Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius of Tyana
by Flavius Philostratus
Chrestos Publishing (2007)
It has come to my attention that the publishers Chrestos Publishing have placed online the entire English translation of "The Life of Apollonius of Tyana", by Philostratus. Readers are encouraged to read this work. I have also personally purchaced three copies of the publication from the publishers, and at AU$20 per copy plus postage, the finished results were great value.
As a further introduction to this new publication of the work of Philostratus, the following article has been privately sourced from the publishers. It is hoped that all students of life find the time to read this text.
MOUNTAIN MAN GRAPHICS, AUSTRALIA
Did Constantine Invent Christianity?
Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus
The eight books comprising the Life of Apollonius by Flavius Philostratus were commissioned by the Empress Julia Domna around 220 AD. The Life of Apollonius is the longest biography which we have from the ancient world. Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus disappeared from circulation in Christian Europe and resurfaced from the Moslems who knew him as Balinas, and held him in high regard, in around 1500 AD. Apollonius or Balinas were known as alchemists in the Hermetic tradition in Europe and the Near East respectively.
Apollonius, Jesus and Paul
The appearance of Philostratus' work in Europe caused a major controversy in the Christian world because Apollonius appeared to be very similar to Jesus. Apollonius is the first historical celibate that we know of in Europe. As he never shaved or cut his hair, his appearance would have been not unlike our impression of Jesus. However that is only the beginning. Apollonius was educated in Tarsus, taught the masses in Ephesus, gave spiritual advice to the priesthood, cast out demons and raised people from the dead. And all during that period (Apollonius lived for 100 years) when Jesus and Paul were doing much the same thing in the same place at the same time. Yet, the Book of Apollonius never mentions any Biblical subjects, and vice versa, the Bible never mentions Apollonius of Tyana. What is going on here? Well before you get too smart and say that the history of Christianity was all said and done before 220 AD, so there is no contest here, let us have a closer look at this.
Marcion of Sinope
The supposed history of Christianity as we know it cannot be found in the history (from non Christian sources) that has been passed down to us from before the time of 140 AD. Why do I choose this date? Well Marcion of Sinope wrote the first Bible in that year. The first archaeological fragments of the Bible were dated 180-121 AD. "What about the Old Testament?", I can hear you thinking. Well that is the problem. Marcion's Bible consisted of 10 Pauline epistles, one Gospel and that's all. What is more, Marcion's bible was even shorter than that. For example Marcion's Gospel called Euangelion is identical to Luke but only two thirds as long.
Christianity is not Judaism
And what is missing throughout Marcion's Bible? Well you guessed it. There were no references to the Old Testament, Jehovah, angels and archangels. This is entirely consistent with the fact that if you find the original Jewish texts, that references like “They pierced my hands and my feet”, and “A virgin shall concieve” aren't there either! What does this mean? I would like to say “Christianity and Judaism are two entirely religions” - which is true, but it would be more accurate to say that the Roman Catholic Church sucked up each and every religion like a sponge to create their state religion – which is what Catholic means isn't it?
They Released Jesus the Son of the Father
Anyway I feel like I have digressed a little here, but the point is that by 220 AD when Philostratus wrote the Life of Apollonius, Christianity was not well established. Consider for example that Marcion's hero in his Gospel was a ghost (there was no virgin birth) and his name was Isu Chrestos. Jesus does appear as Barabbas. My 5th century New Testament calls him Jesus Barabbas (edited by the likes of Origen of Alexandria who didn't want Jesus to be associated with murders it seems). To make it worse Bar Abbas means Son of the Father. So Jesus Barabbas becomes Jesus the Son of the Father. So Jesus' only appearance in Marcion's Bible is “And they released Jesus the Son of the Father.” This is in part supported by the archaeological New Testament fragments, which incidentally are not Marcion's original, appearing in the decades ahead. In fact all the fragments are specifically not from Marcion's text. They are what was added to Marcion's text later (for example Hebrews and the Gospel according to John). What I wish to draw your attention to is that Jesus Christ is not mentioned here either, but rather the scribes used the two letters 'Iota Sigma' or “IS”. Just guessing here, could this stand for Isu? In short, the history of Christianity was not more solid that Philostratus' work by 220 AD, as I expect that Jesus Christ as we know him was invented by Constantine in the 4th century at the Nicean Council.
The Historical Apollonius
Whereas Philostratus' Apollonius of Tyana is heavily criticized by Christians and scholars, saying that Julia Domna sponsored a highly politicised version of the truth, I need to point out that there are four statues of Apollonius in existence and that he was a historical figure. In contrast, the only New Testament entity (apart from the obvious like Pilate) who is referred to in first century contemporary writings is John the Baptist! Josephus writes a few lines about “A man called Jesus Christ, dare we call him a man, for he walked as God.” However Josephus isn't a reliable historical source as it was only passed down to us by Christians. Also each of about three sources are very different after being heavily rewritten. Regarding the content of Apollonius of Tyana, other Pythagoreans of the first century were described elsewhere as having cast out demons. The historical person Apollonius of Tyana is recognizably similar to that in Philostratus' book. In addition we know that a passage in Apollonius of Tyana where Apollonius speaks out against animal sacrifice appears elsewhere in another ancient book, and is confirmed beyond doubt. Philostratus appeared to hate psychics and reminded the reader many times that it was inaccurate to describe Apollonius as a magician (although clearly he was).
Was Philostratus Biased?
The forward to the modern (Harvard) translation of Apollonius of Tyana is also reasonably cynical about the accuracy of the work. Whereas Philostratus claims that he had access to the Diary of Damis (Apollonius' lifelong companion) some regard this as a fabrication. One theory is that Philostratus could have easily obtained accurate geographical information from the travels of Alexander and Nearchus. It goes even further to point out that Philostratus' geography is appalling, and that where he cannot rely on Nearchus' information his accounts are full of obvious errors. However in my view it is also possible that Damis' diary existed, that Apollonius, who was one of the most educated men of all time had the presence of mind to carry Nearchus' works with him. If that were the case, Damis' diary would have been fairly accurate. Philostratus claims to have used sources in addition to Damis' diary. Perhaps they were inaccurate?
More Evidence Supporting Philostratus
Considering that some go as far as a saying that Apollonius never even visited India, how is it that his account of Babylon (which was on the way) is actually historically accurate, “a living city”, yet unknown to Apollonius' contemporaries? It is also hard to work out, considering Philostratus' ignorance of not only geography, but also alchemy, how Apollonius discussed whether there were four or five elements with the Masters in the East. Western Alchemy has four elements and eastern philosophies have five (as reflected today in Astrology and Chinese medicine). In order for Philostratus to have fabricated this incident he must have had some very reliable sources regarding esoteric topics from a range of geographic locations.
Curiously people with names very similar to Iarchas, Apollonius, King Phraotes and Damis (characters in Philostratus' book) are all mentioned in an article written in 1891 by the great Hindu saint Sadasiva Brahmendra. Christian Lindtner in his forward to the Agamasastra of Gaudapada points out that Iarchas could not have worshipped the feet of Gaudapada, because Gaudapada lived around 800 AD, whereas Iarchas lived in the first century. I was surprised then to contact a scholar who believed that he has a strong argument that Gaudapada really lived in the first century. It is hoped that Sadasiva's article can be translated and released soon.
Well enough of this argumentation! Apollonius is a delightful book, and all will love his wise and gentle nature. I would recommend Apollonius of Tyana by Flavius Philostratus to anyone who is so sure about their Bible history!
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