Apollonius of Tyana EARLY SOURCES

Apollonius of Tyana was a neo-pythagorean philosopher who it was said could do miracles. If he really did raise someone from the dead, and ascended into heaven, that would make the miracles of Jesus not so unique. So what is the evidence about Apollonius of Tyana?

Indeed, non-Christians, from the wife of Emperor Severus, to Hieorcles in the third century, to Voltaire in the 17th century, have presented the legends of Apollonius of Tyana as a substitute for Christ.

Let’s look at what we actually know about Apollonius from two angles: earlier sources, and later sources.

Earlier Sources
Damis of Ninevah, in his memoirs claimed to be a disciple of Apollonius of Tyana. Damis says that Apollonius of Tyana was a neo-pythagorean philosopher who flourished in the last half of the first century. He was also a magician who could predict the future and performed healing. He also wrote on astrology. According to Damis, Apollonius of Tyre visited Brahmans in India and Egypt, and had a conflict with a man named Euphrates of Tyre.
Moeragenes in his Reminiscences also claims Apollonius was a magician.
There are letters that were claimed to by by Apollonius, but many of them were very likely forged.


Life of Apollonius by Flavius Philostratus


§41] And on the next day he called Damis and said: "My defense has to be pleaded by me on the day appointed, so do you betake yourself in the direction of Dicaearchia,[1] for it is better to go by land; and when you have saluted Demetrius, turn aside to the sea-shore where the island of Calypso lies; for there you shall see me appear to you."


"Alive," asked Damis, "or how?"


Apollonius with a smile replied: "As I myself believe, alive, but as you will believe, risen from the dead."


Accordingly he says that he went away with much regret, for although he did not quite despair of his master's life, yet he hardly expected him to escape death. And on the third day he arrived at Dicaearchia, where he at once heard news of the great storm which had raged during those days; for a gale with rain had burst over the sea, sinking some of the ships that were sailing thither, and driving out of their course those which were tending to Sicily and the straits of Messina. And then he understood why it was that Apollonius had bidden him to go by land.


[§42] The events which followed are related by Damis, he says, from accounts given by Apollonius, both to himself and Demetrius. For he relates that there came to Rome from Messene in Arcadia a youth remarkable for his beauty, and found there many admirers, and above all Domitian, whose rivals even the former did not scruple to declare themselves, so strong was their attachment.


By Philostratus


[§29] The memoirs then of Apollonius of Tyana which Damis the Assyrian composed, end with the above story; for with regard to the manner in which he died, if he did actually die, there are many stories, though, Damis has repeated none.




The Gospel of Luke presents itself as history.  But it never gives its sources which makes it an interpretation of history whether true or alleged history.  It has no right to claim to be history.  Philostratus like Luke says that he consulted many sources. Philostratus is smarter than Luke for he says he had letters and writings and scripts from Apollonius to go by. He said Maximus of Aegae wrote a history of the holy man and that he consulted that too. He even condemned somebody else’s history of Apollonius as rubbish. The condemned historian was Moeragenes. Even Luke did not go as far as Philostratus and yet it is clear that as plausible as Philostratus seems to be he wrote lies.  His method is reasonable but the end result is still lies and myth.  If Philostratus was a fake, Luke had to be a bigger one.


Here is a note about Philostratus: It is also noteworthy that Philostratus, a known author, claims to have gathered information on Apollonius from a number of sources, including : letters and treatises from the hand of Apollonius himself , a history of Apollonius written by Maximus of Aegae, and memoirs written by Damis and furnished by Julia Domna, the wife of Roman EmperorSeptimius Severus. Philostratus even goes so far as to mention his scepticism over Moeragenes’ four books about Apollonius. By comparison, the anonymous Gospel accounts of Jesus only offer Luke 1: 1-4 where no specific (and non-supernatural ) sources are cited, and where scepticism and criticism is generally found wanting. See Philostratus and C. P. Jones, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana: Books 1-4 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 1.2-3.






Apollonius of Tyana also did miracles and rose. What about him?

Apollonius of Tyana (a city south of Turkey) is sometimes offered as a challenge to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. It is said that Apollonius, who lived in the first century, also performed miracles, had disciples, died, and appeared after his death the same as Jesus. Therefore, critics conclude, what Jesus did isn't unique. Some even say that this is evidence that the Christian account of Christ's healings, miracles, and post death appearances were merely copied from the accounts of Apollonius. Are these accusations supportable? No, they aren't.

First of all, the accounts of Apollonius were written well after he is supposed to have lived by a man named Philostratus (170 - 245 A.D.). This is long after the New Testament was written. Therefore the written accounts of Apollonius were not written by eyewitnesses as were the gospels. If critics want to maintain that the New Testament is full of myth and must be discredited, then so must the accounts of Apollonius since the writings are written several generations after the fact. By contrast the New Testament was written by the eyewitnesses of Jesus' life. Logically, it is the New Testament accounts that are far more reliable than those of Apollonius. Also, this would mean that if any borrowing was done, it was done by Philostratus, not by the gospel writers.

Second, the eyewitness accounts of the New Testament writers were written before the close of the first century. For example, we know that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts do not contain the account of the fall of Jerusalem which occurred in 70 A.D. This fall included the destruction of the Jerusalem temple which was prophesied by Jesus in Matt. 24:1, Mark 13:1, and Luke 21:5. Such an incredibly major event in Jewish history would surely have been included in Acts and the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) if they were written after 70 A.D. since they would verify Jesus' predictive abilities. But, it is not included. Therefore, it is safe to say that they were written by the eyewitnesses of Jesus' life, unlike the accounts of Apollonius.

Third, Philostratus is the only source for the accounts of Apollonius where the Bible is multi-sourced. In other words, we have different writers writing about Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc., are different writers who's epistles were gathered by the Church and assembled into the Bible. That means that there is no verification for Apollonius other than the single writing of Philostratus.

Fourth, Philostratus was commissioned by an empress to write a biography of Apollonius in order to dedicate a temple to him. This means that there was a motive for Philostratus to embellish the accounts in order satisfy the requirement of the empress.1

It is not likely in the slightest that the gospels borrowed from Apollonius. It is most probably the other way around, especially since Philostratus had a motive to satisfy the empress who had commissioned him to write a biography of the man for whom a temple had been constructed.

1. Strobel, Lee, The Case for Christ, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998, p. 120.

MY REPLY: This is arguing that the Apollonius story came from thin air.  It did not.  Christians using the above argumentation do not care that most scientists in the world are not Christian and even the few religious believer ones are unconvinced by Christian ideas.  The religion pretends to care about truth.  Even when it uses truth, it uses it as a weapon and not because it is the truth.

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