The Gospel According to Philip, like the more well-known Gospel According to Thomas, forms part of the extensive Nag Hammadi Library, a group of papyrus codices discovered in 1945 outside the Egyptian village of Nag Hammadi, near Abydos and Luxor. Written in Coptic and dating from the first half of the fourth century, The Gospel According to Philip appears to follow the tradition of the Christian Gnostic teaching promulgated by Valentinus in the second century. While we have both original Greek fragments and a complete Coptic translation of the Thomas gospel, the only known instance of The Gospel According to Philip is contained within the Nag Hammadi codex.
Jesus took them all by stealth, for he did not appear as he was, but in the manner in which they would be able to see him. He appeared to them all. He appeared to the great as great. He appeared to the small as small. He appeared to the angels as an angel, and to men as a man. Because of this his word hid itself from everyone. Some indeed saw him, thinking that they were seeing themselves, but when he appeared to his disciples in glory on the mount he was not small.
The text, in an English translation by Wesley W. Isenberg, preserves seventeen sayings of Jesus, nine of which are also found in the canonical gospels; the others are unique to this work. Its references to Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ companion and its exploration of the mystical sacrament of the “Bridal Chamber” shed new light on the suppressed traditions of the early Gnostics.
Our edition of The Gospel According to Philip is modeled on the first book issued by Peter Bishop’s Petrarch Press, The Gospel According to Thomas (1986). Hand set and printed on our nineteenth-century Albion handpress, The Gospel According to Philip is 6 x 9 inches in size, with twelve copies printed on sheepskin parchment, and 100 copies printed on dampened handmade paper, produced especially for the Press by Ruscombe Mills in France. The text is set in the beautiful Dante Roman type, with each verse separated by ornaments in red. Both the paper and the parchment editions are bound in simple Roma-covered boards with a printed spine label, and are protected by a matching slipcase. The text runs to 34 pages and is preceded by a brief introduction.
And the companion of the [savior is] Mary Magdalene. [The savior] loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her [mouth]. The rest of the disciples… They said to him, “Why do you love her more than all of us?‚” The Savior 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.”
Every hand-printed book is the bearer of an untold story – the story of its own making. For Philip, one incident in particular remains vividly in mind. Because the text was set by hand in a continuous block with no paragraph breaks, only one person could typeset at a time. After many late nights in the pressroom, a weary apprentice turned to our pressmaster, William Bentley, in mute need of inspiration. William pulled out the book, Printing on the Iron Handpress by Richard-Gabriel Rummonds, and read, “Printing on the iron hand press does not result in instant gratification.” At once chastened and consoled, we continued working into the night.
The Gospel According to Philip
The Petrarch Press, 2006
6 x 9 inches; pages viii, 34.
12 numbered copies (I-XII) on sheepskin parchment; bound in Roma-covered boards with slipcase.
100 numbered copies (13-112) on handmade Ruscombe Mills paper; bound in Roma-covered boards with slipcase.
The Petrarch Press
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