The question of Jesus is so confused that as we stand back we realize something strange: perhaps it was deliberate in that sense. The whole onset of Christianity seems shrouded in mystery, if not mystery mongering. Very rapidly the core legacy, myth or fact, took on a life of its own. It created is own myth as it went along.
If we stand back and consider this we see that it suggests that a core historical set of incidents must have been real but the envelope around it comes much later. This has been said before, but our point here is different: we look at the contrast of believers and secular critics. But there is a third range of possibilities: secularists who suspect a spiritual (quote, unquote) realm but one that is not the Santa Claus version we assume.
The onset of Christianity is thus a mysterious spiritual operation that is generating a starting point followed by a directed/self-created religion in its wake. This is not quite the ‘esoterics’ did it version. It is about spiritual powers unknown to us operating via proxies, and Jesus was perhaps one of them, but…
The point here is that the gospels are obscure, but suggest one solution (let me interject that I have drawerful of such theories): the operation barely shows us Jesus at all. And his mission is almost over before it started. He is disposed of quickly so the operation can move rapidly to create a myth out of the rough sketch of facts. It is a clever strategy, by a hidden director or directors. It is an occult operation thus, a point lost on secularists, and not much better understood by Christians who take up the myth with considerable alacrity, in the context of the Roman Empire….
So it doesn’t matter if Jesus existed: the larger operation moved so fast that by the time cult emerged into history the myth was in place with so much disinfo the whole game was indecipherable. To me, without scientific proof, it nonetheless seems reasonable that a ‘Jesus’ figure existed, but it is a highly fuzzy person thus. However, the core tale in the Gospels stripped of its inventions is reasonable enough: the tale of a spiritual teacher ambiguously a radical pacifist, or a zealot, or self-proclaimed ‘messiah’, getting in trouble with the Romans. We can’t resolve this myth set, but its core is not unreasonable.
The full drama is about more than Jesus: it is a triple play with John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul. And this makes the core issue of fact more likely, even as the facts are doctored. It is a story whose key has been lost. What exactly was the teaching of John the Baptist? And who was he? And Paul begins to crystallize the remarkable game at its endpoint entering the historical.
The tale of the three magi gives the game away, the more convincing for being transmitted by people who didn’t understand it: they wouldn’t really make it all up because it meant something else, we see now, and they didn’t know that. That triplet of ‘magi’ shows a hint to the lost saga of three ‘savior’ figures, the last of whom we feel confident existed. It is a rumor among sufis that this triple action of three sages is real, or so it seems. The historical version thus gets a question mark, and a new set of questions.
This must thus be both a secular account and a spiritual account. The two are not contradictory, however problematical the term ‘spiritual’. We are moving to a new form of post-religion in the wake of monotheism, and the mystery of the unknown spiritual powers behind Christianity (and Islam, no doubt) is a enquiry for the future.
This kind of explanation is in flux for me, almost dime a dozen, on the way to real facts or deeper understandings. But obviously the form we have received as the religion called ‘Christianity’ doesn’t make any sense. This approach begins to make sense of what happened, and the initial point is one thing on the way to man’s self-creation of religion from a generated mystery at the beginning. It is pretty hard to close the case here on anything.
I would recommend looking at my Enigma of the Axial Age: https://www.dropbox.com/home/Public/XML_DARW_GC_Axial?preview=Enigma_of_the_Axial_Age_pdf2_2016.pdf