Kiss of Judas

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"The Kiss of Judas" redirects here. For the film, see The Kiss of Judas (film).
Kiss of Judas (1304–06), fresco by Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy

The kiss of Judas, also known (especially in art) as the Betrayal of Christ, is how Judas identified Jesus to the multitude with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests and elders of the people to arrest him, according to the Synoptic Gospels. The kiss 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.

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[edit]

The gospels of Matthew (26:47–50) and Mark (14:43–45) both use the Greek verb καταφιλέω (kataphileó), 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] The compound verb (κατα-) "has the force of an emphatic, ostentatious salute".[3] Lutheran theologian Johann Bengel suggests that Judas kissed Him repeatedly: "he kissed Him more than once in opposition to what he had said in the preceding verse: Greek: φιλησω, philēsō, a single kiss (Matthew 26:48), and did so as if from kindly feeling".[4]

According to John, 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.[5]

Jesus' arrest follows immediately.[6]

In art[edit]

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[edit]

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

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Wikipedia book Book:Life of Jesus


  1. ^ "Judas kiss". 
  2. ^ Plutarch, Parallel Lives, Alexander, 67
  3. ^ Vincent's Word Studies on Matthew 26, accessed 27 February 2017
  4. ^ Bengel's Gnomon on Matthew 26, accessed 27 February 2017
  5. ^ Pagels, Elaine and King, Karen L., 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: "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)".
  6. ^ Matthew 26:50
  7. ^ 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[edit]