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History - Science
Multiple theologians have highlighted the numerous similarities between Jesus Christ and a figure called Apollonius of Tyana, both of whom had large and fervent followings during their lifetimes. Apollonius — a philosopher and follower of Pythagoras — is believed to have lived roughly during the same time as Jesus.
The Turkish-born Apollonius was a traveling teacher who attracted followers by performing divine miracles like healing, resurrection, and exorcism. One account claims that much like Jesus, Apollonius was betrayed and sentenced to death, but afterwards, he appeared before his followers supernaturally, who thus became the champions of his teachings.
These similarities have led to an unorthodox theory that the story of Jesus is based on the life of Apollonius, which would mean the Christian Church is founded on the teachings of a pagan miracle worker. These beliefs were published in Jonathan Manning Roberts’ 1894 tract "Antiquity Unveiled," which claimed Christianity was derived purely from Apollonius.
Apollonius and Jesus both spoke about reincarnation and encouraged non-violence, but they also had some notable differences. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine, while Apollonius spoke against drinking alcohol, and Apollonius also discouraged his followers from eating meat and encouraged “pure intellect” over prayer.
New World Encyclopedia notes that the early biographers of Apollonius were vague about many of the details of his life and death, so proponents of the theory have tended to cherry-pick the parts of his life that most resemble Jesus. Additionally, the first record of Apollonius wasn’t written until A.D. 225, while the first record of Jesus is from 20-30 years after his crucifixion.