- What is there in the gospels that contradicts my story about what that person was promoting?
Does this not rest on the same thesis as Crossan – that it's all metaphor? In which case, I'd look at the critiques of Crossan's thesis for your answer.
The Jesus at the heart of the Gospels is in many ways a timeless character. The Message is Universal. The Revelations are, despite what many like to claim, unique and particular.
Apart from the fact that the texts place Him in a certain place, at a certain time, His appearance, His brief public ministry and His departure, whilst being framed in a contemporary narratives, simultaneously escapes them.
In short, nothing about Him historically, can be nailed down as certain, other than He – who or whatever He may be – existed. (But then again, the same can be said for a vast number of historical personages. If we had to dismiss Jesus as perhaps not existing at all, then a swathe of very famous historical persons would also disappear because their existence rests on less data than what we know and have about Jesus).
Here's the thing: This is from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy:
'The philosopher Socrates (469–399 BCE) is an enigmatic individual who, despite having written nothing
, is considered one of the handful of philosophers who forever changed how philosophy itself was to be conceived.'
'All our information about him is second-hand and most of it vigorously disputed, but his trial and death at the hands of the Athenian democracy is nevertheless the founding myth of the academic discipline of philosophy, and his influence has been felt far beyond philosophy itself, and in every age.'
'So thorny is the difficulty of distinguishing the historical Socrates from the Socrateses of the authors of the texts in which he appears and, moreover, from the Socrateses of scores of later interpreters, that the whole contested issue is generally referred to as the Socratic problem
(-- And here's the bit I really like –– )
'Each age, each intellectual turn, produces a Socrates of its own. "The 'real' Socrates (read: historical Jesus) we have not: what we have is a set of interpretations each of which represents a 'theoretically possible' Socrates".'
That quote is from a scholar of the Greek philosophical schools, Cornelia de Vogel (The Present State of the Socratic Problem).
Attempts to offer a 'historical Jesus' are not really an objective interpretation of the texts, they're a subjective version that will always render a Jesus that reflects our contemporary issues, rather than the issues He faced in His day.
Why is there so little reliable historical detail about Jesus?
Maybe that's the point?