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the wonders ascribed to Apollonius, and those recorded of Jesus Christ. The mysterious birth, foretold by Proteus, and heralded by the song of swans, reminds us of the Annunciation, and of the vision of the shepherds at Bethlehem. The control over evil spirits, as in the cases of the Ephesian beggar, the Athenian youth, and the Lamia at Corinth; the restoration to life of the young maiden at Rome; the descent into the underworld at Lebadea; the ascension in the temple of Diana; and the vision afforded afterwards for the conversion of an unbeliever, — all these are imitated, designedly or undesignedly, from the Christian history. His disappearance from the presence of Domitian seems copied from incidents, perhaps misunderstood, in the life of Jesus: as when he, “passing through the midst of” his enemies, "went his way;" or when, after breaking bread with the two disciples at Emmaus, he “vanished out of their sight.”
The translator of Tillemont assigns, for the wonders of the sage, two explanations, which, he seems to think, differ little in probability. The one charges the accounts with intentional falsehood; the other supposes the wonders wrought by diabolical agency. Rejecting the latter explanation, and receiving the former only in part, we recognize in this history, with the more recent writers upon it, another element, the mythical. The sage of Tyana was, no doubt, a real person, - a wandering teacher of the Pythagorean philosophy. He
e may have been the counsellor of proconsuls and empe. rors; may, as Philostratus asserts, have plotted with Vindex and advised Vespasian, though the nearer historians, Taci. tus and Suetonius, make no mention of him. He may have been an excellent man; though it is not in his favor that the eminent philosopher Euphrates is introduced as his accuser, and that Mæragenes represented him as a magician. But we are safe in asserting, that, if he visited India, the Brahmins with whom he conversed did not have the power of floating in the air, and that the marriage-feast at Corinth did not vanish at his reproof. The stories respecting him grew in the interval between his time and that of Philostratus; as we
have seen that one of them has grown since by the additions of Burton and of Keats.
The life of Apollonius, then, if considered as an illustration of the progress of myths, may shed light upon the theory which attempts to account in a similar manner for the miracles of Jesus Christ. Here are two persons, who lived at the same time, and to both of whom wonderful works are ascribed. The history of the one contains a mass of stories, mythical, if not consciously false. Shall we infer from this, that the history of the other is subject to the same charge ?
No; for, in the first place, the period which had sufficed for the production of these myths in the case of Apollonius is much longer than can be claimed for the growth of a mythical bistory of Jesus Christ. The work of Philostratus did not appear till after the death of Julia Domna, A.D. 217; more than two centuries, therefore, from the date of its hero's birth. The accounts of the life of Jesus, on the contrary, were written by his contemporaries and disciples, or their immediate companions. Such is the testimony of antiquity. At the time when Philostratus composed his book, Origen was writing comments on the Gospels, – the same Gospels that we now possess, and which were then considered as unquestionably genuine.
In the second place, the words and deeds of Jesus were committed, not only to these writings, but to the reverent and conscientious memory of chosen men, his apostles and their associates, who devoted their lives to the work of proclaiming his religion. Even should it be proved that the written records were of later date, there must have been from the first an unwritten gospel in the preaching of the early disciples; and to this collected and generally authentic tradition from the eye-witnesses, the historians must have resorted as their most obvious means of information. A pollonius, on the other hand, founded no permanent school. He was himself a member of a school already existing, - that of Pythagoras. Philostratus indeed tells us, that his followers were called Apollonians (book viii. chap. xxi.). But this remark is made of those who attended his personal instructions; no other
historian mentions the sect; and the name is, in the judgment of Dr. Baur, a mere invention, to carry on the parallel between Apollonius and Christ (see Baur, note on p. 154).
In the third place, we know the sources, so far as they existed beyond vague tradition, of which Philostratus availed himself. The principal was the manuscript said to have been written by Damis. This had never been known to the world, until it came into the possession of the Empress Julia Domua, by whom it was committed to Philostratus, with direction to transcribe and revise it, paying “particular attention to the style and language; for the narrative of the Ninevite was plain, but not eloquent.” This command to ornament the story might easily be extended to authorize additions which would make it more interesting. There is, however, with regard to the narrative of Damis itself, one very suspicious circumstance. That person joined himself to Apollonius in the early manhood of the sage, when he commenced his travels in the East for the acquisition of knowledge; and, as Damis then offered himself as an interpreter in various languages, he must have been, at least, nearly as old as the philosopher. He remained with him throughout his course, until sent by Apollonius from Ephesus to Rome, with a letter to the Emperor Nerva. Even allowing Apollonius to have been born later than the date generally assigned him, he and his biographer must have been, at the accession of Nerva (A.D. 96), at least eighty years old, if he was a philosopher of extensive travel and high distinction in the time of Claudius, more than forty years before. It is difficult to believe in one such venerable traveller; but the coincidence of the sage and his Boswell, passing from land to land, giving instructions and recording them, when both were near a century old, is too much for our credulity.
In the fourth place, the stories told in the life of Apollonius show their own falsehood by other traits than the possession of a miraculous character. The wonders are grotesque, - a speaking tree, a weeping lion, tripods moving of their own accord. With these are such wonders of nature as serpents with magic jewels in their heads, vases containing the wind and the rain, and stones which eagles place in their nests as talismans to protect their young from serpents. How do these accounts contrast with the majestic exhibitions of power by the founder of the Christian faith; especially when we remember, that the biographer of Apollonius had before him the miracles of Christ, to copy, and if possible to excel, in those which he should ascribe to his own sage!
Still further, let any one compare the character of the Tyanean philosopher with that of the Man of Nazareth. We would not disparage what was real in the former. But we have not now to do with the real man, but with the representation of him which was brought forward in the third century as the rival of Jesus Christ. The Apollonius of Julia and Philostratus is the perfection of a heathen sage, cold, commanding, egotistic, urging on mankind the claims of a philosophy which, with some lofty thoughts, combines others that are partial, unnatural, or utterly false. Jesus of Nazareth has the warm heart of a gentle human being; and, while he leads his followers in devotion to the Father who sent him, he lays down his life for the good of mankind, leaving to all following ages the divine example of selfsacrifice.
That the attempt thus made to picture forth a “Pagan Christ" did not fully satisfy the defenders of the old religion, is evident from the fact, that the effort was repeated. Porphyry, who lived a generation after Philostratus, and Iamblichus, a contemporary of Constantine, alike passed by in silence the sage of Tyana, and devoted their praises to his master, Pythagoras. The earlier date of this personage left still wider space for imagination: hence we are told, not only that Pythagoras, like Apollonius, accepted the honors of divinity, but that, in proof of his right to them, he uncovered his thigh, and showed that it was of gold. The tyrant Pha. laris appears in his story, as the tyrants Nero and Domitian in that of the later philosopher. Of the two candidates, however, for the honor of competing with the Saviour, Dr. Baur justly gives the preference to A pollonius.
In him, then, heathen wisdom and classic culture did their
best — having the life of Jesus, too, before them - to produce a counterpart to Hin who "spake as never man spake." Imperial power and priestly influence joined their aid to establish the reputation of the teacher of Tyana, and to obscure that of the teacher of Nazareth. But the reverent love of mankind turned from the cold and shadowy form of philosophic arrogance, and chose the service of Ilim whose claims were authenticated alike by external proof, and by the beauty and holiness of the message that he brought from God to man. The legendary life of Apollonius faded from the memory of mankind at large, and was left as an object of transient interest to the few who love to search in libraries for what is curious in the records of the past. But the gospel of Christ, opposed in its progress by monarch and priest and sophist, speedily won its way to the throne of visible empire, while it established an ever-widening dominion over the minds and hearts of men. At this day it reigns over regions that Apollonius, in all the pride of his philosophy, never imagined to exist; and its sacred Founder stands imaged in the cabinets of kings, and is cherished in the hearts of the bumble, not in equal fellowship with other illustrious teachers, but in the unrivalled majesty of “the wellbeloved," “the only-begotten Son of God."
ART. III. – CONFUCIUS.
Confucius and the Chinese Classics. Edited and compiled by the
Rev. A. W. LOOMIS. A. Roman & Co., 417, Montgomery Street, San Francisco ; and 17, Mercer Street, New York. 1867.
We are living in a period of literary and historic reconstruction. The work which lies before our statesmen in the future consolidation of the Union, is not more radical than that which lies before every conscientious man of letters. The recent translation of Ewald, published in London, added to the life-long labors of Bunsen, offers material, on the one side, for years of Biblical and historic study. On the other,