Jesus as Shapeshifter - Text from Morgan Library

The ancient text that describes Jesus as a shape-shifter

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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.

The Judas Kiss - 'Capture of Christ' by Cimabue, 13th Century AD ( Wikimedia Commons )

This understanding of Judas' kiss goes way back.  According to Van den Broek, the explanation of Judas’ kiss is first found in Origen, a theologian who lived 185-254 AD. In his work, Contra Celsum, the ancient writer, stated that "to those who saw him [Jesus] he did not appear alike to all."

Van den Broek is careful to note that he is not suggesting that Jesus was in fact shape changing but only that some people in early Christian times may have thought he was.

The text is one of fifty-five Coptic manuscripts that were found in 1910 by villagers digging for fertilizer at the site of the destroyed Monastery of Archangel Michael of the Desert near Al Hamuli in Egypt. Apparently, during the tenth century, monks had buried the monastery's manuscripts in a stone vat for safekeeping.  The monastery ceased operations around the early 10th century, and the text was rediscovered in the spring of 1910. In December 1911, it was purchased, along with other texts, by American financier J.P. Morgan. His collections, and the text described, are now housed in the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.

While headlines at the time of the announcement were quite sensationalist and described the text as containing Christianity-shattering information, the publishing scholar never claimed anything of the sort.  It is also clear that the text is not a hoax but a genuine item published by a respected scholar by a notable academic press (E. J. Brill). So why hasn’t such a fascinating text led to further research, interpretations, or discussion among scholars? 

Featured Image: Fragment of text from Morgan Library. Photo credit .

By April Holloway


Shape-Shifting Jesus Described in Ancient Egyptian Text – LiveScience

Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem On the Life and the Passion of Christ – by Roelof van den Broek

Treasures from the Vault – the Morgan Library

Guest Post: Roelof van den Broek – Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Life and the Passion of Christ

Cyril of Jerusalem - Wikipedia


The brother of Jesus, James, aka Joseph of Arimathia, was a known practical joker and reputed magician. It was he that arranged for Jesus to drink the venom so that he could be removed and buried in a short amount of time. The venom caused Jesus to lapse into a coma, and thereby be perceived as dead. The exact date of his crucificion can be tied down by the full eclipse of the sun that ooccured on that exact date.

It must have been slow acting venom. The gospels record that Jesus refused a drink on the cross, so if he had drunk venom it would have to have been before he was crucified, and hence to have taken several hours to work.

Ingesting venom would do nothing, that is one of the things that separates venom from poison.

Source? Link?

aprilholloway's picture

They are provided at the end of the article.

My request for sources was in response to the comment above, not the article.

Venom is not harmful when ingested. Poison is.

I am not sure if it is right to joke about this.

Sounds like a bunch of hog wash from an unbeliever.

"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". Does'nt this seem to happen CONSTANTLY around the world. The first thing that comes to my mind are all of those 'giant' bones found around the world, yet you hear or see nothing today. If it wasnt for those old newspaper articles and pics I wouldve never known about any of that stuff


if interested see, "The Ancient Giants who ruled America" Richard J Dewhurst, (Bear & Co) 2014

higlights the role the Smithsonian has played in wiping the Earliest American civilisation out of archaeological history. They have covered up the remains of hundreds and thousands of GIANTS, some over 10 feet tall and pre dating Clovis civilisations, because they didn't fit in with the emerging, Darwinian explanations of the late Victorian period or the ice age landbridge hypothesis for mans arrival in the Americas. They confiscated anything found. The evidence is still there but archaeologists are no longer taught about it and the ones that know, have convinced themselves they don't exist, that it's all a hoax.

Modern students lack the balls to question the obviously, dubious Status Quo.

rbflooringinstall's picture

I have done a lot of research on the Giants. They are red headed and they have been found all around the world wearing thick leather armor. It corresponds with an old Paiute story about the giants' skin being too thick to pierce with arrows. The Smithsonian covered up a good bit of information and findings related to the red headed giants, such as an Indian mound that was dug up and revealed to contain the skeletons of the Giants. Its all pretty fascinating.

Peace and Love,


.(~_^) No Surprise these valuable findings aren't talk about. For the same reason that the Vatican's Library holds so many of the worlds facts, truths and origins. Yet, for the sake of their religious empire we are not allowed access to this knowledge.

This is the History of Mankind .. what kind of person would feel we aren't worthy of the answers to our questions. For Money into their coffers, this would spoil the profits. So they keep us or try to .. thinking like Sheeple. SAD TIMES. in a world about communications. Which we are tied off from, the most important subject. Where do we come from ? Seems they don't want us to know.

From The Apocryphon of John "Straightway, while I was contemplating these things, behold, the heavens opened and the whole creation which is below heaven shone, and the world was shaken. I was afraid, and behold I saw in the light a youth who stood by me. While I looked at him, he became like an old man. And he changed his likeness (again), becoming like a servant. There was not a plurality before me, but there was a likeness with multiple forms in the light, and the likenesses appeared through each other, and the likeness had three forms."

To say no one is or has debated the nag hammadi text which include references about the aeons appearances would be incorrect. It is not surprising that this then would be new as the text themselves are not an easy read even for scholars and often are overshadowed by more popular texts such as the gospel of Thomas. short there is no conspiracy or hidden agenda, other then the nag hammadi text or scriptures are not mainstream christian beliefs hence will be available for those who actually seek it, ironically exactly what the text encourage from those wishing to find the truth...

This is interesting and I am going to have to do more research into this...Does it mean physical, or is the meaning of these times different? A great article!

Xtians are far too busy scraping the poop from their pants.

Vet ikke hva jeg skal skrive her

"[1] he does not have a single shape [2] his appearance changes [3] Sometimes...ruddy [4] sometimes...white [5] [6] sometimes wheat [gold?] coloured [7] sometimes pallid like ascetics [8] sometimes...a youth [9] sometimes an old man ..."

April presumably Alkhemist'll confirm this but that sure reads like some descriptions o' the hypnotic visual effects an' stages experienced durin' the culminatin' stages o' the Great Work.

Even Judas' kiss's perceived at certain highest esoteric levels as not an act o' betrayal but spiritu'ly equivalent t'the flame which ignites the athanor initiatin' the world's transformation.

It would be good to find more evidence. What if Jesus was just in disguise?

What if Jesus was in disguise? Why not, he could have been, he was a radical military-esq type leader and in other ways he wanted peace. Jesus didn't have a solid stance on anything really, he flopped on issues and means to attaining goals. But to think he could of been a shape shifter, he would be the only one I have ever heard of. Who else in history has said to be a shape shifter?

Please let us know if your research yields anything. Thank you.

Off the top of my head, one of the Ten chinese saints was said to have turned into bats or something. Look at wikipedia.

Did you ever find any others? I also find this fascinating. If you can point me toward any research you’ve done, I’d really appreciate it.


Interesting topic

angieblackmon's picture

i feel like this version of jesus gives more credit to some of the more fantasic stories of the bible...i mean if you're the son of god, why not be able to shapeshift? 

love, light and blessings


"So why hasn’t such a fascinating text led to further research, interpretations, or discussion among scholars? "

On the one hand the status quo in our society is the claim that the scientific method is the guide. But that claim is, to put it simply, a lie. The scientific method prescribes researching/investigating without prejudice or default assumptions. Yet that approach is rarely taken in any of the fields labeled science.

The default guide is materialism. A philosophy around which a canon has been developed. Texts such as this aren't given any serious consideration because that canon deems things such as it describes didn't happen and are, in fact, not possible. Those who think otherwise or even just open to the possibility will find themselves quickly maligned (or worse) by those indoctrinated with the aforementioned canon. A "those" that includes many who are viewed as the authorities,
default religion is not

johnblack's picture

As you say Saiko. Science today is not ‘free’ – and it has never been. It is bind to corporations, powerful religions, governments but even academic and scientific lobbies.

Anything that may compromise their power, the status quo or change the ‘balance’ is not accepted. Whatever we see as ‘breakthroughs’ in Science is only because the above Institutions want it to.

And as you say, all of this is because of lack of morality, because today’s ‘God’ is ‘Materialism’. I love the quote by Arthur Schopenhauer:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

I have written an article relative to this topic on Ancient Origins:

This is true. But it exists because the pendulum swung too far the other way(religion) and people were burned for questioning if the world was flat. I hope in the future society can find a middle ground.

DeAegean's picture

This explains the kiss and why Jesus is never clearly depicted as being anything but "God, the Son of God, Himself"

Roberto Peron's picture

It is not debated because it is not believed.  Shape Shifters are believed to be the myths of tribal peoples and nothing more.  Of course, IF we stopped passing off everything tribal peoples say as "myth" we just might learn something and, for some, that is frightening so better to just sweep the whole thing under that dirty old carpet.


Maybe the whole idea of shape shifting is too far fetched for a serious scholar. More so if he wants to be taken seriously.


Sunny Young

Well, Catholicism believes Jesus transfigures and transubstansiates himself... So the account/idea doesn't seem far fetched to me.

God said he made man in his image. I don't understand the concept, but I accept that He did it and that it means white, black, different shapes, etc. Why, then, is it difficult to believe that Jesus, the son of God, a Holy Spirit in the form of a man, could appear to different people in different colors and form?

The 1611 KJV bible in Genisis states We will make them in our image so God made them jn his image... We? Our?...

luvartifacts1's picture

April, this is a stunning research and remarkable article. Well wrttten and provides much innovative and new interesting information. Simply brilliant.

Lewis Hales


Jesus is God. Why couldn't he change shapes? He changed and became a man.

I have put together a series of attributes of Jesus that makes more sense than he actually being a real person.  There is no physical evidence of his existence and his story fits in the narrative and the proof and evidence is plain to see even in these times.  I would like to share it with you, but not in this public setting at this time. I am working on another book that this will be the central theme and I want to keep it to be exposed there publicly. I would like to use this article as another piece of evidence to my narrative.  How can I get your official permission? 



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