Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Shape-Shifting Jesus Described in Ancient Egyptian Text
A newly deciphered Egyptian text, dating back almost 1,200 years, tells part of the crucifixion story of Jesus with apocryphal plot twists, some of which have never been seen before.
Written in the Coptic language, the ancient text tells of Pontius Pilate, the judge who authorized Jesus' crucifixion, having dinner with Jesus before his crucifixion and offering to sacrifice his own son in the place of Jesus. It also explains why Judas used a kiss, specifically, to betray Jesus — because Jesus had the ability to change shape, according to the text — and it puts the day of the arrest of Jesus on Tuesday evening rather than Thursday evening, something that contravenes the Easter timeline.
The discovery of the text doesn't mean these events happened, but rather that some people living at the time appear to have believed in them, said Roelof van den Broek, of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who published the translation in the book "Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem on the Life and the Passion of Christ"(Brill, 2013).
Copies of the text are found in two manuscripts, one in the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City and the other at the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania. Most of the translation comes from the New York text, because the relevant text in the Pennsylvania manuscript is mostly illegible.
Pontius Pilate has dinner with Jesus
While apocryphal stories about Pilate are known from ancient times, van den Broek wrote in an email to LiveScience that he has never seen this one before, with Pilate offering to sacrifice his own son in the place of Jesus.
A researcher has deciphered a 1,200-year-old Coptic text that tells part of the Passion (the Easter story) with apocryphal plot twists, some of which have never been seen before. Here, a cross decoration from the text, of which there are two copies, the best preserved in the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.
"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," reads part of the text in translation. 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." [Who Was Jesus, the Man?]
In the text, Jesus comforts him, 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 ..." the text read.
Pilate and his wife both have visions that night that show an eagle (representing Jesus) being killed.
In the Coptic and Ethiopian churches, Pilate is regarded as a saint, which explains the sympathetic portrayal in the text, van den Broek writes.
The reason for Judas using a kiss
In 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. [Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]
This understanding of Judas' kiss goes way back. "This explanation of Judas' kiss is first found in Origen [a theologian who lived A.D. 185-254]," van den Broek writes. In his work, Contra Celsum the ancient writerOrigen, stated that "to those who saw him [Jesus] he did not appear alike to all."
St. Cyril impersonation
The text is written in the name of St. Cyril of Jerusalem who lived during the fourth century. In the story Cyril tells the Easter story as part of a homily (a type of sermon). A number of texts in ancient times claim to be homilies by St. Cyril and they were probably not given by the saint in real life, van den Broek explained in his book.
Near the beginning of the text, Cyril, or the person writing in his name, claims that a book has been found in Jerusalem showing the 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 ..." reads part of the text.
Again, it's unlikely that such a book was found in real life. Van den Broek said that a claim like this would have been used by the writer "to enhance the credibility of the peculiar views and uncanonical facts he is about to present by ascribing them to an apostolic source," adding that examples of this plot device can be found "frequently" in Coptic literature.
Arrest on Tuesday
Van den Broek says that he is surprised that the writer of the text moved the date of Jesus' Last Supper, with the apostles, and arrest to Tuesday. In fact, in this text, Jesus' actual Last Supper appears to be with Pontius Pilate. In between his arrest and supper with Pilate, he is brought before Caiaphas and Herod.
In the canonical texts, the last supper and arrest of Jesus happens on Thursday evening and present-day Christians mark this event with Maundy Thursday services. It "remains remarkable that Pseudo-Cyril relates the story of Jesus' arrest on Tuesday evening as if the canonical story about his arrest on Thursday evening (which was commemorated each year in the services of Holy Week) did not exist!" writes van den Broek in the email.
A gift to a monastery ... and then to New York
About 1,200 years ago the New York text was in the library of the Monastery of St. Michael in the Egyptian desert near present-day al-Hamuli in the western part of the Faiyum. The text says, in translation, that it was a gift from "archpriest Father Paul," who, "has provided for this book by his own labors."
The monastery appears to have 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 would later be given to the public and are part of the present-day 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.
Who believed it?
Van den Broek writes in the email 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."
Whereas the people of the monastery would have believed the newly translated text, "in particular the more simple monks," he's not convinced that the writer of the text believed everything he was writing down, van den Broek said.
"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?" - Live Science
The Paranormal World: The Biblical Response to the Supernatural (Volume 1)
Jesus the Last Nephilim
U.S. golfer swallowed by sinkhole on 14th hole
Suddenly being swallowed up by the earth on a golf course's fairway drove a wedge between Mark Mihal and a stellar round.
The 43-year-old mortgage broker was counting his blessings Tuesday and nursing a dislocated shoulder sustained four days earlier when he tumbled into an 5.5 metre deep sinkhole on the 14th hole of the Annbriar Golf Club near Waterloo, Ill., just southeast of St. Louis.
Friends managed to hoist Mihal to safety with a rope after about 20 minutes. But the experience gave him quite a fright, particularly following the much-publicized recent death of a man in Florida who died when his bedroom fell into a sinkhole. That man's body hasn't been found.
Mihal said it was a real downer on what had been a fine outing.
With winter finally nearing an end, "it was the first day to get to play in a long time," he said. "So I wasn't expecting too much."
Indentation on course
Golfing with buddies, Mihal was waiting to hit his third shot, some 100 yards from the pin on the par 5, when he noticed a bathtub-looking indentation about knee deep just behind him on the fairway. At just one over par for the round, the golfer with a 6 handicap was on a roll.
Mihal remarked about how awkward it would be to hit out of the odd depression, and then walked over to give it a closer look and took one step onto it.
"It didn't look unstable," he said. "And then I was gone. I was just freefalling. It felt like forever, but it was just a second or two, and I didn't know what I was going to hit. And all I saw was darkness."
His golfing buddies didn't see him vanish into the earth but noticed he wasn't visible, figuring he had tripped and fallen out of sight down a hill. But one of them heard Mihal's moans and went to investigate.
"He just thought it was some crazy magic trick or something," Mihal said.
Getting panicky and knowing his shoulder "was busted," Mihal assessed his dilemma in pitch darkness as he rested on a mound of mud, wondering if the ground would give way more and send him deeper into the pit that was 10-feet wide at the opening, then broadened out into the shape of a bell below the surface.
"I was looking around, clinging to the mud pile, trying to see if there was a way out," he said. "At that point, I started yelling, "I need a ladder and a rope, and you guys need to get me out of here.'"
A ladder that was hustled to the scene was too short, and Mihal's damaged shoulder crimped his ability to climb.
"At some point, I said, 'I need to get out of here. Now,"' Mihal recalled.
One of his golf partners, a real-estate agent, made his way into the hole, converted his sweater into a splint for Mihal and tied a rope around his friend, who was pulled to safety.
"I felt fortunate I didn't break both legs, or worse," Mihal said.
While disturbing, such sink-holes aren't uncommon in southwestern Illinois, where old underground mines frequently cause the earth to settle. In Mihal's case, the sinkhole's culprit was subsurface limestone that dissolves from acidic rainwater, snowmelt and carbon dioxide, eventually causing the ground to collapse, said Sam Panno, a senior geochemist with the Illinois State Geological Survey.
That region "is riddled with sinkholes," with as many as 15,000 recorded, Panno said.
The one Mihal survived has him debating whether returning to Annbriar is a long shot.
"It's a great course. I love the course," Mihal said, having played Annbriar a couple dozen times over the past decade. "But I would have a tough time probably walking down that hole again."
The 20-year-old course proclaims on its website that "each year new golfers are tested by our challenging 18 holes of golf."
There's no mention of its newest — and most challenging — hole. - CBC
Telepathic UFO Encounter
Brooks, Oregon - 5/17/2009 - unedited: We normally go to Salem on Sunday morning. It was either the 17th or the 24th. We decided to return home which was not what we normally do, but had to get something from the house in Woodburn. We were heading North on I-5, and exited on the Brooks Exit #293. Pulled to the stop sigh and normally I just roll through while looking left. This time I just stopped and stared at the the (rough looking) double stacked plate disk with louvers on top and no landing gear. I told myself to get a good description of it, then by the time I had stared at it for less than a minute it cloaked. It looked just like a blink of an eye; only my eye did not blink. As it was cloaking I received a telepathic message that I saw nothing unusual, see the cows, and the irrigation equipment and the buildings in the background, the green grass; my attention was purposely redirected to other things instead of what I just saw. It was not until I was asked directly if I had ever seen a UFO, that I reviewed the scene and not only did I review the scene mentally. As I was recalling the event this evening (3/13/2013) I recalled that my first question (mentally to myself) was what is that?. The answer came immediately that "it" is a military craft and was not a science craft. It looked the part, kind of rusty and kind of "tired" looking like an old piece of equipment. It was hovering above some (Black Angus?) cattle that are normally in that field. The craft never moved, it just cloaked and told me to go home and keep this to yourself. I dont think I even mentioned it to Kathy; surely she must have noticed a delay as I sat and looked at this thing, but I dont recall if I actually spoke anything to her as I was being spoken to myself and as I think back on this there may have been a time slot missing. (45 seconds or so?) I did stare at it and there was a constant stream of thought going on as I describe above. I simply checked left and then turned right and continued toward Brooks (East); we went home and I dont think I even mentioned it to Kathy until this evening. I guess I am used to doing what Im told to do? wow. I do 3D CAD for a living, so I made a rough model of it and tried to shade it like it appeared to me from memory. Now I wish I had done this in 2009. I dont think Kathy can be regarded a witness. We never actually spoke about it. - MUFON CMS
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