St Paul, despite all the stories, exists only in the minds of believers. The popular image of  is crafted from two sources: the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles which bear his name. Other than these books, there are no contemporary historical accounts with any references to Paul and his
activities.. More more recent references are Christian writers of the second and third centuries who were clearly biased in there observations.

Christian theology tells us that St. Paul was once known as Saul of Tarsus.  The scriptures say he was educated by the noted first-century Rabbi Gamaliel. There is evidence of the existence of  Gamaliel,  but, like St. Paul, there is no evidence that Saul of Tarsus ever existed.

 

The only account we have of Saint Paul is the Book of Acts. The author has cobbled together several older documents. There are at least three such documents: The original The Acts of the Apostles  1:1— 13:9, The Acts of Paul 13:9—20:38,  and Luke’s account 20:39—28:31  Other than that these accounts have been juxtapositioned, there is no reason to believe that Saul and Paul are the same person.

 

     All references to Saul or Paul exist only in the scriptures or in Christian writings several centuries later.  We read of Gamaliel because he was a noted Jewish theologian. But why do we read nothing of Saul, a man so respected he was chosen by the Sanhedran to lead the prosecution of heretical Jews who were corrupting Jewish doctrine, preaching treason and bringing down the wrath of Rome, (i.e. the Zealots). It was his job to capture them and bring them to public trial and execution. Saul was present when Stephenwas stoned for blasphemy. Saul went door to door in Jerusalem finding  and imprisoning radicals..

      The trail-blazing Christian missionary and apostle, St Paul, appears nowhere in the secular histories of his age (not in Tacitus, not in Pliny, not in Josephus, etc.) The only gospel writer who mentions him is Luke, in the Gospel of Luke and  Acts of the Apostles, in which Luke places himself in a prominent position. Though we are told by Luke that St. Paul mingled in the company of provincial governors and had audiences before kings and emperors, no scribe thought it worthwhile to record these events. 

     The only notable historical character name Paul was Lucius Sergius Paulus or Paullus, a Proconsul of Cyprus under Claudius (c. 45 AD). He was converted to Christianity and we hear no more about him. But his story might be found in Acts 13:9—20:38.  The legendary Apollonius of Tyana might be the source of the letters attributed to St. Paul.

         Apollonius of Tyana  Aπολλώνιος  Τυανεύς; c. 15 – c. 100 AD) was a  charismatic teacher and miracle worker from the town of Tyana in the Roman province of Cappadocia in Anatolia.  Hardly anything about the sage is certain. 

 

       Apollonius seems to have written many letters using a concise style of short notes done in a cipher. A strip of leather was rolled slantwise round a staff, on which the letters were written lengthwise, so that when unrolled they were unintelligible. The individual to whom the letter was written had a staff of like thickness, round which they rolled their strip, and so were able to read the letters. This system necessitated short letters.

 

 

     Though he wrote many letters, all we have are copies contained in later writings of various authors and the legitimacy  and accuracy of these copies is questioned.  There are so many parallels between the persons of Paul and of Apollonius it is hard to believe that they are not one in the same person   

 

 

 

     In the Pauline Epistles,  his name is abbreviated to "Apollos" or perhaps "Pol" (Paul.)  That Apollos (which the Encyclopedia Britannica says is an abbreviation of Apollonius) was the real author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, falsely attributed to Paul, was the opinion of Martin Luther and other eminent scholars. And if Apollonius wrote some of the so-called Pauline Epistles, is there any reason to believe he didn't write them all?