Jesus a shape shifter Coptic manuscript claims: The Church of England Newspaper, March 24, 2013 p 7 March 24, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper.
Tags: Morgan Library, Pontius Pilate, pseodoepigraphia, Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem, Roelof van den Broek
A newly translated Egyptian homily dating from the eighth century claims Jesus was a shape shifter.
Dr. Roelof van den Broek of Utrecht University in his book “Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem on the Life and the Passion of Christ” (Brill, 2013) reports the newly translated sermon found in manuscripts held at the Morgan Library in New York and the University of Pennsylvania add an apocryphal incident to the passion narrative.
It relates the story of Pontius Pilate dinning with Jesus before his crucifixion and offering to sacrifice his own son in the place of Jesus. The homily also states that Judas used a kiss to identify and betray Jesus because Jesus had the ability to change shape. “Without further ado, Pilate prepared a table and he ate with Jesus on the fifth day of the week. And Jesus blessed Pilate and his whole house,” the text states. Pilate later tells Jesus, “well then, behold, the night has come, rise and withdraw, and when the morning comes and they accuse me because of you, I shall give them the only son I have so that they can kill him in your place.”
Jesus then comforts Pilate, who in the Coptic and Ethiopian churches is regarded as a saint, saying, “Oh Pilate, you have been deemed worthy of a great grace because you have shown a good disposition to me.” Jesus also showed Pilate that he can escape if he chose to. “Pilate, then, looked at Jesus and, behold, he became incorporeal: He did not see him for a long time …”
Judas’ kiss is the means by which the solders can identify Jesus, the text states. “Then the Jews said to Judas: How shall we arrest him [Jesus], for he does not have a single shape but his appearance changes. Sometimes he is ruddy, sometimes he is white, sometimes he is red, sometimes he is wheat coloured, sometimes he is pallid like ascetics, sometimes he is a youth, sometimes an old man …”
Dr van den Broek notes this interpretation of Judas’ kiss may come from Origen’s Contra Celsum which states that “to those who saw him [Jesus] he did not appear alike to all.”
Written in the name of the fourth century St. Cyril of Jerusalem a foreword states that a book has been found in Jerusalem revealing the true writings of the apostles on the life and crucifixion of Jesus. “Listen to me, oh my honored children, and let me tell you something of what we found written in the house of Mary …”
Excavated in 1910 from the remains of the library of the Monastery of St. Michael in the Egyptian desert near present-day al-Hamuli in the western part of the Faiyum, it was purchased in December 1911 by American financier J.P. Morgan for the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. The manuscript is currently displayed as part of the museum’s exhibition “Treasures from the Vault” running through May 5.