A recently deciphered Egyptian text says that Jesus of Nazareth was a shape-shifter, along with some other interesting apocryphal details and twists not yet seen in the crucifixion story.
The Egyptian text was only recently deciphered, and dates back almost 1,200 years. Written in the Coptic language, it says that Jesus had dinner with Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who turned him over to the Pharisees, the night before he was crucified, and that Pilate offered his own son to be executed in Christ’s place.
It also offers a unique explanation for Judas Iscariot’s use of a kiss to identify Jesus to the Roman soldiers who were sent to arrest him. Jesus was a shape-shifter, so he could have avoided arrest with his supernatural abilities. The text also puts the day of Jesus’ arrest as Tuesday, contradicting the mainstream account in which it falls on a Thursday.
Scholars were quick to point out that because this text tells a radically different version of the crucifixion doesn’t mean that this account is what actually happened. In fact, through a historian’s scope, the radical difference of the account actually takes away from its credibility.
Instead, this version of the crucifixion just shows what Coptics living at the time seemed to believe, according to Roelof van den Broek of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who published text’s translation in the book Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem on the Life and the Passion of Christ.
Van den Broek told NBC News that “in Egypt, the Bible had already become canonized in the fourth/fifth century, but apocryphal stories and books remained popular among the Egyptian Christians, especially among monks.”
He said that though the people of the monastery would have believed this version of the tale, “in particular the more simple monks,” he thinks that the text’s author personally doubted the version of the story, and that it shows in the account.
“I find it difficult to believe that he really did, but some details, for instance the meal with Jesus, he may have believed to have really happened,” van den Broek writes. “The people of that time, even if they were well-educated, did not have a critical historical attitude. Miracles were quite possible, and why should an old story not be true?”
Interestingly, Pontius Pilate is considered a saint in both Coptic and Ethiopian traditions, which explains his more sympathetic portrayal here.
Do you think Jesus was a shape-shifter?