Dr. Richard Carrier, Proving History, Chapter 1
All experts agree the Jesus of the Bible is buried in myth and legend. But attempts to ascertain the "real" historical Jesus have ended in confusion and failure. The latest attemtp to cobble together a method for teaing out the truth involved developing a set of criteria.
But it has since been demonstrated that all those criteria, as well as the whole method of their employment, are fatally flawed. Every expert who has seriously examined the issue has already come to this conclusion. In the words of Gerd Theissen, "There are no reliable criteria for separating authentic from inauthentic Jesus tradition."
Stanley Porter agrees. Dale Allison likewise concludes, "these criteria themselves are seriously defective" and "cannot do what is claimed for them." The growing consensus now is that this entire quest for criteria has failed. The entire field of Jesus studies has thus been left without any valid method."
The quest for the historical Jesus has failed spectacularly. Several times. Historians now even count the number of times. With the latest quest (numbered "the third") and its introduction of criteria, the concept of Jesus we're supposed to belive existed is actually getting more confused and uncertain the more scholars study it, rather than the other way around.
CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE
Progress is supposed to increase knowledge and consensus and sharpen the picture of what happened (or what we don't know), not the reverse. Instead, Jesus scholars continue multiplying contradictory pictures of Jesus, rather than narrowing them down and increasing their clarity - or at least reaching a consensus on the scale and scope of our uncertainty and ignorance. More importantly, the many contradictory versions of Jesus now confidently touted by different Jesus scholars are all so very plausible - yet not all can be true. IN fact, as only one can be (and that at most), almost all must be false.