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Apollo the Chrēst? God of Oracles and Son of God

by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S

The Greek sun god Apollo in his chariot with four horses   Jesus Christ as Helios/Sol, the sun god

The Greek god of the sun and oracles, Apollo, possesses important attributes in common with the Jewish savior Jesus, including his status as the son of God. As Jesus was titled "the Christ" or Christos, so too was Apollo purportedly styled Chrēstos, a similar-sounding Greek word meaning "good" or "useful," among other connotations. 

Chrestos heros in an inscription from Delphi, GreeceIt is further claimed that this sun god and son of God was given the epithet ΙΗ or "IE," which appears on a Larissan epitaph discovered at the Greek sacred site of Delphi, ostensibly representing the year of "age" ("eton") of 18. If Apollo essentially was called "IE the Chrēstos," centuries before the common era, we find ourselves faced with an important precedent for "Iesous the Christos" or Jesus Christ. 

Concerning the uses of the word chrestos or its related forms in Pagan antiquity, which I have discussed in depth in my paper "Is Suetonius's Chresto a Reference to Jesus?", one writer comments:

...the appellation of Chrestos which it is here insisted was employed in the Gospels, was more honorable and certainly more significant and appropriate [than Christos]. Many years ago the writer saw it upon a statuette of Apollo that had been brought from an Eastern repository. Apollo, as every classic scholar knows, was the reputed son of Zeus, the Supreme Divinity of the Hellenic Pantheon. He was the god of oracles, and was supposed to impart the gifts of healing and divination. A reference to Greek lexicons will show that many of the words which were formed from the χρηστός (chrestos) relate directly to the oracular art. A Chrestes was a diviner or giver of oracles; a chresis or chresmos denoted the oracular utterance of a divinity; a chresterion was the place of an oracle, or an offering presented there, or the staff of a God or divining priest, and a chrestologos was an interpreter of oracles, like the peter or hierophant of oriental sanctuaries. (The Metaphysical Magazine, 14.142)

Here we see the contention that the Greek sun god Apollo was called chrestos, a claim made elsewhere, such as: "...the word Chrestos was so closely associated with divinity that it was often applied by the Greeks to Apollo and other gods."

Apollo was the "god of oracles," as we know from his temple at the Greek site of Delphi, seat of his famous oracle. In this regard, we further discover that this term, chrestos, is "one who is continually warned, advised, guided, whether by oracle or prophet." (Liddell and Scott's Greek Lexicon) Moreover, devotees in antiquity such as the Tyrrhenians made " first fruit offerings to Zeus, Apollo and the Kabeiroi," these latter being the Samothracian gods, were said by Latin writer Macrobius (c. 400 AD/CE) to have been called chrestoi. Hence, it would not be surprising to find this term applied to the god of oracles himself, or at the very least to his followers and initiates.

Apollo the IE?

Parkhurst cites the following source for this contention: "See Dickenson's Delphi Phœnicizantes, cap. x, _Plutarch_, tom. ii. p. 392, edit. _Xylandri_; _Euseb_. Praep. Evang. lib.xi. cap. 11. It has been contended also that this monogram IE appeared over Apollo's temple at Delphi and that it is equivalent to the Hebrew יה or Yahh (Strong's H3050), also transliterated as "Jah," the name of the Lord at Exodus 15:2 and 44 other times in the Old Testament. Interestingly, in the same verse (Exd 15:2), Jah has "become my salvation," the latter Hebrew term appearing as ישועה yĕshuw'ah, essentially the same as Yeshua or Joshua, Hebrew for "Jesus." The Greek OT renders this word as σωτηρία or soteria. As we know from the English rendering "Jehovah" or "Iehovah," appearing first in the Tyndale Bible, the initial syllable yodh he in the Hebrew tetragrammaton for God, יהוה‎ or YHWH, is often transliterated as "ie." Hence, this "Jah" abbreviation could be rendered "IE," the same title purportedly given to Apollo at Delphi and the first two letters of "Iesous," the Greek name for "Jesus."

For his contention that the inscription "IE" or its backward equivalent "EI," the same as the Hebrew יה, is an epithet of Apollo found "inscribed over the great door of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi," in his book An Hebrew and English Lexicon, Bishop of Norwich John Parkhurst cites Dickenson's Delphi Phœnicizantes, as well as the ancient writers Plutarch and Eusebius. Dickenson (ch. 3) compares Apollo to the biblical "patriarch" Joshua, asserting: Sed quod Apollo idem sit qui Josua or "But that Apollo is the same as Joshua." As we know, Joshua possesses many solar attributes and after scientific analysis cannot be deemed a historical figure.

Dickenson next shows that the two figures share an epithet, as Joshua or Yeshua is called Ἰησοῦς Iesous or "Jesus" in the Greek Old Testament, while Apollo is given the same Greek phoneme  ΙΗ or "IE," equivalent to the Hebrew יה ie or "Jah." In the first century BCE, Diodorus Siculus (1.94.2) wrote that Yahweh was equated with the Egyptian and Greek "IAO," and Dickenson likewise demonstrates that the Hebrew tetragrammaton was also rendered "Ieuo."

In his Praep. Evang. (11.11), Church father Eusebius discusses "Plutarch's treatise entitled On the EI at Delphi." The Greek historian Plutarch's lengthy treatise De EI apud Delphos, titled in English, "Of the Word EI Engraven Over the Gate of Apollo's Temple at Delphi," was written around 100 AD/CE.

Son of God

In Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes (158), the playwright calls Apollo παῖ Διός, "(male) child of Zeus/God," not very different from υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ or "son of God," as Jesus is called in the New Testament. In The Iliad, the Greek poet Homer (2.1.9) styles Apollo Διὸς υἱός or, literally, "Zeus/God son." Also in the Iliad, Homer calls Zeus πάτερ or "Father," the same Greek word used to describe God/Jesus in the New Testament. And in Homer's Odyssey (8.334), we read Διὸς υἱὸς Ἀπόλλων - "Zeus/God son Apollo," who in turn invokes Hermes as Διὸς υἱέ or "Zeus/God son." Of course, the Greek word used numerous times in the Bible, both the Greek OT and the NT, to describe "God" is θεός, a term employed throughout pre-Christian Greek literature.

In Apollo, we have a pre-Christian son of God who may have been titled "Chrēstos" for his role as God of Oracles, as well as "IE," part of an epithet discovered on tombstones and other artifacts including his temple at Delphi. Hence, the son of God Apollo - a sun god - could be said to be "IE the Chrēst," possibly centuries before the common era.

Further Reading

Is Suetonius's Chresto a Reference to Jesus? 
The Chi-Rho Symbol and Chrestos
Chrestos Magical Cup? 
Chrestes as Oracle and Chrematizo in the New Testament
Isis the Chrest and the Egyptian Houses of Goodness
Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius: No Proof of Jesus
Christos or Chrestos?
Does Josephus prove a historical Jesus?
The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Untangled
Franck Goddio Society Chrestos Bowl Report
Earliest Reference Describes Christ as 'Magician'
Catalogue of Chrest
The First 'New Testament': Marcion of Pontus and the Gospel of the Lord

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