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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(נָשִׁק , nashak'; Gr. φιλέω, to love, and derivatives). Originally the act of kissing had a symbolical character, as a natural species of language, expressive of tender affection and respect. It appears from the case of Laban and Jacob (Genesis 29:13) that this method of salutation was even then established and recognised as a matter of course. In Genesis 27:26-27, a kiss is a sign of affection between a parent and child; in Song of Solomon 8:1, between a lover and his bride. It was also, as with some modern nations, a token of friendship and regard bestowed when friends or relations met or separated (Tobit 7:6; Tobit 10:12; Luke 7:45; Luke 15:20; Acts 20:37; Matthew 26:48; 2 Samuel 20:9); the same custom is still usual in the East (Tischendorf, Reise, i, 255). The Church of Ephesus wept sore at Paul's departure, and fell on his neck and kissed him. When Orpah quitted Naomi and Ruth (Ruth 1:14), after the three had lifted up their voice and wept, she "kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clave unto her."
That it was usual to kiss the mouth (Proverbs 24:26) may be presumed (Genesis 33:4; Exodus 4:27; Exodus 18:7; 1 Samuel 20:41). Kissing the lips was not only permitted, but customary among near relatives of both sexes, both in patriarchal and in later times (Genesis 29:11; Song of Solomon 8:1). Between individuals of the same sex, and in a limited degree between those of different sexes, the kiss on the cheek as a mark of respect or an act of salutation has at all times been customary in the East, and can hardly be said to be extinct even in Europe. Mention is made of it
(1) between parents and children (Genesis 27:26-27; Genesis 31:28; Genesis 31:55; Genesis 48:10; Genesis 1, 1; Exodus 18:7; Ruth 1:9; Ruth 1:14; 2 Samuel 14:33; 1 Kings 19:20; Luke 15:20; Tobit 7:6; Tobit 10:12);
(2) between brothers, or near male relatives or intimate friends (Genesis 29:13; Genesis 33:4; Genesis 45:15; Exodus 4:27; 1 Samuel 20:41);
(3) the same mode of salutation between persons not related, but of equal rank, whether friendly or deceitful, is mentioned (2 Samuel 20:9; Psalms 85:10; Proverbs 27:6; Luke 7:45 [1st clause]; 22:48; Acts 20:37);
(4) as a mark of real or affected condescension (2 Samuel 15:5; 2 Samuel 19:39);
(5) respect from an inferior (Luke 7:38; Luke 7:45, and perhaps 8:44). In other cases the kiss is imprinted on the beard (see Arvieux, 3:182); sometimes on the hair of the head (see D'Orville, Ad Chariton, 8:4), which was then taken hold of by the hand (2 Samuel 20:9). Among the Arabs the women and children kiss the beards of their husbands or fathers. The superior returns the salute by a kiss on the forehead. Kissing the hand of another appears to be a modern practice. In Egypt an inferior kisses the hand of a superior, generally on the back, but sometimes, as a special favor, on the palm also. To testify abject submission, and in asking favors, the feet are often kissed instead of the hand (Luke 7:38). " The son kisses the hand of his father, the wife that of her husband, the slave, and often the free servant, that of the master. The slaves and servants of a grandee kiss their lord's sleeve, or the skirt of his clothing" (Lane, fod. Eg. ii, 9; compare Arvieux, Trav. p. 151; Burckhardt, Trav. i, 369; Niebuhr, Voy. i, 329; ii, 93; Layard, Nin. i, 174; Wellsted, Arebia, i, 341; Malcolm, Sketches of Persia, p. 271). Friends saluting each other'join the right hand, then each kisses his own hand, and puts it to his lips and forehead, or breast; after a long absence they embrace each other, kissing first on the right side of the face or neck, and then on the left, or on both sides of the beard (Lane, ii, 9,10; comp. Irby and Mangles, p. 116; Chardin, Voyage, 3:421; Burckhardt, Notes, i, 369; Russell, Aleppo, i, 240). The passage of Job 31:27, " Or my mouth hath kissed my hand," is not in point (see Menken, Dissert. in p. 1., Lipsi.e, 1711; Dought ei, Analect. i, 211; Kieseling, in the Nov. Miscell. Lips. 9:595; Bottiger, Kunstnzythol. i, 52), and refers to idolatrous usages (see L. Weger, De osc. manus idolctrica, Regiom. 1698), namely, the adoration of the heavenly bodies (comp. Cicero, Ver. 4:43; Gesenius, Comment. on Isaiah 49:23). (See ADORATION).
It was the custom to throw kisses towards the images of the gods, and towards the sun and moon (1 Kings 19:18; Hosea 13:2; comp. Minuc. Felix, ii, 5; Tacit. Hist. 3:24, 3; Lucian, De Salt. c. 17; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 28:5). The kissing of princes was a token of homage (Psalm ii, 12; 1 Samuel 10:1; Xenophon, Cyrop. 7:5, 32). So probably in Genesis 41:40, "Upon thy mouth shall all my people kiss," where the Auth. Vers. interprets, "According to thy word shall all my people be ruled" (see Gesenius, Thesaur. Heb. p. 923). We may compare the Mohammedan custom of kissing the Kaaba at Mecca (Burckhardt, Trav. i, 250, 298, 323; Crichton, Arabia, ii, 215). Xenophon says (Agesil. 5:4) that it was a national custom with the Persians to kiss whomsoever they honored; and a curious passage to this effect may be found in the Cyclopaedia (i, 4, 27). Kissing the feet of princes was a token of subjection and obedience, which was sometimes carried so far that the print of the foot received the kiss, so as to give the impression that the very dust had become sacred by the royal tread, or that the subject was not worthy to salute even the prince's foot, but was content to kiss the earth itself near or on which he trod (Isaiah 49:33; Micah 7:17; Psalms 72:9; comp. Genesis 41:40; 1 Samuel 24:8; Matthew 28:9; see Dion Cass. lix, 27; Seneca, De Benef: ii, 12). Similar usages prevail among the Orientals to the present day (see Wilkinson, Anc. EI. ii, 203; Layard, Ninev. i, 274; Harmer, Obs. i, 336; Niebuhr, Travels, i, 414; comp. Assemani, Bibl. Or. i, 377; Otho, Lex. Raub. p. 233; Barhebr. Chronicles p. 148, 189, 569). The Rabbins, in the meddlesome, scrupulous, and falsely delicate spirit which animated much of what they wrote, did not permit more than three kinds of kisses-the kiss of reverence, of reception, and of dismissal (Breshith Rabba on Genesis 29:11).
The peculiar tendency of the Christian religion to encourage honor towards all men, as men, to foster and develop the softer affections, and, in the trying condition of the early Church, to make its members intimately known one to another, and unite them in the closest bonds, led to the observance of kissing as an accompaniment of that social worship which took its origin in the very cradle of our religion. (See Coteler, Ad constitut. Apost. ii, 57; Fessel, Advers. sacr. p. 283.) Hence the exhortation, " Salute each other with a holy kiss" (Romans 16:16; see also 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; in 1 Peter 5:14 it is termed "a kiss of charity"). " It might, perhaps, be understood among the members of the Church that the kiss was to be exchanged between persons of the same sex only, though no direction to this effect is found in the apostolic epistles, and it is known that in process of time the heathen took occasion from the practice to reproach the Christians for looseness of manners. On this account care was taken (as appears from the Apostolical Constitutions) to maintain in respect to it the distinction of sexes; but the practice itself was kept up for centuries, especially in connection with the celebration of the Supper. It was regarded as the special token of perfect reconciliation and concord among the members of the Church, and was called simply the peace (εἰρήνη ), or the kiss of peace (osculum pacis). It was exchanged in the Eastern Church before, but in the Western after the consecration prayer. Ultimately, however, it was discontinued as a badge of Christian fellowship, or a part of any Christian solemnity" (Fairbairn). (See Apost. Constit. ii, 57; 8:11; Just. Mart. Apol. i, 65; Palmer, On Lit. ii, 102, lad note from Du Cange; Bingham, Christ. Antiq. b. 12:c. 4:§ 5, vol. 4:49; b. ii, c. 11:§ 10, vol. i, 161; b. ii, c. 19:§ 17, vol. i, 272; b. 4:c. 6:§ 14, vol. i, 526; b. 22:c. 3:§ 6, vol. 7:316; see also Cod. Just. V. Tit. 3:16, de Don. ante Nupt.; Brande, Pop. Antiq. ii, 87). The peculiar circumstances have now vanished which gave propriety and emphasis to such an expression of brotherly love and Christian friendship. (See Wemyss, Clavis Synmbolica, s.v.) The kiss of peace still forms lpart of one of the rites of the Romish Church. It is given immediately before the communion; the clergyman who celebrates mass kissing the altar, and embracing the deacon, saying, " Pax tibi, frater, et ecclesiae sanctx Dei;" the deacon does the same to the subdeacon, saying, "Pax tecum;" the latter then salutes the others.
Kissing the foot or toe has been required by the popes as a sign of respect from the secular power since the 8th century. The first who received this honor was pope Constantine I. It was paid him by the emperor Justinian II, on his entry into Constantinople in 710. Valentine I, about 827, required every one to kiss his foot, and from that time this mark of reverence appears to have been expected by all popes. When the ceremony takes place, the pope wears a slipper with a cross, which is kissed. In more recent times, Protestants have not been required to kiss the pope's foot, but merely to bend the knee slightly. (See ADORATION).
On the subject of this article generally, consult Emmerich, De Osculis ap. Vet. in discessu (Meining. 1783); Heckel, De Osculis (Lipsie, 1689); Pfanner, De Osculis Christianor. Veter., in his Obs. Sacr. ii, 131-201; Kempius, De Osculis (Francof. 1680); Jac. Herrenschmidius, Osculogia (Viteb. 1630); Miller, De Osculo Sancto (Jena, 1674); Boberg, De Osculis Hebr.; Lomeier, Diss. genial. 1p. 328; also in Ugolini, Thesaur. vol. xx; Gotz, De Osculo (Jena, 1670); Lange, Friedenkuss d. alten Christen (Leipz. 1747); compare Fabricius, Bibliogr. antiquar. p. 1016 sq.; and other monographs cited by Volbeding, Index, p. 55, 147. (See SALUTATION).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Kiss'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/k/kiss.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.