While debating Dr. William Lane Craig at Ohio State University in 1999 on the subject “Did Jesus of Nazareth Rise From the Dead”, theologian and author Dr. Robert Price touted the apparent parallels in the historical Jesus stories to that of ancient myth. Here is an example that Dr. Price used:
Dr. Price Speaking – “You ask yourself if there’s no parallel here. Think of the doubting Thomas episode, here’s one from Apollonius of Tyana. This is after Apollonius has disappeared from a locked temple and a heavenly voice said he had gone to heaven so those who saw him could not find him. This is after that. His disciples are together studying.
There came to Tyana a youth who did not shrink from acrimonious discussions and who would not accept truth in argument. Now Apollonius had already passed away from among men but people still wondered at his passing and no one ventured to dispute that he was immortal. This being so, the discussions were mainly about the soul for a band of youths there were passionately addicted to wisdom.
The young man in question, however, would on no account allow the tentative immortality of the soul and said, ‘I myself gentlemen, have done nothing now for nine months but to pray to Apollonius that he would reveal to me the truth about the soul. But he is so utterly dead that he will not appear to me in response to my entreaties nor give me any reason to consider him immortal.’
Such were the young man’s words on that occasion but on the fifth day following, after discussing the same subject he fell asleep where he was talking with them and of the young men who were studying with him, some were reading books and others were industriously drawing geometrical figures on the ground when on a sudden, like one possessed, he leaped up still in half sleep, streaming with perspiration and cried out, ‘I believe thee!’
And when those who were present asked what was the matter, ‘Do you not see,’ said he. ‘Apollonius the sage, how he is present with us and is listening to our discussion and is reciting wonderous verses about the soul?’
‘But where is he?’ They asked. ‘We cannot see him anywhere, although we would rather do so than possess all the blessings of mankind.’
And the youth replied, ‘It would seem that he hast come to converse with me alone concerning the things I would not believe.’”
Now, contrast that with the Doubting Thomas Passage in
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
As Dr. Craig later points out, the stories of Apollonius, written by Philostratus were written some 150 years after the crucifixion of Jesus!