Recently for my local Secular Student Alliance (SSA) group I gave a talk about what we can know about the historical Jesus, and perhaps he was originally a non-historical figure made flesh. This proposition is not the least bit popular among academics, let alone Evangelicals, but it isn’t necessarily crazy either. You will find some comparing it to Holocaust denial or creationism, but the evidence that Jesus existed is nowhere near as strong as it is for evolution or the Nazi-led Holocaust. There is significant evidence for Jesus, prima facie, but things get hairy when you look again.
My talk was recorded and you can watch it now.
The basic points: the only independent sources we have about the life of Jesus are Christian, there is only one such source (the Gospel of Mark), and it is written in a way that is more fiction than anything else. There are also difficulties in understanding how a Galilean Jew went from nice bloke to god-made-flesh very early on as seen in the letters of Paul, and why the first Christians who followed a Roman criminal were not harassed by the pagan authorities early on as attested by Christian sources (namely, Acts). There is also the weird issue of why there were many that believed Jesus lived and died a century earlier than is the standard chronology; how did that happen? After these points, I get into the most plausible Jesus myth hypothesis (there are plenty of crappy ones) which can answer these problems, though it has its own hurdles.
What do you think is the best explanation?