Was Jesus A “Shapeshifter”?

Jesus as portrayed in “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Godspell,” and “I, Pet Goat II”

The story of a translated 1,200-year-old Egyptian text that described Jesus as, basically, a “shapeshifter” has been around since 2013. But it’s just crossed paths with me now, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it!

Written by a one St. Cyril of Jerusalem in the Coptic language, it recounts the crucifixion of Jesus…with a few wild twists not seen in the “official” text. The biggest one happens when Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss…apparently, he had to use a kiss because the Messiah was a major shapeshifter with multiple identities:

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…



I don’t see how this could be so surprising, in the sense that…I mean, he’s JESUS! He can pretty much do what he wants. He came back from the dead and asked Doubting Thomas to put his fingers in his hand-wounds. Certainly, he could pull off changing appearance.

Now…if you want to get into deeper “shapeshifting” lore through the “historically-approved” and “fringe” mythologies…you’re sort of getting into “trickster” territory. The shapeshifting archetype is often merged with the Trickster…and it can get androgynous. And it can get “alieny” too. So I can see how this whole thing could get dicey to continue contemplating.

But you could go the other route here. If, as some believe, the Bible is more like an “encoded” collection of esoteric metaphors, then the “shapeshifting” passage is referring more to the enduring quality of the Jesus lore among many different cultures over many different periods of time (thus the apparent different skin tones and even nationalities)…or even just the different “personas” the Jesus archetype has taken (as a child, as a wise old man, as the kind of “alieny” fellow, and etc.).


The text was translated by Roelof van den Broek, from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands; it also “reveals” that Jesus could turn invisible, and into the shape of an eagle. Still…I don’t see how this would be a dealbreaker for Christians (other than getting into the “if it isn’t specifically in the official Bible, it’s not right thing”)…he’s Jesus, so of course he could turn invisible and into an eagle.

As for the Jesus/Egypt connection…there is a lot of stuff, both historical and “fuzzy,” (cough…channeling!…cough) that indicate there were some ancient Egyptian (and Sumerian and Indian etc.) influences on the Bible. There are even theories that a teenaged Jesus studied in Egypt, India, etc, etc.

There’s a ton of “apocryphal” text out there. And there is a lot of stuff that was purposely left out of the “official” version due to politics, and what have you. Reading about new translations and possible new angles to the story of Jesus doesn’t lessen the impact to me of Jesus as a person and a deity. But that’s just me. I “get” that other people may find it blasphemous. Religion has always been a bit of a battlefield; I mean…go ask Jesus.