Even fabricated material may provide a true sense of the gist of what Jesus was about, however inauthentic it may be as far as the specific details are concerned.
(From a scholarly review of a chapter of a book discussing historical methodology)
In a discussion of a Wikipedia article on Historical Method:
Is there anything in the method outlined there (or better yet in the books cited if readers know them well or have time to consult them) that is not in keeping with the practices of historians working on the historical figure of Jesus? Or is there any point at which this survey and summary (or the method set forth in the sources the article cites) is at odds with what most historians do?
I ask because mythicists regularly claim that what scholars investigating the historical Jesus do is different from what mainstream historical study does.
In those books cited in that Wikipedia article, and that are appealed to in order demonstrate that biblical historians use the same methods as nonbiblical historians, appear gems like the following:
The author of a historical source may be God, as well as man. Hence the distinction between divine and human sources.
The procedure of critics who reject the possibility of miracles is manifestly unscientific.
I know of course that most mainstream biblical historians do not openly admit to the supernatural when dealing with historical inquiry, but the fact that an associate professor of religion is blithely confident enough to make such a claim about books he obviously has never read and only thinks he understands demonstrates just how out of touch some biblical scholars are with the historiography outside their own ivory tower. This was a key point in Scot McKnight’s chapter on historiography in his Death of Jesus, and which I discuss in relation to key names in nonbiblical historiography that he sees as relevant for biblical scholars. The scholar who refuses to address this is the one who responded with the ignorant remark about sources for methodology on the Wikipedia article.
(I know I know. Someone said this is like shooting fish in a barrel with a shotgun. Let’s move on.)
Oh, just one more. . . .
I’ve tried being reasonable and respectful
Agreed, he is very trying