[The Theosophist, Vol. II, No. 9, June, 1881, pp. 188-189]
In the History of the Christian Religion to the Year Two Hundred, by Charles B. Waite, A.M., announced and reviewed in the Banner of Light (Boston), we find portions of the work relating to the great thaumaturgist of the second century A.D.—Apollonius of Tyana, the rival of whom had never appeared in the Roman Empire.
[“Apollonius Tyanaeus was the most remarkable character of that period. . . . Before his birth, Proteus, an Egyptian god, appeared to his mother and announced that he was to be incarnated in the coming child.”]*
This is a legend which, in days of old, made of every remarkable character a “son of God” miraculously born of a virgin. And what follows is history.
[In his youth, Apollonius was famous for his personal beauty, his mental powers and his ascetic life. When nearly 100 years old, he was brought before the Emperor at Rome, accused of being an enchanter; he was thrown into prison from which he vanished, and was met that same day by his friends at Puteoli, three days’ journey from Rome.]
Some writers tried to make Apollonius appear a legendary character, while pious Christians will persist in calling him an impostor. Were the existence of Jesus of Nazareth as well attested by history and he himself half as well known to classical writers as was Apollonius, no sceptic could doubt today the very being of such a man as the Son of Mary and Joseph.
* [pp. 90, 92.]
Apollonius of Tyana was the friend and correspondent of a Roman Empress and several Emperors, while of Jesus no more remained on the pages of history than as if his life had been written on the desert sands. His letter to Abgarus, the prince of Edessa, the authenticity of which is vouchsafed for by Eusebius alone—the Baron Munchausen of the patristic hierarchy—is called in A View of the Evidences of Christianity “an attempt at forgery” even by Paley himself, whose robust faith accepts the most incredible stories. Apollonius, then, is a historical personage; while many even of the Apostolic Fathers themselves, placed before the scrutinizing eye of historical criticism, begin to flicker and many of them fade out and disappear like the “will o’-the-wisp” or the ignis fatuus.*
* [The most impartial and friendly account of the life and work of Apollonius of Tyana is the one by G.R.S. Mead, H.P.B.’s helper and renowned scholar, whose work is entitled Apollonius of Tyana. The Philosopher of the First Century A.D. (London and Benares: Theos. Publ. Society, 1901, 160 pp. 8vo.; 2nd ed., New York: University Books, 1966, xxii, 168 pp., with a valuable Foreword by Leslie Shepard.) Mead’s work analyses the value of Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius; summarizes the worth of the various accounts that have come down to us from ancient days, and gives all pertinent bibliographical data on the subject. It is well documented, written in an easy style, and presents a well-rounded picture of the epoch in which Apollonius lived.
The reference to Eusebius is to his Ecclesiastical History, I, 13, where the spurious exchange of letters between Jesus and Abgarus is mentioned.—Compiler.]