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Acts of Philip

The Acts of Philip is one of several texts comprising the New Testament apocrypha and has been referred to by scholars studying Christian origins and those considering the implications of the Jesus tomb.

The Acts of Philip is said to date back to the fourth or fifth century. It is believed that texts like the Acts of Phillip were removed from the New Testament canon in the fourth century because they did not adhere to common cultural and church practices established at the time.

The Acts of Philip is often attributed to the Christian Gnostics, a religious sect whose many gospels, such as the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Thomas, make up the New Testament apocrypha.

The contents of the Acts of Phillip relate events surrounding the lives of the apostles following the death of Jesus. As is the case with the other Gnostic writings, the spiritual role of Mary Magdalene has proved to be the most contentious subject in the text. Some believe that passages relate Mary's privileged status and leadership role amongst the apostles, a view that has not been espoused by Christian theology in the past.

Who Is Philip

In the Acts of Philip, Philip is believed to be one of the apostles of Jesus who appears in the New Testament. In the Acts of Philip, the apostle recounts his travels, preachings, and miracles after the death of Jesus. He is accompanied by Bartholomew (whom Philip introduces Jesus to in John 1:43) as well as his sister Mariamne, who is identified as Mary Magdalene.

The Apostle Philip also appears in the Gospel of John when Jesus inquires about the cost of bread to feed thousands of men, when Philip leads Hellenized Jews to see Jesus, and is present at the Last Supper.

Scholars believe that figures such as Philip, Thomas, Peter, and James (the brother of Jesus) directed their missions to pagan groups or the so-called Hellenists of the canonical New Testament during their ministry.

Notable Passages

The contents of the Acts of Philip relate 15 acts performed by Philip during his ministry prior to his death by inverted crucifixion. It has been said that the community described in the Acts of Philip offers insight into early Christian practices, as led by different apostles, that differ from what became mainstream Christian practices. For instance, some consider the Acts of Philip as representing church leadership that was more democratic, and where men and women served as equals. Other practices such as strict vegetarianism and abstinence could be discerned from these texts. A Eucharist-like ceremony has also been described, during which vegetables and water were consumed instead of bread and wine.

Mary as Mariamne

Mary Magdalene is often identified by the name "Mariamne." As the sister of Philip in the Acts of Phillip, she leads the ministry along with him and the apostle Bartholomew. Many have been interested to find Mary's actions in the Acts of Philip including preaching in the streets, her practice as a spiritual doctor and founder of spiritual clinics, her performance of miracles, including using saliva in order to cure a blind man, and her baptism of women alongside Philip's baptism of men.


Jesus of Nazareth Mary Magdalene: Mariamne Early Christianity
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