It was in March last year when reports flooded the headlines about a newly deciphered Egyptian text, dating back almost 1,200 years, which controversially described Jesus as having the ability to change shape. But just as quickly as the story made its way through major news sites around the world, it disappeared and has hardly been mentioned since. Why has the study and research surrounding this text faded into oblivion? Why has there been virtually no scholarly debate on the subject?
Written in the Coptic language, the ancient text written in the name of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a distinguished theologian who lived during the fourth century, tells part of the crucifixion story of Jesus with apocryphal plot twists, some of which have never been seen before. They have been revealed thanks to a translation carried out by Roelof Van den Broek of Ultrecht University in the Netherlands, and published in the book ‘Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem On the Life and the Passion of Christ: A Coptic Apocryphon’.
The ancient text explains why Judas used a kiss, specifically, to betray Jesus. According to the canonical bible, the apostle Judas betrays Jesus in exchange for money by using a kiss to identify him leading to Jesus’ arrest. This apocryphal tale explains that the reason Judas used a kiss, specifically, is because Jesus had the ability to change shape.
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 …
This leads Judas to suggest using a kiss as a means to identify him. If Judas had given the arresters a description of Jesus he could have changed shape. By kissing Jesus Judas tells the people exactly who he is.