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The Apocryphal New Testament Easy to use collection of English translations of the New Testament Apocrypha.

The Acts of Philip

M. R. James described this work as ‘grotesque’ but ‘yet a catholic novel’. Like the Acts of Thomas, the original was divided into separate acts, of which there were apparently fifteen. Chapters 1–7 seem to have been a separate composition from chapter 8‐the Martyrdom. The Martyrdom, itself a homogeneous work, also circulated as a separate work: it occurs in various recensions, three of which are set out in Bonnet's text. The complete work is no longer extant. Even with the additions to Bonnet's Greek text to be published by Bovon from the Athos manuscript Xenophontos 32 Act X is still wanting, and parts of XI and fragments of XIV and XV are also missing. 1 A sample of the first acts appears in B. Bouvier and F. Bovon, ‘Actes de Philippe, I, d'après un manuscrit inédit, in D. Papandreou, W. A. Bienert, and K. Schäferdiek (eds.), Oecumenica et Patristica (Festschrift for W. Schneemelcher) (Geneva, 1989), 367–94. The separate act found only in Syriac and summarized by James, ANT 450–2, cannot easily be fitted into the Greek text. The Greek text itself combines separate episodes, sometimes in a rough and abrupt manner, into a sequence of acts preceding the Martyrdom. The Latin Acts of Philip that forms Pseudo‐Abdias, book 10, diverges from the Greek account.

The work probably originated in the fourth–fifth century, and seems to have drawn inspiration from the major apocryphal Acts. The titles of the individual acts are:

  • I. When he came out of Galilee and raised the dead man.

  • II. When he entered Greece of Athens (or upper Greece).

  • III. In the land of the Parthians.

  • IV. The daughter of Nicocleides, whom he healed at Azotus.

  • V. Done in the city of Nicatera, and concerning Ireus.

  • VI. In the city of Nicatera, a city of Greece.

  • VII. Of Nerkela, the wife of Ireus in Nicatera.

  • VIII. The kid and the leopard in the wilderness become believers (see translation below).

  • IX. Concerning the dragon that was slain.

  • X. Not extant.

  • XI. The conclusion of XI survives and includes a prayer based on the Acts of John 94–6 .

  • XII. The leopard and the kid ask for communion.

  • XIII. Arrival in Hierapolis.

  • XIV. Performed on Stachys the blind.

  • XV. Concerning Nicanora, the governor's wife. The martyrdom of Philip (summary below).

A translation of Act VIII is given below because it includes a popular theme in apocryphal literature, namely that of animals who are believers (Act XII has the animals asking for communion), and because its introduction has an interesting link with the beginning of the Acts of Thomas, the Martyrium Prius (a Greek martyrdom of Andrew), and the Acts of Andrew and Matthias with the dispersal of the apostles by lot. This is followed by a summary of the Martyrdom.

Editions

Greek

  • Tischendorf, Apoc. Apoc. 141–56.

  • Lipsius–Bonnet, ii.2, 1–90 (with a later digest, 91–8).

  • James, Apoc. Anec. i. 158–63.

Syriac

  • Wright, i. 73–99; ii (Eng. trans.), 69–92.

Slavonic

  • de Santos Otero Altslav. Apok. i. 124–9 (martyrdom).

  • Armenian, 2 A French translation of the Armenian martyrdom appears in Leloir, CCA 4, 448–59. Georgian, and Irish versions also exist.

The preaching and martyrdom are found in Coptic, and through Coptic, in Arabic and Ethiopic:

Coptic

  • Guidi, AAL. R 4, 3.2 (1887), 20–3; Italian trans., Giornale, 27–9.

  • O. von Lemm, ‘Koptische apokryphe Apostelacten, I’, in Mélanges Asiatiques 10 (St Petersburg, 1892), 110–47.

Arabic

  • Smith Lewis, Acta Myth. 51–8; Myth. Acts, 60–9.

Ethiopic

  • Malan, 66–72.

  • Wallis Budge, Contendings, i. 126–39; ii (Eng. trans.), 146–62.

Modern Translations

English

  • Walker, 429–39 (summary).

  • James, 439–53 (summary), 469 (summary of Ps.‐Abdias 10).

French

  • Migne, Dictionnaire, ii, cols. 679–88 (including part of Ps.‐Abdias 10).

  • Éac, 1181–320.

  • F. Amler, F. Bovon, B. Bouvier, Actes de l'apôtre Philippe (Turnhout, 1996) (= Apocryphes 8).

Italian

  • Erbetta, ii. 451–87, 488–90 (from Ps.‐Abdias 10).

  • Moraldi, ii. 1625–32 (summary), 1604–6 (trans. of part of Ps.‐Abdias 10).

General

  • Lipsius, ii.2, 1–53; Ergänzungsband, 64–73.

  • J. Flamion, ‘Les trois recensions grecques du martyre de l'apôtre Philippe’, in Mélanges d'histoire offerts a Ch. Moeller, i (Louvain and Paris, 1914), 215–25 (= Recueil de travaux publiés par les membres des conferences d'histoire et de philologie 40).

  • E. Peterson, ‘Die Häretiker der Philippus‐Akte’, ZNW 31 (1932), 97–111.

  • —‘Zum Messalianismus der Philippus‐Akten’, Oriens Christianus NS 7 (1932), 172–9.

  • —‘Die Philippus‐Akten in Armenischen Synaxar’, ThQ 113 (1933), 289–98.

  • A. Kurfess, ‘Zu den Philippus‐Akten’, ZNW 44 (1952–3), 145–51.

  • F. Bovon, ‘Les Actes de Philippe’, ANRW 2.25.6, 4431–4527.

  • Hennecke5, ii. 424–30 (A. de Santos Otero); Eng. trans. ii. 468–73.

Translation

VIII. The kid and the leopard in the wilderness become believers

It came to pass when the Saviour divided the apostles and each went forth according to his lot, that it fell to Philip to go to the country of the Greeks: and he thought about it hard, and wept. And Mariamne his sister (it was she who made ready the bread and salt at the breaking of bread, but Martha was the one who ministered to the multitudes and laboured much), seeing it, went to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, do you not see how my brother is vexed?’ And he said, ‘I know, you chosen among women; but go with him and encourage him, for I know that he is a wrathful and rash man, and if we let him go alone he will bring many retributions on men. But lo, I will send Bartholomew and John to suffer hardships in the same city, because of the great wickedness of those who dwell there; for they worship the viper, the mother of snakes. You change your woman's aspect and go with Philip.’ And to Philip he said, ‘Why are you fearful? for I am always with you.’

So they all set out for the land of the Ophiani; and when they came to the wilderness of dragons, behold, a great leopard came out of a wood on the hill, and ran and cast himself at their feet and spoke with human voice, ‘I worship you, servants of the divine greatness and apostles of the only‐begotten Son of God; command me to speak perfectly.’ And Philip said, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, speak.’ And the leopard adopted perfect speech and said, ‘Hear me Philip, groomsman of the divine word. Last night I passed through the flocks of goats near the mount of the she‐dragon, the mother of snakes, and seized a kid; and when I went into the wood to eat, after I had wounded it, it took a human voice and wept like a little child, saying to me, “O leopard, put off your fierce heart and the beastlike part of your nature, and put on mildness, for the apostles of the divine greatness are about to pass through this desert, to accomplish perfectly the promise of the glory of the only‐begotten Son of God.” At these words of the kid I was preplexed, and gradually my heart was changed, and my fierceness turned to mildness, and I did not eat it. And as I listened to its words I lifted up my eyes and saw you coming, and knew that you were the servants of the good God. So I left the kid and came to worship you. And now I beseech you to give me liberty to go with you everywhere and put off my beastlike nature.’

And Philip said, ‘Where is the kid?’ And he said, ‘It is cast down under the oak opposite.’ Philip said to Bartholomew, ‘Let us go and see him that was smitten, healed, and healing the smiter.’ And at Philip's bidding the leopard guided them to where the kid lay. Philip and Bartholomew said, ‘Now know we of a truth that there is none that surpasses your compassion, O Jesu, lover of man; for you protect us and convince us by these creatures to believe more and earnestly fulfil our trust. Now therefore, Lord Jesus Christ, come and grant life and breath and secure existence to these creatures, that they may forsake their nature of beast and cattle and come to tameness, and no longer eat flesh, nor the kid the food of cattle; but that men's hearts may be given them, and they may follow us wherever we go, and eat what we eat, to your glory, and speak after the manner of men, glorifying your name.’

And in that hour the leopard and kid rose up and lifted up their fore‐feet and said, ‘We glorify and bless you who have visited and remembered us in this desert, and changed our beastlike and wild nature into tameness, and granted us the divine word, and put in us a tongue and sense to speak and praise your name, for great is your glory.’ And they fell and worshipped Philip and Bartholomew and Mariamne; and all set out together, praising God.

Summary

In the days of Trajan, after the Martyrdom of Simon, son of Clopas, bishop of Jerusalem, successor to James, Philip the apostle was preaching through all the cities of Lydia and Asia. And he came to the city of Ophioryme, which is called Hierapolis of Asia, and was received by Stachys, a believer. And with him were Bartholomew, one of the Seventy, and his sister Mariamne, and their disciples. And they assembled at Stachys' house. And Mariamne sat and listened to Philip discoursing. He spoke of the snares of the dragon, who has no shape in creation, and is recognized and shunned by beasts and birds. For the men of the place worshipped the snake and had images of it; and called Hierapolis Ophioryme. And many were converted. And Nicanora the proconsul's wife believed; she was diseased, especially in her eyes, and had been healed. She now came in a silver litter. And Mariamne said in Hebrew, ‘Alikaman, ikasame, marmari, iachaman, mastranan, achaman’, which means: O daughter of the father, my lady, who was given as a pledge to the serpent, Christ is come to you. And Nicanora said, ‘I am a Hebrew, speak to me in my fathers' tongue. I heard of your preaching and was healed.’ And they prayed for her. But her tyrant husband came and said, ‘How is this? who has healed you?’ And she said, ‘Depart from me, and lead a chaste and sober life.’ And he dragged her by the hair and threatened to kill her. And the apostles were arrested, and scourged and dragged to the temple, and shut up in it with the leopard and the kid. 1 Some MSS omit ‘with the leopard and the kid’. The people and priests came and demanded vengeance on the sorcerers. The proconsul was afraid of his wife, for he had been almost blinded by a wonderful light when he looked through the window at her when praying. They stripped and searched the apostles for charms, and pierced Philip's ankles and thighs and hung him head downward, and Bartholomew they hung naked by the hair. And they smiled on each other, as if they were not being tormented. But Mariamne on being stripped became like an ark of glass full of light and fire, and everyone ran away. And Philip and Bartholomew talked in Hebrew, and Philip said, ‘Shall we call down fire from heaven?’ And now John arrived, and asked what was happening, and the people told him. And he was taken to the place. Philip said to Bartholomew in Hebrew, ‘Here is John the son of Barega (or, he that is in Barek), that is (or, where is) the living water.’ And John said, ‘The mystery of him who hanged between the heaven and the earth be with you.’

Then John addressed the people, warning them against the serpent. When all matter was wrought and spread out throughout the system of heaven, the works of God entreated God that they might see his glory; and when they saw it, their desire became gall and bitterness, and the earth became the storehouse of that which went astray, and the result and the superfluity of the creation was gathered together and became like an egg; and the serpent was born.

The people said, ‘We took you for a fellow citizen, but you are in league with these men. The priests are going to wring out your blood and mix it with wine and give it to the viper.’ When they came to take John their hands were paralysed. John said to Philip, ‘Let us not render evil for evil.’ Philip said, ‘I shall endure it no longer.’ The three others dissuaded him; but he said, ‘Abalo, arimouni, douthael, tharseleën, nachaoth, aeidounaph, teleteloein’, which is (after many invocations descriptive of God): ‘Let the deep open and swallow these men: yea, Sabaoth.’ It opened and the whole place was swallowed, about seven thousand men, except where the apostles were. And their voices came up, crying for mercy and saying, ‘Lo, the cross enlightens us.’ And a voice was heard: ‘I will have mercy on you in my cross of light.’ But Stachys and his house, and Nicanora, and fifty others, and one hundred virgins remained safe. Jesus appeared and rebuked Philip. But he defended himself. And the Lord said, ‘Since you have been unforgiving and wrathful, you shall indeed die in glory and be taken by angels to paradise, but shall remain outside it forty days, in fear of the flaming sword, and then I will send Michael and he shall let you in. And Bartholomew shall go to Lycaonia and be crucified there, and Mariamne's body shall be laid up in the river Jordan. And I shall bring back those who have been swallowed up.’ And he drew a cross in the air, reaching down into the abyss, and it was filled with light, and the cross was like a ladder. And Jesus called the people, and they all came up, save the proconsul and the viper. And seeing the apostles they mourned and repented. And Philip, still hanging, spoke to them and told them of his offence. And some ran to take him down, but he refused and spoke to them . . .  . ‘Be not grieved that I hang thus, for I bear the form of the first man, who was brought upon earth head downwards, and again by the tree of the cross made alive from the death of his transgression. And now I fulfil the precept. For the Lord said to me, “Unless you make that which is beneath to be above, and the left to be right (and the right left), you shall not enter into my kingdom.” Be like me in this: for all the world is turned the wrong way, and every soul that is in it.’ Further he spoke to them of the incarnation, and bade them loose Bartholomew, and told him and Mariamne of their destiny. ‘Build a church in the place where I die, and let the leopard and kid be there, and let Nicanora look after them till they die, and then bury them at the church gate: and let your peace be in the house of Stachys’: and he exhorted them to purity. ‘Therefore our brother Peter fled from every place where a woman was: and further, he had offence given by reason of his own daughter. And he prayed the Lord, and she had a palsy of the side that she might not be led astray.’ Bury me not in linen like the Lord, but in papyrus, and pray for me forty days. Where my blood is dropping a vine will grow, and you shall use the wine of it for the cup, and partake of it on the third day. And he prayed the Lord to receive him, and protect him against all enemies: ‘Let not their dark air cover me, that I may pass the waters of fire and all the abyss. Clothe me in your glorious robe and your seal of light that always shines, until I have passed by all the rulers of the world and the evil dragon that oppose us.’ And he died. And they buried him as he directed. And a heavenly voice said he had received the crown.

After three days the vine grew up. And they made the offering daily for forty days, and built the church and made Stachys bishop. And all the city believed. And at the end of forty days the Saviour appeared in the form of Philip and told Bartholomew and Mariamne that he had entered paradise, and bade them go their ways. And Bartholomew went to Lycaonia and Mariamne to Jordan, and Stachys and the brethren abode where they were.

Notes:

1 A sample of the first acts appears in B. Bouvier and F. Bovon, ‘Actes de Philippe, I, d'après un manuscrit inédit, in D. Papandreou, W. A. Bienert, and K. Schäferdiek (eds.), Oecumenica et Patristica (Festschrift for W. Schneemelcher) (Geneva, 1989), 367–94.

2 A French translation of the Armenian martyrdom appears in Leloir, CCA 4, 448–59.

1 Some MSS omit ‘with the leopard and the kid’.

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