Study Guide

Gospel of Matthew Kiss of Death

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Kiss of Death

How do you go about ruining a lovely gesture like a kiss? Just ask Judas.

A "kiss of death" is basically something that seems okay on the surface but actually leads to your ruin. For example, it might not seem like a big deal when your friend comes up to you and kisses you on a lovely night in a garden. Happens all the time, right? Okay, maybe a little overly touchy-feely, but we're not worried.

Of course, when this happens to Jesus, it signals the end for him. Judas is giving him up to the authorities. And even though Jesus is embracing death, he's also a little hurt. After all, this sign of friendship has marked him as a dead man. And that, Shmoopers, is Irony 101.

Sealed with a Kiss

We don't recommend trying the Kiss of Death at home. Instead, check out these incarnations all over pop culture:

  • Kiss of Death was an Oscar-nominated movie in 1947.
  • The movie must have been good since it got rebooted in 1995 with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Nicolas Cage.
  • Rachel Caine uses the phrase as the title for one of the books in her Morganville Vampire series.
  • Rapper Jadakiss titled his 2004 album "Kiss of Death" and has a track with the same name.
  • In Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus mournfully sings the line, "Judas, must you betray me with a kiss?" Yes. Yes, he must. 
  • And our favorite allusion to the Kiss of Death: Harry Potter. Granted, that kiss can be warded off with a swift "Expecto Patronum!" but the basic idea of a smooch that sends you to your grave is still there.

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