The Jesus Christ Theory That Would Change Everything

Throughout history, there have been numerous examples of a phenomenon known as "simultaneous invention," when the same discovery or innovation is made by two separate people at just about the same time. Quartz notes how in the 1770s, Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Joseph Priestley both discovered oxygen, while in 1869, Louis Ducos du Hauron and Charles Cros shared the "earliest workable methods of color photography" on exactly the same day. Such coincidences are certainly uncanny, but nothing quite compares to the claim of what might be considered "simultaneous lives," especially when one of those lives is one of the most consequential ever lived — that of Jesus Christ.

Since the death of Jesus Christ, many theologians and thinkers have highlighted the numerous similarities between his short life and that of a figure called Apollonius of Tyana, The Daily Beast reported. A philosopher and follower of the mathematician Pythagoras, Apollonius is believed to have been alive at roughly the same time as Jesus. In addition, both built their own large and fervent followings during their lifetimes.

Though Apollonius of Tyana was born in what is now Turkey, the parallels between his life and that of Jesus Christ are numerous and startling. Apollonius was a traveling teacher who attracted followers as a result of performing divine miracles, such as healing, resurrection, and exorcism. Like Jesus, one account claims Apollonius was betrayed and sentenced to death, after which he was said to have supernaturally appeared to his followers, who thus became the champions of his teachings.

Bizarre similarities between Jesus Christ and Apollonius of Tyana

The similarities in the lives of Jesus Christ and Apollonius of Tyana have led to an unorthodox theory: The story of Jesus is based on the life of Apollonius, and that therefore the Christian Church is founded on the teachings of a pagan miracle worker. In 1894, for example, Jonathan Manning Roberts published the tract "Antiquity Unveiled," claiming Christianity was derived purely from Apollonius (via Internet Archive). In yet another theory, Historic Mysteries reported that when the newly forming Christians had to decide which seemingly above-average guru was the son of God, they chose Jesus. 

But per Historic Mysteries, Jesus of Nazareth and Apollonius of Tyana had different beliefs regarding human relationships with God. Jesus, as we know, taught that God answers prayers, but Apollonius told his followers that prayers and sacrifices were not what God wanted. Rather, he said God was "pure intellect" and the way to communicate with him was via intellect or meditation. Apollonius' teachings were more similar to that of Hindus than of what we know as Christianity today. 

Classical Wisdom reported that Apollonius also spoke about reincarnation — the idea that the soul is continually reborn and the way you behave in one life determines how you will be reborn in the next. He also urged non-violence, as did Jesus, but in addition to not hurting others, Apollonius encouraged his followers to avoid eating meat. According to the guru, such pacifism could give you a leg-up in your next life.

Unlike Jesus, Apollonius was both a mystic and a scientist

According to Classical Wisdom, Apollonius and Jesus both believed in living lives of simplicity, denouncing the wealthy and powerful. Yet Apollonius seems to have had stricter guidelines. Rather than turning water into wine, Apollonius "condemned" the consumption of alcohol. He is also considered an early scientist, and some argue that his "miracles" were not that at all. Instead, some claimed they were things he knew how to do because of his early scientific knowledge — things others didn't understand. On the other hand, there's a story about Apollonius stopping a follower from marrying a woman who turned out to be a vampire, so do what you will with these ancient stories. 

In fact, New World Encyclopedia notes that the early biographers of Apollonius were vague about many of the details of his life and death; proponents of the theory have tended to cherry-pick details so that his life resembles that of Jesus. Plus, the first account of Apollonius' life is believed to have been written in A.D. 225. Elsewhere, the earliest recorded mention of Jesus is about 20 to 30 years after his crucifixion, per OpenMind. Although Historic Mysteries claims there is no real way to know when either man was born, going by how we track time today, it's believed they both lived in the first century.

Regardless, both Jesus' and Apollonius' deaths are storied legends. Each man's body was said to have disappeared after being arrested, though Jesus was put to death, while stories around Apollonius' death vary; some believe he was executed like Jesus, while others claim he died of old age.