It’s easy to see the problem: one of the central claims of Christianity is that Jesus is unique. His birth was a one-time unprecedented event that began an extraordinary ministry on earth followed by a lowly painful death and a glorious resurrection. For many, it’s central that Jesus was one of a kind. Apollonius and Jesus lived around the same time, and there’s no reason to ever think that they met. The idea that there were other holy men wandering around the ancient Mediterranean invites the question: is it only the success of his followers that made Jesus special?Posts on the recent (largely bogus) documentary that started this discussion are here and here. But it is good to be having the discussion.
The first century did not see off the last of the messianic figures in this mold. Think, for example, of the mystical messiah of sin, Shabbetai Zvi in the 1660s.
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