In Chapter 11 of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" I find the following footnote
1. Apollonius of Tyana was born about the same time as Jesus Christ. His life (that of the former) is related in so fabulous a manner by his disciples, that we are at a loss to discover whether he was a sage, an impostor, or a fanatic.
Is anyone going to try to convince me that Gibbon was not amusing himself -- playing with fire by writing something which could be interpreted (if not of the parenthetical commment) as implying that he thinks the gospels are fables and that Jesus Christ may have been an impostor or a fanatic ?