Egyptian manuscript offers different story of Last Supper
The recently deciphered manuscript claims that Jesus had the power to change shape and his last supper was actually with Pontius Pilate.
- Damien Gayle
- March 18, 2013
A 1,200-year-old Egyptian manuscript tells the story of the crucifixion with incredible plot twists - including the revelation that Jesus could change shape.
The ancient illuminated text's claim explains why Judas used a kiss to betray Jesus, since the Christian Messiah had the ability to transform his appearance.
It also claims Jesus in fact spent his last supper with the man who ordered his execution, Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, who is said to have offered to sacrifice his own son in Jesus' place.
And it defies the official Easter timeline by putting the day of Jesus' arrest on Tuesday evening, rather than the canonically agreed Thursday.
The translation from the original Coptic has been revealed for the first time in a new book by Roelof van den Broek, emeritus professor of the History of Christianity at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
In the commonly-accepted Bible story it is claimed that the apostle Judas agrees to betray Jesus in exchange for cash, then kissed him to reveal his identity.
The newly-deciphered text explains that, far from a sign of affection or guilt, the kiss was Judas' way of forestalling any shapeshifting confusion.
'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...' it reads.
For a man who could walk on water, raise the dead, feed 5,000 people with just a single loaf of bread and a fish, and turn water into wine, such abilities are perhaps unsurprising.
But shapeshifting is not the only superpower the ancient manuscript attributes to Jesus - it also says that he could even turn himself invisible.
It claims that on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus ate dinner with Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect who decided his sentence - who, it is said, remarkably offered his son to be crucified in place of the Messiah.
Jesus declined the offer, explaining that if he could escape from his fate if he wanted to.
'Pilate, then, looked at Jesus and, behold, he became incorporeal: He did not see him for a long time,' the text says.
Later that night, according to the manuscript, Pilate and his wife dreamed of an eagle representing Jesus being killed.
The incredible text, which is thought to be some 1,200 years old, is written in the name of St Cyril of Jerusalem, although, Professor van den Broek says, it was probably written by someone else.
Back then it was looked after by monks at the Monastery of St Michael in the desert of north-west Egypt, south of Cairo.
The text was rediscovered in 1910 and, the following year, it was bought along with other manuscripts by the wealthy Wall Street financier JP Morgan.
Morgan's collections were later given to the public and they are now kept in the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.
Source: Daily Mail