There’s been a lot published on the Internet lately about the “Jesus is really Apollonius” theory lately. It has been popularized by an hour long documentary recently been made available through Amazon Prime Video entitled Bible Conspiracies.
Released in 2016, the so-called documentary was written and narrated by Philip Gardiner, a former Marketing Director turned conspiracy propagandist. It is full of undocumented, unverified, and debunked drivel that I and others have rebutted at length repeatedly. The “Jesus is really Apolonius the Greek” is just another in a long line of conjectures made up of whole cloth.
Even in looking at a number of internet articles on the subject, I could find not even one primary source, or even a reliable secondary source, cited to back up any more than superficial link between the alleged stories about Apollonius and the Biblical narrative about Jesus.
But to get back the film itself. It is a little over one hour of Mr. Gardiner (who never appears on camera) reciting a litany of supposed ‘facts’ about the Bible with a series of still images and short film snippets as backdrop. He cites no primary sources to support his assertions; in fact, his very, very few reference to source material are all passing remarks, and he gives no information as to authorship or level of expertise in the field for ANY of his sources. If it weren’t for the fact that I’ve actually researched most of his speculations and therefore knew where some of his stories originated, I would have assumed that he’d made it all up himself.
Some of the ideas he throws out are:
* Jesus never existed, and is both (!) a recycled Horus myth and was really a Greek philosopher/healer named Apolonius, as well as a physician trained in healing arts in Egypt
Real consistent there, isn’t he? But wait – there’s more!
* The Bible teaches reincarnation
* Jesus was married, and the wedding where He performed His first recorded miracle was His own
* The gospels were written by Gnostics
* Monothiesm was a Christian ‘invention’
….. and on and on and on.
In short, anything concerning the Bible or the Church citing either this film or Gardiner as a major source is very suspect. It is at best poorly researched and logically and historically bankrupt. It is a pastiche of misinterpretation, twisted logic, false statements, and fanciful concoctions that deserves to be ignored.
Well, Thanksgiving has barely passed and already the Jesus Mythicists are trotting out what seems to be their current favorite “older pagan god that proves the Gospels are just rehashed myths” character Horus yet again.The sad thing is that the whole Horus as a proto-Jesus myth argument has been so thoroughly refuted for so many years, yet it still remains popular with the mythicists. Even so, once you look at it carefully, it is so ridiculous that it would be hard to laugh at it except for the poor souls who are so deceived by it. But first, a light-hearted overview of the argument compliments of Lutheran Satire:
Since I’ve already been confronted with this atrocity multiple times in the last couple of weeks, this is a good time to give you all some facts about the Horus disproves Jesus nonsense. I’ll start with a short summary and history of the argument, and then the best refutation of it.
So, here’s the basic premise: There is a god who was
* Born of a virgin on Dec. 25th
* Performed miracles such as walking on water, healing the sick, etc.
* Had 12 disciples
* Was crucified
* Rose from the dead after 3 days
… and it wasn’t Jesus. It was the Egyptian god Horus, who predated Jesus of Nazareth by thousands of years. Therefore, Jesus was nothing more than a recycled pagan myth, certainly wasn’t God, and may not have existed at all.
Popularized by the films Zeitgiest and Religulous, this has been trotted out every Christmas and Easter for quite a few years now, and inexplicably (to me, at least) doesn’t seem to be waning in popularity even though, to quote another fable, “the emperor has no clothes”.
First of all, the source citations for the premise are virtually nonexistent. Religulous cites not sources at all, and the cited sources from Zeitgiest and mythicists popular on Youtube and the lecture circuit cite either each other or Gerald Massey. There is no reference to primary source material on Horus at all!
But wait, doesn’t Massey us primary sources? The definitive answer to that question is,”not in any scholarly or factual way, if at all”.
Let me explain: Gerald Massey was a 19th century poet, amateur Egyptologist, Socialist (follower of Marx), and Spiritualist. His most well known and referenced books by mythicists is Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World and The Natural Genesis. Both promote the Horus as the basis of Jesus story.
The problem with Massey is that his citations are not only sparse, but sloppy to the point that his source material cannot be determined. Not only that, but his ‘translations’ of the primary sources he does adequately cite are disputed by EVERY contemporary professional as well as modern Egyptologist that have examined the source documents.
Thus, since Massey does not point to verified primary (or, in the vast majority of citations, secondary) sources for his assertions, to cite Massey as a source is to give no source other than Massey’s imagination!
The only way to verify whether it is valid or not is to examine the primary sources relating to Horus from the earliest writingsup to the time of Christ.
What we find is that although there were various accounts of the Horus story throughout ancient Egyptian history, and even regional variations of the mythology of Horus, NONE of them contain any of the points given above save one: he was said to have performed miracles.
* Horus is not said to be born of a virgin in any of the accounts. There are slight variations, but the basic story is that his mother was impregnated by the (mostly) reassembled body of his father Osiris. His birthdate is fixed on different days by various accounts, usually around the solstice.
* Horus is said to have performed various miracles, but this is a common attribution of almost any deity. It is inconsequential in establishing a correlation on in and of itself.
* In the few accounts where the number of disciples or followers Horus had is mentioned, the number given varies, with four the most common. NONE of the accounts give the number 12.
* Not only do no sources prior to Massey refer to Horus as being crucified, that form of execution originated in Persia, and was not practiced in Egypt until it fell under Roman rule.
* Horus is not, in the primary sources, ever depicted as having been resurrected from the dead as he is never said to have died at all.
So when you see this kind of thing on the internet or television, or it is trotted out by skeptics or mockers you’re talking to, ask yourself (and them, gently) what their sources are and whether they have any idea what the actual hieroglyphic documents we have available say.
Then, gently point out that just because something similar is written about prior to an event doesn’t necessarily imply, much less prove, that the event in question didn’t happen. One of my favorite examples is the popular list of similarities between presidents Lincoln and Kennedy. Some of the ‘facts’ in the list are not true (unlike the Horus list in which MOST are fanciful), and most of the rest are either clear coincidence (like dates) or stated so broadly that they could apply to the majority of U.S. Presidents.
So, are we then to conclude that the stories about Abraham Lincoln prove that John Kennedy did not exist? I don’t think so.
Here are some additional resources for your viewing and reading pleasure:
Recently, I was surprised by an assertion that I had read about, but had not given much thought to since I’d never heard it before in personal conversation. After some inquiry, I found out that it is becoming a popular objection to the trustworthiness of the Gospel records.
The main premise of the argument is this: The New Testament accounts are unreliable simply because the authors of the books were followers of Jesus, and because of that were prone to exaggeration and fabrication.
Now, the person who presented this to me was quite convinced that this was not only a valid argument, but a powerful one as well. After all, if you can’t trust the authors to be accurate, you can’t reasonably believe what they write to be true. Therefore, the argument goes, Christianity cannot be true.
By the strict rules of logic, this argument is valid, but only if the premise is true. Show that to be false, and the conclusion becomes not only irrelevant but rather silly.
The premise (the text is unreliable because the authors believed the unique claims about the subject) is obviously false once you apply it to other works of nonfiction. If it is true, it is also true that all of the following are unreliable simply because the authors believed the facts presented are true:
* All history texts, both modern and ancient
* Any published scientific texts
* Any owner or service manual for a mechanical device
* All biographies
*Any courtroom testimony
… and the list goes on. My point is that just because the presenter of an implausible fact or historical event believes it to be true, it does not follow as a necessity that what he is relating is untrue. So, with the premise being shown false, the argument falls apart.
But the logical fallacy is not the only problem with this argument. It presupposes that the Gospel writers were purposely making up their writings in order to deceive people into believing that Jesus is the Christ when in fact he was not.
I’ve dealt with that idea before here and here if you want more detail and many resource links. Briefly, it is highly unlikely that the writers could have gotten away with it if that was their goal – there were scores (if not hundreds) of witness to the activities of Jesus alive at the time of publication who could easily refute their claims. The only Gospel account that is disputed by any available contemporary writings is the resurrection of Christ, and those few texts offer no evidence other than speculation to support the allegation. No body was ever found or said to have been found by contemporary writers.
It should also be noted that three of the Gospel writers did not start out as ‘true believers’, and not enough is known about Mark to be able to tell when he became a follower of the Christ. Two of the authors (Matthew and John) were disciples of Jesus, but even they admit that it wasn’t until after the resurrection that they realized that He was God. Luke was an historian (and probably a doctor); according to the introduction to the Gospel he wrote, his intent in writing it was to provide an orderly and factual account of the Christ. That many archaeological finds and ancient text corroborate formerly disputed passages and none have contradicted him is testimony to the truth of Luke’s Gospel.
So, because the Gospel accounts agree with known history on every point in which they can be verified AND there are no contemporary historical accounts that give any verified evidence to contradict them, the argument that the Gospels are untrustworthy because the authors believed that Jesus was the Christ falls apart on historical as well as logical grounds.
Here’s a question all of us apologists have asked at least once if we are serious about presenting Christ to those who are steeped in a different worldview:
“How do I effectively show them that their worldview is false and destructive without alienating them or shutting them down completely from hearing the Gospel?”
The usual answer I hear is profoundly true: “Follow the leading of the Spirit, and do so with love and an attitude of peace” BUT it isn’t really a complete answer.
You see, God has given us tools to use, and it is foolish for us to either ignore them or fail to learn and be able to use them when appropriate.
One tool is that of the simple question. Simply asking pointed questions with the proper attitude can point out the fallacies and consequences of a worldview without being snarky or confrontational.
Remember, the goal of presenting the Gospel to those who are skeptical or even decidedly opposed to Christ is not to ‘make the sale’; it is to give them enough information and reality to think about for them to come to the point where they can clearly see who Christ is, and then decide whether to follow Him or not. It is God’s work to bring them to Him; it is our task to live our lives and present His truth in such a way that they will hear His voice. Continue reading →
Recently at a Bible study, one of the guys there made some (for me) very frustrating and adamant statements. They weren’t really arguments, as he offered nothing to support his statements; he just repeated them, sometimes in a slightly different way. Here are the two that bothered me the most, especially coming from one who professes to be a Christian: Continue reading →
I’ve had questions about and been presented with the idea that “all religions ultimately lead to God, and so it doesn’t matter what you believe – all religions get you to heaven” rather often, so let’s take a look at that concept.