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Kiss of Judas

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Title: Kiss of Judas  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Judas Iscariot, Life of Jesus in the New Testament, Jesus, Scrovegni Chapel, Bargain of Judas
Collection: Gospel Episodes, Judas Iscariot, Kissing
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Kiss of Judas

Kiss of Judas (1304–06), fresco by Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy

According to the Synoptic Gospels, Judas identified Jesus to the soldiers by means of a kiss. This is the kiss of Judas, also known (especially in art) as the Betrayal of Christ, which occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper, and leads directly to the arrest of Jesus by the police force of the Sanhedrin (Kilgallen 271).

More broadly, a Judas kiss may refer to "an act appearing to be an act of friendship, which is in fact harmful to the recipient."[1]


  • In the New Testament 1
  • In art 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5

In the New Testament

Both Matthew (26:47–50) and Mark (14:43–45) use the Greek verb kataphilein, which means to kiss firmly, intensely, passionately, tenderly, or warmly. It is the same verb that Plutarch uses to describe a famous kiss that Alexander the Great gave Bagoas.[2] According to Matthew, Jesus responded by saying: "Friend, do what you are here to do." This has caused speculation that Jesus and Judas were actually in agreement with each other and that there was no real betrayal.[3] Luke (22:47–48) presents a very different picture: Jesus sees Judas coming, and stops him by asking: "Judas, are you betraying the son of man with a kiss?" The kiss is apparently not delivered at all. However, Geza Vermes presents a very different view in his book Jesus the Jew: The Aramaic word barnasha—literally "son of man" but meaning "this person"—is used in Rabbinic literature as a humble, self-effacing way to refer to oneself, to the speaker. Interpreted as such, Jesus would have said: "You would use a kiss to betray me?"

In the Gospel of John, nothing at all is said about the kiss of Judas. In the Gospel of Luke, this episode is immediately followed by the healing the ear of a servant.

Details of The Betrayal can be found, inverted, in the Gnostic Apocalypses of Nag Hammadi (First and Second James, and Peter), with James in the role of Judas: The kiss from James to Jesus as a sign of spirit transference (both Apocalypses of James), the three denials of Peter, not Jesus (Apocalypse of Peter), and such asides as "Hail, Master [or brother]!" (Second Apocalypse of James and Matthew 26), "stripped and rising naked" (Second Apocalypse of James and Mark 14), and, "armed multitudes seizing" (First Apocalypse of James and Mark 14). [4]

In art

The scene is nearly always included, either as the Kiss itself, or the moment after, in the Arrest of Jesus, or the two combined (as above), in the cycles of the Life of Christ or Passion of Jesus in various media.

See also

Events in the
Life of Jesus
according to the Gospels
Life of Jesus

Portals: Bible

 Book:Life of Jesus


  1. ^ "Judas kiss". 
  2. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Alexander, 67
  3. ^ Pagels, Elaine at Karen L. King. "The Gospel of John suggests that Jesus himself was complicit in the betrayal, that moments before Judas went out, Jesus had told him, 'Do quickly what you are going to do' (John 13:27)". Reading Judas, The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity, Penguin Books, New York, 2007, pages 3–4, ISBN 978-0-14-311316-4.
  4. ^ "The (First) Apocalypse of James -- The Nag Hammadi Library". 
  5. ^ For a discussion of the kiss of Judas with respect to Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ (now in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin), together with a summary of traditional ecclesiastical interpretation of that gesture, see Franco Mormando, "Just as your lips approach the lips of your brothers: Judas Iscariot and the Kiss of Betrayal" in Saints and Sinners: Caravaggio and the Baroque Image, ed. F. Mormando, Chestnut Hill, MA: The McMullen Museum of Art of Boston College, 1999, 179–90.

Further reading

  • Grubb, Nancy (1996). The Life of Christ.  
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