The text's title is modern; the only connection with Philip the Apostle is that he is the only apostle mentioned (at 73,8). The text makes no claim to be from Philip, though, similarly, the four New Testament gospels make no explicit claim to be written by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
A single manuscript of the Gospel of Philip, in Coptic, was found in the Nag Hammadi library, a cache of documents that was secreted in a jar and buried in the Egyptian desert at the end of the fourth century, when Gnostic writings and pagan ones were being burned by the official church. The text was bound in the same codex that contained the better-known Gospel of Thomas.
Among the mix of aphorisms, parables, brief polemics, narrative dialogue, biblical exegesis (especially of Genesis), and dogmatic propositions, Wesley T. Isenberg, the editor and translator of the text, has enumerated seventeen sayings (logia) attributed to Jesus, nine of which are citations and interpretations of Jesus' words already found in the canonical gospels The new sayings, "identified by the formula introducing them ('he said', 'the Lord said', or 'the Saviour said') are brief and enigmatic and are best interpreted from a gnostic perspective," Isenberg has written in his Introduction to the text (see link).
Much of the Gospel of Philip is concerned with Gnostic views of the origin and nature of mankind and the sacraments of baptism, unction and marriage. The Gospel emphasizes the sacramental nature of the embrace between man and woman in the nuptial chamber, which is an archtype of spiritual unity, which entails the indissoluble nature of marriage Many of the sayings are identifiably gnostic, and often appear quite mysterious and enigmatic:
One saying in particular appears to identify the levels of initiation in gnosticism, although what exactly the bridal chamber represented in gnostic thought is currently a matter of great debate:
Another interpretation of the Gospel of Philip finds Jesus as the central focus of the text. This view is supported by the Gnostic scholar, Marvin W. Meyer. Evidence for this belief can be found in the following selection of quotations from the gospel:
Thus, according to Meyer, it is clear that without Jesus, the rituals and mysteries mentioned in this gospel would have no context. Furthermore, this text seems to follow the beliefs of the Valentinian Christian sect, a group that worshipped the Gnostic Christ, and is often linked to what is sometimes thought to be Valentinius' own text, the Gospel of Truth.
The Gospel of Philip ends with its promise:
If anyone becomes a 'son of the bridechamber' he will receive the Light. If anyone does not receive it while he is in these places, he cannot receive it in the other place. He who receives any Light will not be seen, nor can he be held fast.No one will be able to trouble him in this way, whether helives in the world or leaves the world. He has already received the Truth in images, and the World has become the Aeon. For the Aeon already exists for him as Pleroma, and he exists in this way. It is revealed to him alone, since it is not hidden in darkness and night but is hidden in a perfect Day and a holy Night.
There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and his sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.
That passage is also interesting for its mention of Jesus's sister (Jesus's sisters are also mentioned in the New Testament at Mark 6:3), although the text is confusing on that point: she appears to be described first as the sister of Jesus's mother Mary, then as the sister of Jesus, although this may be a translation problem. The other passage referring to Mary Magdalene is incomplete because of damage to the original manuscript. Several words are missing. The best guesses as to what they were are shown below in brackets. Most notably there is a hole in the manuscript after the phrase "and used to kiss her often on her...." But the passage appears to describe Jesus kissing Magdalene and using a parable to explain to the disciples why he loved her more than he loved them:
And the companion of [the saviour was] Mary Magdalene. [Christ loved] her more than [all] the disciples, [and used to] kiss her [often] on her [mouth? face? cheek? head?]. The rest of [the disciples were offended by it and expressed disapproval]. They said to him "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The Saviour answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.
Early and Medieval Rituals and Theologies of Baptism: From the New Testament to the Council of Trent.(Reformation and Modern Rituals and Theologies of Baptism: From Luther to Contemporary Practices)(Book review)
Mar 01, 2008; Early and Medieval Rituals and Theologies of Baptism: From the New Testament to the Council of Trent. By Bryan D. Spinks....