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The Gospel of Philip

  • R. McL. Wilson (a1)


The document with which this paper is concerned was discovered in 1945 or 1946 in the Gnostic library of Nag Hammadi, in the same codex as the more famous Gospel of Thomas. Unlike Thomas, however, it has so far attracted comparatively little attention—largely because it affords no scope for the seekers after sensation. It has been held by reputable scholars that Thomas goes back at least in part to a tradition independent of our canonical Gospels, but Philip has never been regarded as anything but a Gnostic work. Yet it is not thereby devoid of interest or of significance.



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Page 98 of note 1 Pahor, Labib, Coptic Gnostic Papyri in the Coptic Museum at Old Cairo, Cairo 1956 .

Page 98 of note 2 TLZ 1959; reprinted in Leipoldt-Schenke, , Koptisch-gnostische Schriften aus den Papyrus-Codices vonNag-Hammadi, Hamburg-Bergstedt 1960 .

Page 98 of note 3 Puech in Coptic Studies in Honor of W. E. Crum, Boston 1950, and in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, NT Apokryphen 1, Tübingen 1959 (Eng. trans., London 1963); Doresse, , The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics, London 1960 . For the literature relating to the discovery see Giversen, S., ‘Nag Hammadi Bibliography, 1948-1963’ in Studia Theologica, XVII (1963), 139 ff.

Page 98 of note 4 Grant, R. M., ‘Two Gnostic Gospels,’ JBL, LXXIX (1960) 111 ; id., ‘The Mystery of Marriage in the Gospel of Philip,’ Vigiliae Christianae, XV (1961) 129 ff.; Segelberg, E., ‘The Coptic-Gnostic Gospel according to Philip and its Sacramental System,’ Numen VII (1960), 189 ff.

Page 99 of note 1 JTS, NS XIII (1962), 35 ff.

Page 99 of note 2 Wilson, R. McL., The Gospel of Philip, London 1962 .

Page 99 of note 3 Till, W.C., Das Evangelium des Philippus. Koptischer Text mit Übersetzung und Wörterverzeichnis, Berlin 1963 .

Page 99 of note 4 Epiphanius, Pan. xxvi, 12, 2-3. According to Doresse (op. cit. 225), the passage appears in the Nag Hammadi Gospel of the Egyptians.

Page 99 of note 5 PL 106, 11-14 Labib, the end of ’saying’ 26 in Schenke’s division, which has been followed in the remaining references.

Page 99 of note 6 Leipoldt-Schenke, op. cit. 38. Segelberg thinks this probably correct.

Page 101 of note 1 Burkitt, F.C., Church and Gnosis, Cambridge 1932 ; Casey, R. P., JTS, XXXVI (1935), 45 ff., and in The Background of the New Testament and its Eschatology, Cambridge 1956, 52 ff.; Pétrement, S., Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale, LXV (1960), 385 ff.

Page 101 of note 2 Cf.Till, , Die gnostischen Schriften des koptischen Papyrus Berolinensis 8502, Berlin 1955 ; Wilson, , New Testament Studies 111 (1957), 233 ff.; Puech in Hennecke-Schneemelcher, op. cit. 251 ff.

Page 102 of note 1 Cf. Theophilus, Ad Autol, i. 12. Tertullian also derives the name of Christ from the chrism (De Bapt. 7; cf. Iren. Dem. 53).

Page 102 of note 2 Cf. Puech’s survey of the Gnostic Gospels in Hennecke-Schneemelcher.

Page 103 of note 1 Obolensky, D., The Bogomils, Cambridge 1948, 273 .

Page 103 of note 2 Hennecke-Schneemelcher, 221 f.

Page 103 of note 3 The doctrine of the resurrection would appear to have been a very live issue in the second century. The earliest stage of development seems to have been a defence of the doctrine in the face of pagan opposition (e.g. Athenagoras), but later we find references to denial of the resurrection within the Church. The necessity of a resurrection of the flesh is affirmed by 2 Clem, and Justin, and especially by Tertullian. From some of the Nag Hammadi texts, as yet unpublished, it would appear that the Gnostics adapted the Pauline doctrine for their own ends: it is necessary to rise in the flesh, but only to strip off the garment of the body and put on the heavenly robe. But it was perhaps not so much the doctrine itself as the implications of the denial which were important to the ‘Orthodox’ ( cf.Evans, E., Tertullian’s Treatise on the Resurrection, London 1960, xi ).

The Gospel of Philip

  • R. McL. Wilson (a1)


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