The Ritual Kiss in Early Christian Worship

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Joint Liturgical Studies 36

This study investigates the developments in the use and meaning of the ritual kiss (i.e. the ‘holy kiss’ or ‘kiss of peace’) from the New Testament period through to the fifth century. The kiss involves the senses of touch, taste, and smell, and probably has its origins in primitive human behaviour, since similar behaviours of licking, sniffing, and touching with the mouth can be found in many animal species. Examples of the kiss occur in the literature and artwork of Europe and the Middle East from very ancient times, and from then until the present, the kiss has served two related functions: communication and the delineation of social boundaries.

L. Edward Phillips