Apollo (1878)

Briton Riviere painted Apollo in 1874, and it hangs at Bury’s Art Gallery & Museum. It shows the Greek deity strumming a lute and all the various fauna gathering around to enjoy the show. Apollo was the god of truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the Sun, as well as heir of the most high god, Zeus, and twin to the beautiful Aphrodite.

This has led foolish persons to suggest that Jesus Christ was just a Jewish attempt at creating an Apollo-type figure to worship, one which we simple Christians have stupidly played along with. There are certainly parallels between this Greek god and the Lord Jesus whom we at Salem Chapel proclaim and serve. The latter is Son of God, brighter than the sun, a healer of our diseases, the Truth and the fulfilment of all prophecies. Yet the two figures are markedly different. Jesus Christ, the Beautiful One, became an ordinary looking man, possessing no beauty or comeliness. He healed the sick while standing among them, not just peering down from above or pretending to have a human body. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus died for people that their sins might be forgiven. This Apollo would never consider doing; the classical gods were handsome and athletic, but they were seldom loving and compassionate. Riviere’s Apollo might entertain the creation, but he certainly could not redeem it and make all things new.

How good is the God we adore!

Our faithful, unchangeable friend:

his love is as great as his pow'r

and knows neither knows measure nor end.


For Christ is the first and the last;

his Spirit will guide us safe home;

we'll praise him for all that is past

and trust him for all that's to come.

-Joseph Hart