So far this year there has been an unusual silence among those in mainstream media normally intent on creating titillating skepticism for Lent and Eastertide. It’s probably because Benedict’s resignation has overshadowed everything among editors.
Nonetheless the impulse is there. And this is the best of the season, so far: An article in LiveScience, Shape-Shifting Jesus Described in Ancient Egyptian Text. No, really, that is the title for the story:
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).
Just so you know that LiveScience is written for children between the ages of 4 and 8, I must repeat, “The discovery of the text doesn’t mean these events happened.”
Super-Shroud-of-Turin-Skeptic Antonio Lombatti picked up the story which he posted in his blog Archeologia Biblica e Storia della Chiesa. Super-Baptist-Pastor/Blogger Jim West picked it up from Antonio and reported it in his blog Zwinglius Redivivus with a posting entitled Oh Boy- More Nutbaggery From the Pseudo-’gospels’
In a set of back and forth mutual comments, Jim suggested that the History Channel would make a movie about it. Antonio speculated that it would be used as more evidence that the Shroud of Turin is authentic.
Given that the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Georgetown University professor of theology told Vatican Radio that the new pope would have to be someone who,”looks like Jesus Christ with an MBA,” one reader thought he meant “looks like” as in the Shroud of Turin thus ruling out Timothy Dolan or the authenticity of the shroud depending on what happens in conclave.