I am not as familiar and up with the times on historical Jesus or Josephus scholarship as I would like to be. I have a lot to learn, if I can ever find the time and desire to do so. But, I have read a couple of books on the theory that there was no historical Jesus. One was Earl Doherty’s book “The Jesus Puzzle” and the other was David Fitzgerald’s book “Nailed”. Both books are easy to find on Amazon. A friend of mine shared with me a critical review of “Nailed”, which is available here:
Fitzgerald’s response is here:
The critical reviewer, Tim O’Neill’s response to Fitzgerald again:
I came away much more impressed with O’Neill.
At this point in time, I think it’s likely that a real historical Jesus did live 2000 years ago and that there was a real man at the core of the gospel Jesus stories. But, the Jesus of the Gospels is myth. That is well known and obvious, and only fundamentalists would be in denial of that fact now. The Jesus depicted in the Bible indeed never existed. But a real itinerant Jewish apocalyptic preacher, about whom little that is reliable can now be known, probably did.
I don’t really care if a historical Jesus lived or not. If he did, he is long dead. Thinking about the issue is fun and interesting, but it’s sort of like debating about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is the more awesome science fiction franchise. I think it’s Star Trek quite clearly. I have been a hardcore Trekkie since I was 13 years old, but Star Wars is cool too.
We do know and can know very little, if anything, that is reliable about a real historical Jesus, if he did live. The Gospel stories about him are myth and show a great deal of mythical and legendary development, and they all were written decades after Jesus died by anonymous authors, and they were writing religious propaganda, not history. The Gospels are basically long religious tracts, sort of like a Chick tract today but without the cartoon illustrations.
Anyway, my 2 cents… The Jesus of the Gospels is a myth and Christianity is easy to debunk and disprove. So I’m not that worried about whether a real historical Jesus lived or not…