Acts of Philip
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The Acts of Philip is a text discovered in 1974 by Franois Bovon and Bertrand Bouvier in the library of Xenophontos Monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. The manuscript dates from the fourteenth century but it is thought to be a copy of a fourth century original. Many of the stories in the manuscript were already known from other sources, but some were hitherto unknown. The narrative claims that Jesus sent out a group of followers to spread his message. The followers were Philip, Bartholomew, and a woman named Mariamne who is identified as Philip's sister. A number of sources have alleged that Bovon claims that that Mariamne could be identical to Mary Magdalene. However, Bovon himself denies this, writing in a letter to the Society of Biblical Literature:
As I was interviewed for the Discovery Channel's program The Lost Tomb of Jesus, I would like to express my opinion here.
First, I have now seen the program and am not convinced of its main thesis. When I was questioned by Simcha Jacobovici and his team the questions were directed toward the Acts of Philip and the role of Mariamne in this text. I was not informed of the whole program and the orientation of the script.
Second, having watched the film, in listening to it, I hear two voices, a kind of double discourse. On one hand there is the wish to open a scholarly discussion; on the other there is the wish to push a personal agenda. I must say that the reconstructions of Jesus' marriage with Mary Magdalene and the birth of a child belong for me to science fiction.
Third, to be more credible, the program should deal with the very ancient tradition of the Holy Sepulcher, since the emperor Constantine in the fourth century C.E. built this monument on the spot at which the emperor Hadrian in the second century C.E. erected the forum of Aelia Capitolina and built on it a temple to Aphrodite at the place where Jesus' tomb was venerated.
Fourth, I do not believe that Mariamne is the real name of Mary of Magdalene. Mariamne is, besides Maria or Mariam, a possible Greek equivalent, attested by Josephus, Origen, and the Acts of Philip, for the Semitic Myriam.
Fifth, the Mariamne of the Acts of Philip is part of the apostolic team with Philip and Bartholomew; she teaches and baptizes. In the beginning, her faith is stronger than Philip's faith. This portrayal of Mariamne fits very well with the portrayal of Mary of Magdala in the Manichean Psalms, the Gospel of Mary, and Pistis Sophia. My interest is not historical, but on the level of literary traditions. I have suggested this identification in 1984 already in an article of New Testament Studies.
Fran=C3=A7ois Bovon, Harvard Divinity School
Among the accomplishments of the group was the conversion of a talking leopard and a talking goat, as well as the slaying of a dragon. The text discovered by Bovon also described a community that practised vegetarianism and celibacy. Women in the community wore men's clothes and held positions of authority comparable to men, serving as priests and deacons. The community used a form of the eucharist where vegetables and water were consumed in place of bread and wine.
The manuscript discovered by Bovon has been published in a French translation. An English translation was planned "within a few years" (as of 2000). Other English translations are based on collections of fragments known from before Bouvon's discovery.
- ^ a b c d e f g http://www.harvardmagazine.com/on-line/0500113.html
- ^ http://www.magdalene.org/em_actsphilip.php "A complete collection of several already-known single Acts, Bovon's discovery filled in the blanks existing in previously-published translations of the Acts of Philip"
- ^ http://www.gnosis.org/library/actphil.htm
- ^ http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2000/02.03/apocrypha.html
 External links
- Text of the Acts of Philip (based on sources available before the Mount Athos discovery)
- Encyclopedia Magdalena: The Acts of Philip
- Fourth-Century Church Tales -- article from Harvard magazine
- Women Priests, Vegetarianism - An Early Christian Manuscript Holds Some Surprises -- from the Harvard University Gazette.
- Bovon's letter to the Society of Biblical Literature