The blog Synoptic Solutions, at the end of a post on the tradition history of the story about the stilling of the storm, shared these thoughts relevant to the topic of mythicism, which I thought deserve attention and discussion:
He most closely resembles one of the tannaim, the rabbinic scholars and holy men of the Talmud and related texts. The Jesus of the Signs Gospel is thoroughly Jewish.
But are the rabbis of the Talmud mythical? One might try to make a case for this rabbi or that one, but the general assumption is that these were real personages, even if they did not perform the miracles attributed to them. Instead, their acts of holiness were later augmented into miracles. No one tries to argue they are legendary just because, for example, they did not appear in contemporary historical works (like those of Josephus and Tacitus). Why should we not make the same assumptions about Jesus? In the Signs Gospel, Jesus is not being portrayed as a god on earth. Instead, he is portrayed as very human–a miraculous human, but a human nonetheless. Like the rabbis, he is not quite historical, yet he is not mythical, either. Instead, he is legendary.
And so I propose that this is the correct model for understanding the historical Jesus. He is a legendary figure–but that does not mean he is an imaginary figure. Indeed, it means just the opposite: it means that he was most certainly historical. It’s just that he has been surrounded by a legendary aura, like so many other historical figures. To be sure, Jesus would eventually pick up a mythical aura, once Mark identified him with Paul’s Christ and especially after the canonical redactors made sure the gospels conformed to an Incarnationalist theology. But the rabbis of legend were not by and large imaginary; they were very real, even if many or most of the details we have about them are legendary. Just so should we assume that the Jesus of legend is not imaginary; he was very real. The fact that his miracles may or may not have been historical doesn’t alter the historicity of his existence (because, they don’t alter the historicity of the rabbis’ existence).