Before entering upon this all absorbing subject, it is simply proper by way of explanation to inform the reader that previous to the date given below, Mr. Roberts had been having regular weekly sittings with the medium through whom these communications were received, but in reference to the sitting on May 2oth, 1881, Mr. Roberts records in his notes the following:
Having been informed who would next manifest through the medium, the time having arrived, I felt a thrill of astonishment and delight of the greatest intensity, and the very air of the humble apartment in which we sat seemed filled with a mighty spiritual power, as the name of Apollonius of Tyana was announced, and we were greeted for the first time by the great Cappadocian sage and philosopher, as well as the greatest teacher and benefactor that ever drew to himself the love, admiration and reverence of the civilized world,- Apollonius, the Spirit Anointed Christ of the Orient.” His communication was as follows:
” Let our salutation be, the survival of truth and its conquest of Superstition. I was born, according to the Christian calendar, on the 16th day of February, A. D. 2, of wealthy parents; was educated, until my 26th year, in general philosophy and literature, when I served for six years under Euxenes, of Heracleia, learning the Pythagorean philosophy. After acquiring all I could learn from the teachings of that philosopher, I went to Antioch, and from there to Jerusalem.
On account of some wonderful physical manifestations of spirit power taking place through my then young mediumship, which persons living in Jerusalem had heard of, my entrance to that city was hailed, as it has been alleged the entrance of Jesus of Nazareth was hailed, with hosannas and songs of praise to one who came in the name of the Lord.
And now, mark particularly what I say; this took place when I was thirty-three years of age. I want you to pay the closest attention to what I shall here set forth. You will, by examining Josephus’s work, “War of the Jews“, see, that concerning the siege of Jerusalem a certain prophecy was given, or words were spoken, as is alleged, by Jesus of Nazareth, which were fulfilled. You will find what I refer to, in Matthew, 23d chapter and 3oth verse, where the so-called Jesus is made to have asserted that that generation were guilty of all the blood that had been shed from Abel to Zachariias, the son of Baroch, slain between the temple and the altar exactly thirty-four years after the alleged death of Jesus. And you will find this prophecy then fulfilled, while Jesus is made to have said that it was fulfilled in his time; and here you have an example of the inauthenticity of the Christian Gospels.
All this I learned at the very time at which Flavius Josephus wrote the history of the “War of the Jews“, for I was employed and used by the Emperor Vespasian as his oracle, when in the same state as this medium is, who now sits before you.
” Never, during my mortal life, did I desire to be worshipped after death – never did I, as a mortal man, teach such a doctrine. But I was deified after my death. Nine epistles were made a present to me by Phraotes of Taxila, India, or rather between Babylon and India, who was a satrap, in those days.
Those epistles contained all that is embraced in the present epistles claimed to have been written by St. Paul. And from what I have learned, as a spirit, I conclude that I am both the Jesus and St. Paul of the Christian scriptures. Flattering enough to my vanity, but the ruin of my happiness. It is my duty, here, to confess all I can bring to recollection, in order that spiritual darkness may disperse and the light of truth shine in.
There is one thing that I desire particularly to speak of, and that is the ultimate of spirit power on earth. All Materialists claim that it is impossible to restore that which is dead to life. Upon this point, upon my own knowledge, I assert that if you have developed your mortal body to that extent, not into what is called moral purity, but into a holy, trusting love, with a heart that beats for humanity, if such a person can come in contact with a fresh, young body from which the spirit has been driven out before it could accomplish its mission, take that body by the hand, and with mighty will arrest that spirit, he can force it back to the body it once inhabited and make it fulfill its mission.
Three things are necessary to do this – first, a perfectly healthy organism. That does not imply a strong, powerful one – it means an organism in which the spirit is greater than the body, the excess of spirit producing this result. [Here the controlling spirit caused the form of the medium to rise, and extending his arms at full length to the right and left said :] The spirit addressing you is not confined to the limits of the form you see before you. It not only fills the physical organism you see, but extends far around it as well.
In the time when I lived in the mortal form the old was dying out and the new being born. By this I mean that superstition, gods and all such ideas were on the wane, and man was seeking, as he is today, for something more practical and beneficial. It was not through any qualities that I possessed different from, or superior to, those of any other man, that I accomplished what I did, but through the spiritual power within and with me. This fact I want to have especially marked.
The highest sensitive mortals living in any age or generation, and who are living the nearest in accord with nature’s divine law of truth, will bring forth a child who may be the so-called Saviour of that generation. Those men and women who utter the highest and most beneficial truths to their fellow-mortals are the Saviour of their time.
Further, I have this to say, I retired voluntarily, for I was neither ostracised nor banished for anything I had done, said or written, to the same island to which, as is alleged, the St. John of Revelations went, in the years 69 and 70 A. D. I there wrote what occurred through me in a trance state, not knowing what I wrote, an almost identical story with that attributed to the so-called St. John the Revelator. That story was nothing more than an attempt of the spirit world to give the truth of the spirit life, through a mortal organism, in a day and generation that was not ripe to receive it. That is, the medium chosen for the expression of the teachings of spirits was too much imbued with the mysticism of Judea and neighboring countries to be well suited for that purpose.
What is known to you moderns as the anti-Nicene Library, contained documents, some of which are still existent, that fully warrant you in challenging the translators of today as to the correctness of their production. Let them examine, if they dare, the manuscripts referred to and they will find what is now being published erroneous in many particulars. They have followed too much what their ancestors translated, without having translated for themselves.
Now and here, I declare that the Christian Gospels were all preached by me – preached at Jerusalem – preached at Ephesus – preached at Athens – preached at Philippi—preached at Home – preached at Antioch – preached at Alexandria – preached at Babylon. In all those countries I preached, and by manipulations, and certain qualities developed in me, I healed the sick, restored the sight of the blind, and, in the way herein set forth, even raised the dead.
I will try to make this raising of the dead plainer. If a child, a youth, or a maiden, whose body is fresh, full of vigor and perfection, and whose spirit has become detached from it, in that case I hold that one whose power is great and whose will is indomitable, while that body is yet warm, can cause the spirit to return and continue to inhabit that organism. In this way I know the dead can be restored to life. When I lived on earth all the philosophers who taught men to expect redemption, according to more ancient authorities, taught that such redemption was to happen at that time.
From what I have been able to learn as a spirit, I was the person who was designed by spirits to fulfil that mission. I claim no pre-eminence over any one. I only say that my mortal body contained more spirit than the average of men, or even the most highly developed among them, at the time I existed in mortal flesh.
My history, as it has come down to you moderns, written by one Damis (Timotheus, the devote companion of St. Paul in the New Testament), and by others afterwards, in regard to the main incidents of my life, is correct, but in regard to the glamour, romance and mystery of the narrative, it has no relation to me whatever. The latter was the work of my disciples and followers after my death, and was promulgated by them.
One thing more and I am through with my communication. It is this. Almost every picture that in modern times is recognized as the likeness of Jesus, is the identical portrait of Apollonius of Tyana, painted in the reign of Vespasian. That emperor consulted me. I was the oracle in his camp. I was the means of saving the life of Flavius .losephus.”
We here asked him how it came that .losephus had made no mention of that fact in his “Jewish War”? He replied:
“The Jewish hierarchy of that day had a horror and dislike of even their best friends who were not of their faith, and .Josephus being a Pharisee of the straightest sect was even more than usually prejudiced against a Gentile like myself. By this I do not mean that the Pharisees were bad people, but that they were so devoted to their religion as to lie bitterly bigoted and prejudiced against those who differed from them.
It is my opinion, from all I can learn as a spirit, that all the Christian Gospels are borrowed from, and in fact that their origin was, the Books that I brought from India, obtained in part from Phraotes, wlio was King of Taxila. I think those books were used by tlie Platonists, Eclectics and Gnostics of Alexandria (such as Ammonius Sacca, Origenes and Plotinus) about one hundred and fifty years after.
I died in the year A. D. 99, at Ephesus, and was 97 or 98 years of age, although some have enlarged the period of my earthly life to 150 years. The originals of the four gospels I obtained through one Hiram Emiandi, of Taxila, who took me forward into Farther India. They were written in characters not unlike those used by the Chinese, on thin, tough paper.
They treated of the four stages of the life of Buddha. The first to his incarnation and birth, the second to his childhood and youth, the third to his mature life, and the fourth to his old age and death. These books I obtained at Singapore, at the extreme point of India, on the strait between India and Sumatra.”
We here mentioned to him the fact that one week before we had received a communication from a spirit purporting to be Ulphilas, the Christian bishop of the Goths (who lived at that time in Bulgaria), who said he had translated from Samaritan manuscripts the epistles and gospels to which he, Apollonius, had referred into the Gothic tongue; and that the manuscripts that he translated were the writings of himself, after the originals he obtained at Singapore, India. To which he replied:
” One Hegesippus made copies from my translations and modified versions of the originals in the Samaritan tongue and Ulphilas copied from the manuscripts of Hegesippus. I wrote in the Hebraic-Samaritan tongue, which was the language of my country.”
Here the control of the medium became wholly exhausted. Bidding us a hasty and most benign adieu, he left the medium more exhausted than we had ever seen him at any previous sitting. No other control of the medium was possible, and thus ended a spirit interview, which is destined to mark an era in human progress never transcended, if ever equalled, in importance and interest to all classes of the human race.
Comments by Jonathan Roberts on the Historical Personality of Apollonius of Tyana
We publish such facts, as are conceded by ample authority, to be historically established concerning Apollonius. There is much that it would be desirable to add as the result of our own researches, but we will confine ourself mainly to the current history of his life and labors. As the best condensed sketch of the life of Apollonius that we have been able to find, we have chosen that of the ” Penny Cyclopedia,” London, 1834:
“We feel that we may safely assume as true and proven, the following historical statements concerning Apollonius. He was born of wealthy parents at Tyana in Cappadocia, at the very period when it is alleged the Christian’s Jesus was born at Bethlehem. At the age of twelve years he was sent to Tarsus in Cilicia, the alleged birthplace and home of St. Paul. Not liking the frivolous habits of the people of that city, with his father’s consent, he retired to Aegea, a town a short distance from Tarsus, where he remained until after attaining to man’s estate.
There he studied every system of philosophy, and perfected himself in rhetoric and general literature. There he took up his residence in the temple of Aesculapius, so famed for its miraculous cures, was initiated by the priests of that temple in their mysteries, and performed cures that astonished not only the people, but even those masters of the art of healing. He there finally decided to adopt the philosophy of Pythagoras, and vigorously observed the trying discipline instituted by the Samian sage. He performed the terrible task of five years silence, which he endured cheerfully and without a murmur of complaint. He abstained from animal food, wine and women – lived upon fruits and herbs – dressed only in linen garments of the plainest construction – went barefooted and with uncovered head – and wore his hair and beard uncut.
He was especially distinguished for his beauty, his genial bearing, his uniform love and kindness, and his imperturbable equanimity of temper. In these respects he was the personal embodiment of the imaginary traits of the Christian Jesus, and was no doubt the original of the pictures of the so-called Nazarene, now so venerated by uninformed professors of the Christian religion.
Determined to devote himself to the pursuit of knowledge and the teaching of philosophy, he gave away his large patrimony to his poor relatives and went to Antioch, then a centre of learning, but little less noted than Athens or Alexandria. There he began his great mission by teaching philosophy to a number of disciples and to the people. He entered the temple of Apollo Daphne, at Antioch, and learned the mysteries of its priesthood. Philostratus, his autobiographer, describes the style of speaking adopted by Apollonius, thus:
“Apollonius used a stile of speaking not elevated, nor swollen in the language of poetry, nor yet one too refined, nor too Attic; for whatever exceeded the Attic mediocrity was considered by him dissonant and unpleasant. He made use of no fastidious nicety in the division of his discourses, nor any fine spun sentences; nor was he known to adopt an ironical manner, nor any kind of apostrophising with his hearers. He spoke as it were from a tripod, to wit: “I know”, and “It seems to me,” and “To what purpose is this? ” and, ‘”You must know”. His sentences were short and adamant – his words authoritative and adapted to the sense, and the bare utterance of them conveyed a sound as if they were sanctioned by the sceptre of royalty.
Being asked once by a subtle disputant why he did not propose what side of a question lie should take in argument? he replied: “When I was a young man, I used to follow that practice, but that is no longer necessary as it is now become my duty not to investigate, but to teach the result of my investigations.” When he was asked, by the same logician, how a wise man should speak, he said as a legislator, for it was the part of a legislator to command the multitude to do, wliat he himself was convinced ought to be done. In this way he conducted himself at Antioch, and converted many who were strangers to his knowledge.”
Now, when it is remembered that this description of the style in which Apollonius spoke, was written by Damis, the friend, pupil and companion of the Cappadocian sage (He later appears as Timotheus in the forged St. Paul’s epistles), long before Jesus Christ or the Christian scriptures were heard or thought of; is it not remarkably evident that the original author of those scriptures was Apollonius himself. If identity of style and sentiment is possible, then was the learned Apollonius 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 nor even imperfectly conceal. Quoting Cudworth, Dr. Lardner, in ” The Credibility of the Gospel History,” says :
“Cudworth, in his “Intellectual System,” says: It is a thing highly probable, if not unquestionable, that Apollonius Tyanaeus, 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 some things extraordinary, merely out of design to derogate from tlie miracles of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and to enable paganism the better to bear up against the attacks of Christianity.”
So Cudworth, and I suppose that many learned men of late times, may have expressed themselves in a like manner; but I cannot assent to them. He further cites Huet, as follows:
“He [Philostratus] aimed,” says Huet, “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 formed Apollonius after the example of Christ, and accommodated many things in the history of our Lord to Apollonius.”
Thus we see that the very 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, made in the first century; and the latter described by no one knows whom or when, but certainly not earlier than the beginning of the third century of the so-called Christian era, as now contained in what is called the “New Testament”. As Christian writers have been forced to admit the identity of the respective narratives, concerning Apollonius and Jesus, the only question that remains to be settled is, which was the original author of the so-called Christian teachings?
If this has not already been fully done, there remains very little yet to be done to complete the demonstration that Apollonius of Tyana was that author, and not Jesus of Nazareth, nor Paul of Tarsus, as is wrongly claimed by Christian writers. After stating many reasons for his conclusions. Dr. Lardner, than whom there is no higher Christian authority, says:
” It is manifest, therefore, that Philostratus compared Apollonius and Pythagoras; that I do not see that he endeavored to make him a rival with Jesus Christ. Philostratus has never once mentioned our Saviour, or the Christians his followers, neither in this long work, nor in the ” Lives of the Sophists”, if it be his, as some learned men of the best judgment suppose; nor 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 to the gods, and condemners of the mysteries and solemnities, and different from all other men.”
Let it be remembered that Philostratus lived and wrote his life of Apollonius in the reign of Septimus Severus, about the beginning of the third century A. D. At that time there could not possibility have been in existence any of the .scripture narratives of the life of Jesus Christ, so nearly analogous to the incidents and events which he related concerning Apollonius. Had there been such persons living, as Jesus Christ and his apostles, and their Christian followers, during the time that Apollonius lived and labored throughout the then civilized world, Damis (Timotheus), who accompanied him during much of that time, and who recorded every thing worthy of especial note, would have made some mention of such people, either favorably or unfavorably.
That he did not do so, is of itself sufficient proof that neither Jesus Christ, his apostles nor the Christian religion, had an existence either before or during that period, which was the only time in which they could have had a real existence. At all events, nothing can be more certain than the conclusion of Dr. Lardner, that Philostratus did not write the life of Apollonius to disparage the Christian religion.
But Dr. Lardner is not content to make that fatal acknowledgment of the Christian plagiarism of the life and labors of Apollonius; but makes an equally fatal acknowledgment in another direction. In disagreeing with Cudworth, Huet and others, as to the life of Apollonius, by Philostratus, having been written to oppose Christianity, Dr. Lardner says :
“With due submission I do not think that Apollonius was a man of so great importance, as is here supposed; for it does not appear, that any adversaries of the Christians, either Celsus or Porphyry (both of them are mentioned in my book “Neoplatonism and Christianty), or any other before Hierocles, at the beginning of the fourth century, under Diocletian’s persecution, ever took any notice of him in any of their arguments. Nor do I know that he has been once mentioned by any Christian writers of the first two centuries. When I first met with the observation of Cudworth [herein before given] I was very much surprised, considering the silence of all early antiquity.
If this observation were right, I should have expected to find frequent mention of Apollonius in the history of St. John, and the other apostles of Christ; but there is none. We had in that space of time diverse learned men, some of them as eminent for extensive literature as any men that ever lived; as Justin, Tatian, Bardesanes the Syrian, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, Tertullian, Minucius Felix; not to insist on Clement of Rome, Ignatius, or Polycarp, or the histories of them. Of all these we have some remains; they lived in the first two centuries or the beginning of the third; but of Apollonius they have not taken the least notice.”
Very true. Dr. Lardner, and why did they not do so? That total silence on the part of those authors of the first and second centuries regarding so eminent a philosopher and teacher as was Apollonius of Tyana, can be accounted for upon but one theory, and that will show that it was a necessity to utterly ignore Apollonius and his philosophical and religious teachings, in order that the Christian religion could gain a foothold to usurp the field he had so grandly occupied. Of all the authors named by Dr. Larduer, the complete works of none of them have come down to us.
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.
It should have struck the attention of Dr. Lardner, with vastly greater force, that no where in the books of the New Testament is there a single mention made of Apollonius, if we except in a few verses of 1st Corinthians, where it says. “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, 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.”
In a very ancient manuscript of this Epistle found in a monastery of France by a Huguenot soldier, called the Codex Beza, the name is not Apollos, but Apollonius. But even this positive clue to the identity of Apollonius with the St. Paul of the Christians was attempted to be obliterated by substituting Apollos for Apollonius, as it originally stood.
This studied avoidance of all mention of Apollonius in the Christian Scriptures, is positive proof that his recognition, in any way whatever, by the authors of Christianity would be fatal to their scheme of deception and fraud. We wonder they had not had the cunning to elaborate that one reference to the preaching and teaching of Apollonius, and the admission that his teaching was in perfect accord with the teachings attributed to St. Paul.
It is an old saying that liars should have good memories. This was never more apparent than in the oversight of not eliminating that tell-tale confession from the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians. There it stands, and there it will stand, thanks to the art of printing, to confound these Christian enemies of truth, and make clear the fraud they are upholding. Dr. Larduer farther says:
” The first Christian writer who has mentioned him” (Apollonius), so far as I can recollect, is Origen (I have dedicated half of my book “Neoplatonism and Christianity” to this great neoplatonic scholar from Alexandria, 3rd century), considered to be the founder of Christian theology, but excommunicated by them and murdered by wild Christians) in his books against Celsus, written not long before the middle of the third century (also discussed by myself), When he says:
“He who would know whether magic has any power over philosophers, may read the memoirs of Moeragenes, concerning Apollonius of Tyana, both a magician and a philosopher. In which Moeragenes, who was not a Christian, but a philosopher, says, that some, and no inconsiderable philosophers were taken by the magical art of Apollonius and came to him as a magician. Among them I suppose he means Euphrates, and a certain Epicurean. But we can affirm upon the ground of our own experience, that they who worship the God over all through Jesus Christ, and live according to the Gospel, and pray as they ought to do day and night, have no reason to fear anything from magic”.
So Origen is led to speak in answer to some things in Celsus; but it does not appear that Celsus had at all mentioned either Apollonius, or his historian. Apollonius is mentioned by Lucian, but what he says of him is far from being to his advantage. He is also mentioned by Apuleius who was contemporary with Lucian; nor is there any other older author now existent where he is mentioned; which must be reckoned an argument of his great obscurity, till he was set up by Philostratus. After that time Apollonius is taken notice of by many; as Arnobius and Lactantius, and Eusebius, who were led to observe upon Hierocles, whose whole book against the Christians was founded on the memoirs of Philostratus.
He is afterwards mentioned by Augustin and other Christian writers; and he is mentioned several times by the writers of the Augustin History, who flourished in the time of Diocletian, or soon afterwards, and by Dion Cassius, and by Eunapius, who commends the history of Philostratus, but says, that instead of entitling it the “Life of Apollonius”, he might have called it the “Peregrination of a God among Men “.
Now it must not be forgotten that the writings of Celsus were lost or destroyed long since; nothing being known of what they were, except as Origen has reported them. Whether Celsus did, or did not, mention Apollonius, is a matter of no consequence. Celsus did not write until nearly a century after the death of Apollonius, and may never have met with the memoirs of Damis or Moeragenes concerning Apollonius. That Lucian and Apuleius, who wrote while Apollonius still lived or soon after his death, should have mentioned him is sufficient to establish his historical existence. Philostratus had not then come into possession of the memoirs of Damis, Moeragenes and Maximus of Aegis, and the history of the life and labors of Apollonius, had been suppressed, no doubt by the influence of the priesthoods of Greece and Rome.
The desire of the cultured empress Julia Domina, to learn the history of Apollonius, shows that he was not unknown to fame as a distinguished philosopher, as late as the beginning of the third century, when Philostratus wrote his Life of Apollonius. As admitted by Dr. Lardncr, all through the third century, there was frequent mention of his name and teachings.
But it was not until Hierocles in the beginning of the fourth century boldly charged upon the Christian priesthood their plagiarism of the teachings and works of Apollonius, that the latter found it necessary to set every means at work that could in any way help to conceal the great truth that Hierocles proclaimed with such portentous force. It is true that no one now knows exactly what it was that Hierocles wrote, for Eusebius, who took upon himself the task of destroying the testimony of Hierocles, took precious good care to destroy the work of his formidable opponent, and to give his own version of the matter instead. The reply of Eusebius to Hierocles has come down to us. Why has not Hierocles’ arraignment of the Christian priesthood also come down to us? Let that priesthood answer.
We can in no way more effectually show the effect which the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, by Philostratus, had upon the Christian priesthood and clergy, than to cite the observations of Dr. S. Parker, D. D., Archdeacon of Canterbury, published 1681. We copy it from Dr. Lardner’s works. Tliey are as follows:
“But the man of wonders is Apollonius Tyanicus, of whom they boast and insult as the true heathen Messiah; in that he wrought not, as Vespasian did, one or two chance miracles; but his whole life was all prodigy, and equal to our Saviour’s both for the number and the wonder of his works. But here first we have in part shown what undoubted records we have of the life of Jesus; whereas, all the credit of Apollonius, his history, depends on the authority of one single man, who besides that he lived a hundred years after him, ventured nothing, as the apostles did, in confirmation of the truth, but only composed it in his study: thereby, as appears from his frequent digressions, to take occasion of communicating to the world all the learning he had raked together.
Nay, so far was he from incurring any loss by the work, that he was set upon it by a great empress, whose religious zeal in the cause would be sure to see him well rewarded. And though he made use of the commentaries of Damis, the inseparable companion of Apollonius, yet he confesses that Damis himself never published his commentaries, but that a friend of Damis communicated them to the Empress, which himself probably might have forged (as is common in courts) to pick her pocket.
However, as for Damis himself, it is evident from Philostratus, his whole story, that he was a very simple man, and that Apollonius only picked him up as a fit Sancho Panza to exercise his wit upon; so that upon all occasions we find him not only baffling the esquire in disputes, but breaking jests upon him, which he always takes with much thankfulness, and more humility, still admiring his master’s wisdom, but much more his wit. But after all, what the story of Damis was, or whether there was ever any such story, we have no account, unless from Philostratus himself; and therefore we must resolve it all into his own authority alone.
And there it is evident, that Apollonius was neither a god nor a divine man, as his friends boasted; nor a magician or conjurer, as his enemies imagined, but a more fanatic and pedantic Pythagorean; who for the honor of his sect travelled, as many others have done, into all parts of the world; and when he returned home told his countrymen, that all men renowned for wisdom all the world over were of the sect of the Pythagoreans; and then for advancement of their authority told strange and prodigious tales of their wonder-working power. Though here either he, or his historian, has acquitted himself so awkwardly, as utterly to spoil the tale and defeat the design. This Eusebius has shown at large in his book against Hierocles, by taking to pieces all parts of the story, and discovering all its flaws and incoherences.
But I shall content myself with proving the vanity of the whole from the notorious falsehood of one particular narration, upon which depends all that extraordinary power which he pretends to; and that is his conversation with the Indian Brahmans, from whom, if we may believe his account of himself, he learned all that he could do, more than the common philosophers of Greece. And if this prove a romance, all the rest of his history must avoidably follow its fortune.”
Here some of the most trivial things related by Damis are cited to show that the Brahmans of India imparted nothing worth knowing to Apollonius. And then he continues: “And that is the most I can make of the story ; though I know that Huetius is of opinion, that all the substantial miracles are stolen out of the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and that for the most part, in the words and phrases of St. Luke. And this he has endeavored to make good by a great variety of parallel instances; and thinks it a manifest discovery both of the vanity of Philostratus, and the imposture of Apollonius, where he is only adorned with borrowed feathers, but a great accession to the credit of our Saviour, that when his enemies would frame the idea of a divine man, they were forced to steal their best feathers from his picture.
So that, he says, it was no wonder that Hierocles should so confidently compare the miracles of Apollonius to those of Jesus, when those of Jesus were with so little disguise clapped upon Apollonius. “This were a pretty discovery if it stood upon good grounds; but alas! most of the parallelisms are so forced, or so slender, or so far fetched, that it were easy to make as many, and as probable, between any other histories whatever. And indeed, in such a design as this of Philostratus, viz, to make up a story as full of strange things as he could contrive, it is scarcely possible not to have hit upon some things like some of those miracles which are recorded in the gospels; so that in some few of them there may be some resemblance, as particularly there seems to be in that of the Gadarene demoniac, and the Coreyrean youth; yet it is very obvious to apprehend, that this might happen, not by design, but by chance.
And whereas Huetius will needs have it, that Philostratus has stolen not only the stories, but the very words of St. Luke, I find no instance of it, only in this one relation, where they both, it seems, use the word “basanichein” (?); and this they might easily do without theft or imitation, it being the common Greek word that signifies “torment”; so that they could no more avoid that in Greek, than we could this in rendering it into English.
Nay, setting aside this one story, I find no resemblance between the history of Philostratus and that of the gospels, that I scarce know any two stories more unlike; for it is obvious to any man that reads Philostratus, that his whole design was to follow the train of the old heathen mythology; and that is the bottom of his folly, by his story to gain historical credit to the fables of the poets. So that it is a very true and Just censures which Ludovicus Vives has given of him, that as he had endeavored to imitate Homer, so he had abundantly out-lied him…
But the great miracle of all was his (Apollonius) vanishing away at his trial before Domitian in the presence of all the great men of Rome. But then, though our historian be very desirous we would believe it, yet he falters afterwards, like a guilty liar, in his confidence. For whereas at first he positively affirms, that he quite vanished away; at last he only says, that he went away. And this, though he would seem to affirm that it was after a wonderful manner, and nobody knows how, is a pitiful abatement to the bigness of his former expression, ‘vanishing away.’ Though the truth is, if he stood to it, it must have unavoidably proved itself a lie; for it is utterly incredible, that so strange a thing as that should have been done in so great a presence, and yet never any notice taken of it.
But in the last place, the historian would fain bid at something of his hero’s appearing after death; yet he does it so faintly, that in the conclusion of all it comes to nothing especially when he tells us, that the time of his death was altogether unknown, and that the uncertainty of it took in no less than the compass of thirty years. And then they that were so utterly at a loss as to the time of his decease, and that for so long a space, were very likely to give a very wise account of the certain time of anything that he did after it.
But how, or to whom did he appear? Why, to a young man, one of his followers, that doubted of the immortality of the soul, for ten months together after his death. But how, or where? Why, the young man being tired with watching, and praying to Apollonius, that he would appear to him in this point, one day fell asleep in the school, where the young men were forming their several exercises; and on the sudden he starts up in a great fright, and a great sweat, crying out: “I believe thee O ! Tyaneas”. And being asked by his companions the meaning of his transport: Why, says he, do you not see Apollonius? They answer him, No; but they would be glad to give all the world if they could. It is true, says he; for he only appears to me, for my satisfaction, and he is invisible to all others. And then he tells them what he had said to him in his sleep concerning the state of souls. This poor account of the dream and vision of an over-watched boy, is all that this great story affords, to vie with our Saviour’s resurrection.
And now upon the review of this whole story, it seems evident to me, that this man was so far from being endowed with any extraordinary divine power, that he does not deserve the reputation of an ordinary conjurer; for though Huetius has taken some pains to prove him so, yet he gives no evidence of it beside the opinion of the common people; and if that were enough to make a conjurer, there is no man of an odd and singular humor (as Apollonius accepted to be) who is not so thought of by the common people. And, therefore, when he was accused for it before Domitian, the emperor, upon coming to hear the cause, slighted both him and his accusers and dismissed him from the court for an idle and fantastic fellow.
And it is manifest from the whole series of his history, that he was a very vain man, and affected to be thought something extraordinary, and so wandered all the world over in an odd garb to be gazed at and admired, and made himself considerable, in that age by wit, impudence and flattery; of all which he had a competent share. And for his wonder-working faculty which he needs pretend to, he fetched that as far off as the East Indies, that is, the farthest off, as he thought, from confutation; and yet the account which he has given of those parts is so grossly fabulous, that that alone convicts his whole life’ of imposture and impudence.”
Such was the consternation produced by the translation of Philostratus’ “Life of Apollonius of Tyana,” into the modern tongues of Europe, that Christians both Catholic and Protestant, seem to have cast discretion to the winds and to have floundered into the bog from which it was their chief aim to escape. It will be seen that neither Dr. Parker, Huet, nor Dr. Lardner so much as deigned to notice the real and undeniable facts connected with the life and labors of Apollonius, but spent all their ingenuity in making the most of the fictitious or exaggerated recitals which were so common an accompaniment of ancient historical narratives, not one of which does not mingle the marvelous with the well authenticated events, which constitute the ground work and object of all ancient historical records. This avoidance of all notice of the philosophical and religious teachings of Apollouius, by those learned theologians, shows, as nothing else could, their consciousness, that Apollonius was really the Jesus, Paul and John of the “New Testament Scriptures,”
We have shown that Apollonius for several years taught and preached at Antioch, and converted many, who were strangers to his knowledge, to a belief in his doctrines. It was owing to his great renown as a spiritual medium and teacher, acquired at Antioch, that certain Jews who had become acquainted with his gifts as a medium, and the remarkable manifestations of spirit power occurring through him, prevailed upon him to go to Jerusalem. This visit, he tells us, he made to Jerusalem when he was just thirty-three years of age, the very age at which it has been alleged that Jesus began his heaven appointed mission.
He tells us he was then hailed upon his entrance into that city, by the people, as it has been alleged the entrance of Jesus of Nazareth was hailed, with hosannas and songs of praise to one who came in the name of the Lord. He refers no doubt to the following portion of the (xxi Matthew 9), “And the multitude that went before, and that followed, cried Hosanna to the son of David; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he came into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying. Who is this? and the multitude said, This is Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.”
It is true that Apollonius says nothing of his experience at the hands of the Jewish priesthood, and we are left to infer that their treatment of him was less agreeable to him than his reception by the multitude. It is true that there is no historical mention extant of this visit of Apollonius to Jerusalem, and therefore we may justly conclude that the writer of “The Gospel According to Matthew,” after making use of such a historical manuscript to serve his purpose of robbing Apollonius of his duly acquired fame, by substituting the mythical Jesus in his stead, took special care to destroy the historical original.
That Apollonius never returned to Jerusalem, until he did so thirty-two years afterward as the oracle in Vespasian’s camp at the overthrow of Jerusalem, would indicate that the usage he had received at the hands of the Jewish priesthood, on his first visit, was such as to detour him from again placing himself in their power. As strong evidence of the correctness of this conjecture, it is well to note, that Judea was the only civilized country that Apollonius did not visit, and throughout which he did not preach, and in which he did not receive the fraternal reception of every order of priesthood.
That Damis made no record of this visit of Apollonius to Jerusalem, may be reasonably accounted for by the facts that it was made before Damis began his memoirs, and in all probability Apollonius was too much disgusted with the narrow bigotry of the Jewish hierarchy to inform Damis about it. Apollonius has not told us what followed his joyous reception by the people of Jerusalem. The writers who have made use of that event to exalt their mythical man-god, say, regarding the latter:
“And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple and he healed them. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David ; they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?’ And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.”
How much of that is taken from the historical memoirs of Apollonius, we may not certainly know; but nothing is more thoroughly authenticated than the fact that Apollonius was a wonderful healing medium – that he restored sight to the blind, strength to the lame, health to the sick, life to those apparently dead, and prophesied with an accuracy that astonished the then civilized world. That he did all these things at Jerusalem, is most probable, if not certain. And thus, through the return of the spirit of Apollonius, we have a chapter of history revived that the writers of the Christian scriptures supposed they had entirely obliterated from its records.
NEW: See also the latest video of the grand-grand son of Jonatahn Roberts, the PAT-member Jon Roberts on Apollonius of Tyana and the scientific activities of his grand-grand father:
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