Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Was Jesus really Apollonius of Tyana? No.

JUNK HISTORY WATCH: Low-budget Amazon Prime documentary prompts explosion of interest in theory Jesus was a Greek man called Apollonius. ‘What about this person, Jesus? Was he real? Was he created? Was he an alien?’ film asks - to the general annoyance of theological experts (Tom Barnes, The Independent). I was going to ignore this story, but it seems to have gained some traction thanks to the recent coverage in Sputnik.

Yes, it is annoying. This is not a theory. It is not even a hypothesis. It is a notion that has no basis in any kind of historical reality. The sources for Jesus are much earlier and better than those for Apollonius. I don't doubt that Apollonius was a real philosopher who lived in the first century, but our main source for him is a biography by Philostratus written in the third century. You can read the whole, long work in the Loeb Classical Library translation here and here (for free).

There are some interesting similarities between Jesus and Apollonius as divine mediator figures, but they were quite different people and it takes willful obtuseness to suggest that they were the same person.

I see that back in 1998 my class on Divine Mediator Figures in the Biblical World had a seminar on Apollonius. You can read a student summary of some of the issues we discussed here. It assumes introductory material posted here and the bibliography on Apollonius posted here and also the bibilography on exorcism and anthropology here.

You can watch the trailer for the whole Bible Conspiracies "documentary" with the Independent article at the link. Apparently other themes include ancient aliens and Bible Code numerology. It's disappointing that Amazon Prime is promoting this drivel.

UPDATE (14 February): More here.

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