: “Rabboni” (which translates as ‘Master’). She ran to meet Him, wanting, in her joy, to embrace Him and to kiss his mouth – since no human being would be able to restrain his joy at such a moment! – but He wanted to hold her back and said to her: “Do not touch me ...”
And again, this is Mary speaking:
“I was so happy that I approached to embrace Him as was my habit. He said to me: “Do not touch me ...”
And there are many others ...
- It is hardly believable! ... But do we know why Jesus refuses his mother’s embrace?
- Perhaps the Risen One must first ascend to Heaven to receive this mark of affection from his Heavenly Father before receiving it from his earthly mother. This is what emerges, at least, from another Coptic text – the Book of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Bartholomew the Apostle – which says that after having appeared to his mother:
The Savior went away to ascend into the heavens [...] And the Father, Who was upon His throne, embraced His beloved Son, and He placed upon His head the great crown of glory and blessing, etc.
- This, in any case, puts an end to the debate about the true identity of “Mary” in the so-called Gnostic Christian texts, a question that has divided scholars for many decades!
- On the one hand, there was nothing more natural for a mother than to kiss her son on the mouth. On the other hand, such a spontaneous outburst of love and joy perfectly finds its place in the narrative framework of the Gospel story. Mary wants to embrace and kiss Jesus because He is her own son and she believed him to be “forever gone”. The Gospel according to Mary, in which the mother of Jesus has a privileged status by the fact that her Son “kissed her on the mouth” and that he “loved her more than any other woman”, belongs to this tradition.