That Jesus of Nazareth was a historical person can be proven indirectly on evidence from Flavius Josephus and Tacitus. That Jesus the Christ is a mytholigical hero is shown in "The Divine Christ: Christian Myths, Mysteries and Magic" in my book published on Kindle@Amazon.com, 2012. The evidence is too abundant in the Synoptics to ignore.
That Jesus of Nazareth was a historical person can proven indirectly based on evidence from Flavius Josephus and Tacitus. That Jesus the Christ was a mytholigical hero is shown in "The Divine Christ: Christian Myths, Mysteries and Magic" in my book published on Kindle@Amazon.com, 2012. The evidence is too abundant in the Synoptics to ignore.
What is very strange to me is that all these 'conflict theories' about the development of Christianity in the first two centuries CE are as devoid of factual basis as the theory they claim to refute. They are just more isogetical interpolations of a vast and tangled web of documents. These supposed 'battles' between the Gentile Christians and the Jerusalem Jesus Movement are themselves mythological. You can't say on the one hand that the documentary evidence does not prove Jesus exists and then turn around and say that it proves he did not exist.
The claim that Jesus was just a lie or a hoax is barely more credible than the claim that he rose from the dead. I don't believe he existed, but the first people who said he did, actually believed it.
Mike, you're pretty close to right, I'd say. John, Jesus and James were Nazirite Essenes, all saviors, who initiated into the "Word". Today it is called "Shabd" (www.RSSB.org) They didn't "expect the End", but knew it means "death". "Last days" are YOUR "last days" on earth. It all gets distorted by time, and corruption. Scholars don't help a whole lot either. I have dealt with more of them than I care to. They are all vested in their pet positions.
Jesusneverexisted.com exposes the lies that are used to support the hoax of a historical Jesus.
For a more developed reconstruction of Jesus traditions click on , the 23rd and last comment by Neil Godfrey. First read Ed Jones comment, the first part of Neil's comment.
Gentile Christianity gave us the Christ myth of orthodoxy.The Jerusalem Jesus Mvement, first led by the key disciples Peter, James and John, before Christianity and before the Gospels, gave us the real Jesus, its source being the earlist layer of the tradition. As winners in the struggle for dominance, Gentile Christianity could quite early label the Jesus Movement heresy to wipe it from the pages of history. We have its primary source only because Matthew, who had been a member of the Jesus Movement. included it in his gospel.
The secular critic adopts the very same bias as the Fundamentalist: the writings of the NT, the letters of Paul, the Gospels and the later writings of the NT are our primary Scriptural source of knowlege of the HJ, however different their conclusions derived from this false assumption Reimarus challenge: "search the Scriptures and see if Christianity was not based on an historical mistake. Over 200 rears of critical historical research forces the conclude that indeed it was: It was based on Gentilie Christianity rather than on the original Jerusalem Jesus Movement. Its apostolic source has been shown to be The Sermon on the Mount, picturing a completey different image of Jesus from that of the synoptic tradition and its Gentile-Christian redactors.
I think Steven is right. The evidence is too scrambled and distorted with age and intention to sort out the truth, so we have to find the best hypothesis. In my view, and many other realists, Jesus was historical, but he was a senior Essene. The scrolls say that when the End approaches (the apocalypse) the Essenes must try to bring into their fold as many righteous Jews as they can. The Essenes considered themselves as the righteous jews, so it meant finding Jews willing to join them in view of the impending day of God's Vengeance. To do so, they had to repent with sincerity and not sin until the kingdom came (the apocalyse again). So Essenes had to go out as evangelists proselytizing ordinary Jews. The leading Jews were highly conscious of the uncleanliness of the unrighteous mass, but they were required to be humble, so the duty of proselytizing fell upon the senior Essenes above all. The gospels are versions of the attempt of the leaders, John the Baptist, Jesus and then James the Righteous, with Jesus central, to convert Jews to their cause. Jesus plainly expected the End when he and his apostles were in the Garden of Gethsemane. The End did not come, and Jesus was crucified as a usurper of the emperor's right to rule. Essenes removed his body for a decent burial according to essenic tradition, but the followers, converts, not lifelong Essenes, thought he had arisen. Thus began Christianity. This reconstruction has the advantage of accounting for the data without requiring God's intervention.
Surely the Jesus story is a retelling of all the previous stories told by solar religions, in that it's a veiled allegory of the zodiac. My own feeling is that organized religions are, in one political sense, basically just a means of crowd control, and in another sense, a re-presentation of basic truths dressed up for a particular nationality. At base, all religions are essentially the same information.
I don't see how anyone can take the Christ myth idea seriously. It's the equivalent of denying global warming or the holocaust. I've heard notable atheists try and argue this in debates and get absolutely smashed. For example, Dan Barker started by arguing your answer (c) above. By the end of it his argument had changed to "well maybe he was a real person, but you Christians should be accepting maybe 70-80% not 100% of what the gospels say!"
Your options seem to exclude "soft" mythicism: that Jesus may have, or probably, existed, but that he bears little or no relevance to the later myth of Christ. This position is hardly "between" mythicism and historicism, just "hard" mythicism and historicism. Since we do finally have primary evidence for his existence--the Talpiot "Jesus family" tomb--I must side with this camp.
I had to vote 'myth' as I've just published a book about the evidence of fifteen years research. My book also contains the startling truth about Abraham and Moses as well as the true source of the monotheistic religions in Egypt. My book is called The Greatest Lie Ever Told, for very obvious reasons!
A fourth option is that there might have been a person/persons who adventures and teachings the compilers of the Gospels copied. That said these individuals, if they existed, have become lost to history and all we have left if the fictional/literary Character Jesus Christ.