Apollonius of Tyana
by Dr. R. W. Bernard (1964)
Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia
Part 3: The Controversy Between Adherents of Apollonius and Jesus
In refutation of Hierocles' claims, Eusebius tried to show that Apollonius was a poor imitation of the Christian messiah. On the other hand, Hierocles, insofar as this can be gathered from Eusebius's refutation -- made the following statements:
This is practically all that Eusebius tells us about the contents of the work of Hierocles under the title of "Philalethes." Everything else, in the book, he asserts, has been urged by others and has been already replied to. The parallel between Apollonius and Christ is all that is new. Eusebius examines each of Philostratus' eight books in succession, pointing out the inconsistencies and incredibilities of the narrative. "I have no objection," he says, "to placing Apollonius as high as any one likes among philosophers. But when, under the cover of Pythagoreanism, Philostratus makes him go beyond the bounds of philosophy and makes him a saint, he is really made to be an ass in lion skin, a juggling quack instead of a philosopher. There are limits set to human powers which no man, like Apollonius, can transgress, but a higher being (Jesus) can condescend to the conditions of human nature."
In short, Eusebius mocks Apollonius's miracles as untrue and impossible and tries to point out the inconsistencies of the biography, concluding that if the miracles of Apollonius really took place they were performed by the aid of a demon.
"Lastly," says Eusebius; arriving at the culmination of his argument, "Philostratus, having thrown doubt on the place and manner of his departure from life, will have it that Apollonius went to heaven bodily, accompanied by an expected song of maiden voices."
Eusebius ends by saying that if any should think fit to place Apollonius among philosophers, he does not object; if only they will clear him of the false ornaments affixed to him by the writing under examination; the real effect of such additions being to culminate the man himself under the guise of raising him to divinity. In conclusion let us hear Eusebius's own words:
"Then he begins at the beginning and enumerates the wonders
worked by Apollonius, after which he continues in the following
words: `What then is my reason for mentioning these facts? It is
in order that you may be able to contrast our own accurate and
well-established judgment on each point with the easy credulity
of the Christians. For whereas we reckon him who wrought such
feats not a god, but only a man pleasing to the gods, they on
the strength of a few miracles proclaim their Jesus a god.'
"To this he adds after a little more the following remark: `And
this point is also worth noticing, that whereas the tales of
Jesus have been vamped up by Peter and Paul and a few others of
the kind -- men who were liars and devoid of education and
wizards -- the history of Apollonius was written by Maximus of
Aegae, and by Damis the philosopher, who lived constantly with
him, and by Philostratus of Athens, men of the highest
education, who out of respect for the truth and their love of
mankind, determined to give the publicity they deserved to the
actions of a man at once noble and a friend of the gods."
"I need not say with what admiring approval he [Hierocles]
attributes his [Apollonius] theumaturgic feats not to the tricks
of wizardry, but to a divine and mysterious wisdom; and he
believes they were truly what he supposes them to have been,
though he advances no proof of his contention. Listen then to
his very words: `In their anxiety to exalt Jesus, they run up
and down printing of how he made the blind to see and worked
certain other miracles of the kind.' Then after an interval he
adds as follows: `Let us note how much better and more sensible
is the view which we take of such matters, and explain the
conception which we entertain of men gifted with remarkable
powers.' And thereupon after passing headlessly by Aristeas,
continues thus: `But in the time of our own ancestors, during
the reign of Nero, there flourished Apollonius of Tyana who from
mere boyhood when he became the priest of Aegae of Cicilia, of
Ascalepius, the lover of mankind, worked any number of miracles,
of which I will omit the greater number and only mention a few.'
"Then he begins at the beginning and enumerates the wonders worked by Apollonius, after which he continues in the following words: `What then is my reason for mentioning these facts? It is in order that you may be able to contrast our own accurate and well-established judgment on each point with the easy credulity of the Christians. For whereas we reckon him who wrought such feats not a god, but only a man pleasing to the gods, they on the strength of a few miracles proclaim their Jesus a god.'
"To this he adds after a little more the following remark: `And this point is also worth noticing, that whereas the tales of Jesus have been vamped up by Peter and Paul and a few others of the kind -- men who were liars and devoid of education and wizards -- the history of Apollonius was written by Maximus of Aegae, and by Damis the philosopher, who lived constantly with him, and by Philostratus of Athens, men of the highest education, who out of respect for the truth and their love of mankind, determined to give the publicity they deserved to the actions of a man at once noble and a friend of the gods."
These are the very words used by Hierocles in his treatise against us which he has entitled "Lover of Truth."*
Hierocles was further answered by Lactantius; and it soon became necessary for every Catholic saint or doctor of the fourth and fifth centuries to have an opinion about Apollonius of Tyana. Eusebius admitted, however, that Apollonius was a great philosopher; and Lactantius and Arnobius, while not denying his miracles, attribute them to "magic." St. Jerome also regarded him as a magician. In a work written after the death of Philostratus by an unknown writer, which was formerly attributed to Justin Martyr, the miracles of Apollonius were further ascribed to magic.
St. Augustine, in arguing with the heathen, paid Apollonius a rather mild compliment by allowing that he was "purer than Jove." The learned Bishop Sidonius Apollonaris praised the Greek philosopher and translated his life into Latin. On the other hand, St. John Chrysostom branded the work of Philostratus as false and Apollonius as a "deceiver;" and his view gradually became the general one of Christian writers. The Church Father, Isidorus of Pelusium, who died in 450 A.D. bluntly denied that there was any truth in the assertion that Apollonius "consecrated many spots in the world for the safety of the inhabitants."
Among the ancient writers who make mention of Apollonius is Origen, who refers to the memoirs of Maeragenes; who speaks of him as a philosopher and magician. Later, Ammianus Marcellinus, the last subject of Rome who composed a profane history in the Latin language, and the friend of Julian the Philosopher, Emperor, refers to Apollonius as "that most renowned philosopher." and thought that, "like Pythagoras and Socrates, he was a privileged mortal who lived assisted by a familiar genius." A few years later, Eunapius, the pupil of Chrysanius, one of the teachers of Julian, writing in the last years of the fourth century says that, "Apollonius was more than a philosopher; he was a middle term, as it were, between gods and men."
Eunapius states furthermore that Apollonius was not only an adherent of the Pythagorean philosophy, but "he fully exemplified the more divine and practical side of it." He believes that Philostratus should have called his biography "The Sojourning of a God Among Men."
Even in the sixth century, after the downfall of philosophy with the rise of the Church, we find Cassiodorus, who spent the last years of his life in a monastery, speaking of Apollonius as the "renowned philosopher." In the eighth century, among the Byzantine writers, we find the monk, George Syncellus, referring to him as "the most remarkable of all the illustrious people who appeared under the Roman Empire." At about the same time, Tzetzos, a critic and grammarian, called Apollonius "all-wise and fore-knower of all things."
Towards the end of the middle ages, the cult of Apollonius still survived in the east, though forgotten in the west, as indicated by the Statement of Nicetus concerning the melting-down of certain bronze doors at Byzantium, which were said to have been inscribed with the "Book of Rites," one of the lost works of Apollonius. This was done to put an end to non-christian beliefs and usages which had gathered around them.
In the eleventh century, opinion [regarding Apollonius of Tyana] was divided; and while on the other hand, we find the monk Xiphillinus, in a note to his abridgement of the history of Dion Cassius, calls Apollonius "a clever juggler and magician," Cidrenus in the same century bestows on Apollonius the not uncomplimentary title of "an adept with efficacy of his power over the elements" in Byzantium.
Even as late as 1832, Bauer attempted to show that not only were there resemblances between the "Life of Apollonius of Tyana" and the Gospels, but that Philostratus deliberately modeled his hero on the type set forth by the Evangelists. He was followed in this view by Zeller, the celebrated Greek historian.
Typical of latter nineteenth century views on the subject is that of Cardinal Newman, a Catholic apologist, who, admitting the identity of Apollonius and the Gospel messiah, considers the former an imitation of the latter, in spite of the fact that he preceded him by three centuries (For the Jesus of the Gospels was evidently born in the year 325 A.D., at the Council of Nicea, rather than when the star appeared over Bethlehem).
To support his view, Newman mentions certain typical examples, such as Apollonius's bringing to life a dead girl in Rome, which he considers as "an attempt, and an elaborate, pretentious attempt, to outdo certain narratives in the Gospels (Mark v. 29, Luke vii. John xi: 41-43, Acts iii: 4-6). This incident, is described by Philostratus.
Presenting further evidence that Philostratus's biography of Apollonius is in many ways a replica of the life of Jesus, Cardinal Newman writes: The favour in which Apollonius from a child was held by gods and men; his conversations when a youth in the Temple of Aesculapius; his determination, in spite of danger to go up to Rome; the cowardice of his disciples in deserting him; the charge brought against him of disaffection to Caesar; the Minister's acknowledging, on his private examination, that he was more than man; the ignominious treatment of him by Domitian on his second appearance at Rome; his imprisonment with criminals; his vanishing from Court and sudden reappearance to his mourning disciples at Puteoli--these, with other particulars of a similar cast, evidence a history modelled after the narrative of the Evangelists. Expressions, moreover, and descriptions occur, clearly imitated "from the sacred volume."
Reville, another Catholic apologist, thinks as does Newman that "the biography of Apollonius is in great measure an imitation of the Gospel narrative.'* (*Reville bases his argument on the similarity of the characters of Apollonius and Pythagoras (which is natural in view of Apollonius following Pythagoras as his example); and he seeks to prove that Apollonius, rather than Jesus, is a fictitious creation, rather than an historical character. Reville writes: "It is hard to say whether the Pythagoras of the Alexandrians is not an Apollonius of an earlier date by some centuries, or whether the Apollonius of Julia Domna, besides his resemblance to Christ, is not a Pythagoras endowed with a second youth. The real truth of the matter will probably be found to lie between the two suggestions."
Godfrey Higgins considers Christ as an imitation of Pythagoras, who likewise started life immaculately and was killed by his enemies while seeking to serve mankind. The truth is that both Pythagoras and Apollonius were historical while Jesus is mythical.) This would imply that Philostratus's "Apollonius" had no real existence and was modeled on the life of Jesus.
In refutation of that claim, that Apollonius had no historical existence and is an imitation of Jesus, is the existence of a "Lease from the Estate of Apollonius," which is among the Zenon papyri acquired by Columbia University in 1926. It is a Greek manuscript written on parchment which refers to a gift of cultivated land bestowed by King Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy Soter, to Apollonius of Tyana; which was signed by Damis. The land produced barley and wheat, which yielded its owners a regular income.
The lease was a legal document which stipulated the revenue that Apollonius was to receive from the crops which the land produced, and to it the names of a number of witness were affixed. In view of such clear evidence of the historical existence of Apollonius, in sharp contract with the lack of such evidence concerning the Christian Son of God, the question as to whether Apollonius or Jesus - in the historical original of which the other is an imitation - finds the ready solution in the mind of every unbiased person.
Apollonius spoke in parables just as Jesus did. Concerning this point, Roberts, in his "Antiquity Unveiled," writes: "If the identity of style and sentiment is possible then the learned Apollonius was the original author of the teachings attributed to Jesus Christ; an identity that all the altering, eliminating and interpolating by the Christian hierarchy have not been able to destroy or even imperfectly conceal."
This similarity in the expressions of the two men made Cudworth, a Christian apologist, in his "Intellectual System," write: "It is highly improbable, if not unquestionable, that Apollonius of Tyana shortly after the publication of the gospel to the world, was a person made choice of by the policy and assisted by the powers of the kingdom of darkness, for doing something extraordinary, merely out of design to derogate from the miracles of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and to enable paganism the better to bear up against the attacks of Christianity."
Huet another apologist, says further on the same subject, "He (Philostratus) aimed and thinks it to have been his principal design to obstruct the progress of the Christian religion by drawing the character of a man of great knowledge, sanctity and miraculous power. Therefore he forced Apollonius after the example of Christ and accommodated many things in the history of our Lord to Apollonius.
Thus the learned and pious Christian, Huet, was forced to admit the common identity of Apollonius and Jesus -- the first described by Philostratus according to the memoirs of Damis, written in the first century, and the other described by no one knows whom or when, but certainly not until several centuries later.*
As Christian writers have been forced to admit the identity of the respective narratives, concerning Apollonius and Jesus, the only question to be settled is, who was the original author of the so-called Christian teachings? There is sufficient evidence available to prove that Apollonius of Tyana was that author, and NOT Jesus of Nazareth nor Paul of Tarsus, as is wrongly claimed by Christian writers.
Now, there was another important reason for the suppression of Philostratus's book, besides the fact that it presented a dangerous rival to the Christian messiah. This was the fact that, though based on the notes of a contemporary of Jesus, and describing his travels from one end of the then known world to the other, throughout the work there is not a single mention of the existence of Jesus or Christianity, indicating that neither Damis, who wrote the original notes in the early part of the first century, or Philostratus, who compiled the notes two centuries later, were aware that either existed. Philostratus's biography was written about a century prior to the formation of the Church at the beginning of the fourth century, prior to the formation of the church (325 A.D.) and Catholics have taken special pains to destroy all books written at this time, lest the fact become known that none of them make mention of Jesus or of Christianity.
It was to destroy such books that the Alexandrian and other ancient libraries were burnt following the formation of the Church at the beginning of the fourth century prior to which Christianity (as we know and understand it) did not exist and Jesus was unknown.
The argument that there is almost complete silence in Philostratus's biography concerning the existence of Jesus and his disciples has been the one most frequently advanced by Catholics to each other, in order that there be maintained great vigilance in the suppression of this book. In such discussions, this was what was said: "There is most complete silence as regards to Jesus and his disciples. They are never mentioned; the existence of the Christian Church is ignored; and yet the book contains attacks on all kinds of religious and moral errors; hence, it is argued, any similarity which may exist between the life of Christ and that of the pagan reformer is either accidental, or formed." On this subject, Tredwell remarks that Christian writers "declare that Philostratus wrote up a character in imitation of Christ, and in opposition to the Christian religion, when the best evidence in the world exists (his entire silence) that he never heard of Christ or Christians. However, if Philostratus did create a character in imitation of Christ, how much more worthy of our imitation in practice and precept is the counterfeit!"
Had there been such persons living as Jesus Christ, his apostles and their Christian followers during the time that Apollonius lived and labored throughout the then civilized world, Damis, who accompanied him during much of that time, and who recorded every thing worthy of special note, would have made some mention of such people, either favorably on unfavorably. That he did not do so is, of itself, sufficient proof that neither Jesus Christ, his apostles nor the Christian religion had any existence either before or during that period, which was the only time in which they could have lived, if they really did.
Dr. Lardner, in his "Credibility of the Gospel Story," therefore writes: "It is manifest, therefore, that Philostratus compared Apollonius and Pythagoras; but I do not see that he endeavored to make him a rival of Jesus Christ. Philostratus had never once mentioned our Saviour, or the Christians, his followers; neither in this long work, nor in the `Lives of the Sophists;' if this be his as some learned men of the best judgment suppose, is there any hint that Apollonius anywhere in his wide travels, met with any followers of Jesus? There is not so much as an obscure or general description of any men met with by him, whom any can suspect to be Christians of any denomination, either Catholics or heretics. Whereas I think if Philostratus had written with a mind adverse to Jesus, he would have laid hold of some occasion to describe and disparage his followers, as enemies of the gods, and condemners of the mysteries and different from all other men."
Nevertheless it was this very absence of mention of Jesus and the Christians in Philostratus's book which was considered by the Catholic Church as sufficient reason to prohibit its publication for over a thousand years, lest it be suspected that no Christians existed at the time when the book was written and that Jesus never lived.
Dr. Lardner observes that just as there was no mention of Jesus or Christianity by Philostratus, so we find a similar silence about Apollonius in the works of early Christian writers, though they mention philosophers of much less renown, as Justin, Tatian, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian , etc. Of all these we have some remains; they lived in the first two centuries and the beginning of the third. This silence on the part of these authors regarding Apollonius can be accounted for on the basis of only one theory - that it was necessary to utterly ignore Apollonius and his philosophical and religious teachings in order that the Christian religion might gain a foothold and usurp the field he had grandly occupied.
Besides, the fragmentary remains of the works of the first three centuries that have reached us, have had to pass through the hands of Eusebius, Pope Sylvester I, and their coadjutors and successors, who, from the beginning of the fourth century downward to the time when the art of printing ended it, were so assiduously engaged in interpolating, mutilating and destroying every trace of evidence within their reach that showed the real origin and nature of the Christian religion and its true founder. It should have struck the attention of Dr. Lardner, with vastly greater force, that just as in Philostratus's lengthy biography of Apollonius there is no mention of Jesus, so in the entire New Testament there is not a single mention of Apollonius, if we except in a few verses of lst Corinthians, where it says, "for while one saith, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? Who, then, is Paul, and who Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." [First Corinthians, Chapter 3, Verses 3-6; King James Version].
In a very ancient manuscript of this Epistle, found in a monastery in France by a Huegenot soldier, called the CODEX BEZAE, the name is spelled not Apollos but APOLLONIUS. As has already been indicated, the Encyclopedia Britannica admits that the name, Apollos, as it appears in the Pauline Epistles, is an abbreviation of Apollonius.**
It is an old saying that liars should have good memories. This was never more apparent than in the oversight of not eliminating that telltale confession from the lst Epistle to the Corinthians. [King James Version]. There it stands and there it will stand, thanks to the art of printing to confound those Christian enemies of truth and make clear the fraud they are upholding.
Reversing the true state of affairs, involving as it did the replacement of Apollonius by Jesus in the beginning of the fourth century A.D., Dr. Johannese Hempel writes: "In the fourth century we observe the replacement by the heathens of Jesus by a man who was put in his place. First Celsus and Porphyry, and later Hierocles put Apollonius in place of Christ and opposed the new religion.
Reversing the true state of affairs, involving as it did the replacement of Apollonius by Jesus in the beginning of the fourth century A.D., Dr. Johannese Hempel writes: "In the fourth century we observe the replacement by the heathens of Jesus by a man who was put in his place. First Celsus and Porphyry, and later Hierocles put Apollonius in place of Christ and opposed the NEW religion."
Concerning the identity of Apollonius and Paul ["Pol", an abbreviation of Apollonius), not only were they both in Tarsus at the same time as boys, but, as Newman points out, Apollonius was at Ephesus and Rome at EXACTLY the same time that Paul was (yet, strangely, Apollonius's biographer makes no mention of him, though Paul's biographer speaks of "Apollos" having been at Ephesus with him). Also it is significant that "Paul" is a fictitious name. There is more reason to identify the character of Apollonius with Paul than "Saul," who led a dissipated life, while Apollonius - even in youth, lived chastely.
Concerning the identity of Apollonius, with Paul, Reville writes: "Apollonius is not only like Jesus Christ, but he combines in his own person many of the characteristics of the Apostles. Like Paul he travels up and down the world from east to west, and like him, too, he is the victim of Nero's jealousy. Like John, according to a tradition which prevailed even in his time, he is persecuted by Domitian." And there is reason to believe that he was also the author of the Apocalypse (St. John the Revelator).
The replacement of the vegetarian and pacifistic doctrine of Apollonius, who taught harmlessness to all living beings, animal as well as human (as was previously taught by gotama Buddha), by the non-vegetarian and non-pacifistic religion of Jesus and his bride, the Church Militant, has plunged the world into centuries of unceasing wars and bloodshed, which have continued to increase with the growth of Christianity. On this point, Tredwell writes; "Think not that I come to send peace on earth," said Jesus. "I come not to send peace but a sword....
Never did a man utter words so brimful of truth -- melancholy as it is. Never was a prediction whose disastrous fulfillment has unfortunately lasted without intermission from time time of its promulgation to the present. From the very establishment of the religion of Jesus, the sword has remained unsheathed in its service, and more victims have been sacrificed to its manes than to all other causes combined. Lest he should be misunuderstood concerning his mission Jesus reiterates that he came to send fire on earth, and strife to make divided households, fathers against sons, mothers against daughters, and that under the new regime, "a man's foes shall be those of his own household! Bolingbroke says, "The scene of Christianity has always been a scene of dissension, of hatred, of persecution and of blood." Erasmus said the church was born in blood; grew in blood; succeeded in blood, and will end in blood."
Tredwell pointed out that Christianity forced its way forward by mass executions and at the point of the sword. It was in this way that the "Church Militant" was born and was enabled to develop as a world power. Born in bloodshed (the brutal murder of Hypatia by Christian "monks" soon after the Council of Nicea, by order of Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, who was subsequently "sainted," and the ensuing massacres of the Manicheans), it grew by bloodshed (the deaths of tens of millions of true followers of Christ, who refused to accept the false hypocritical teachings of the church, over three million women having been put to death in Europe only a few centuries ago as witches), it shall die in bloodshed (the aftermath of the recent world carnage which is fruit of sixteen centuries of false Christian teachings of peace, carried on with an olive branch in one hand and a sword in the other).
All this resulted from the fraudulent replacement of the original religion of Apollonius by the "new" religion of the Church of Rome which took place at the Council of Nicea in the year 325 B.C.*
Since this date humanity has been led astray. It is the purpose of this book to correct this historic error and to bring humanity back to the truth, so that, purged by the recent suffering, mankind once more will return to the true scientific path of natural, healthful and humane living taught by the great Pythagorean philosopher, Apollonius of Tyana, nearly two thousand years ago.