There is an interesting parallel between the situation of those arguing for the inerrancy of the Bible and that of “mythicists”, i.e. those who argue that Jesus was originally thought of as a heavenly figure, one who was later then turned into an allegedly historical figure.
The case for inerrancy has to be able to demonstrate that every single factual claim made in the Bible is without error. The case for errancy, by contrast, has only to demonstrate conclusively that there is a single error.
The situation for mythicists is similar. They must show that all the stories about, sayings attributed to and evidence about Jesus is best explained in terms of his never having existed as a historical figure. The historicist, on the other hand, only has to show decisively that one event in the life of Jesus makes best sense if Jesus was in fact a historical figure, and that makes the case for there having been such a figure more probable. The evidence amassed by mythicists may require us to conclude that some or even much of the stories about Jesus were concocted later, but it only takes one piece of evidence that makes the best sense if there was a historical Jesus, for us to conclude that they were concocting sayings of and stories about a historical figure. Richard Carrier’s example (used in the podcast below) of the guards at the tomb in Matthew is a case in point – that story is clearly a creation by Matthew, or someone between the time Mark wrote and the time in which Matthew was composed. It is patently unhistorical, but that doesn’t show it to be an unhistorical narrative about the burial of a mythical figure.
Carrier (a mythicist) has some wise advice for mythicists on how to make the case for mythicism. I don’t find his viewpoint persuasive, but it deserves to be heard and considered seriously in a way that some pseudo-historical claims, popular among so-called skeptics prone to engaging in parallelomania, do not (HT Tom Verenna).
If nothing else, the podcast has one of the most striking puns I’ve heard in connection with this subject, when Carrier refers to the Romans trying to “nail down” what actually happened with respect to Jesus. I don’t know if that was intentional. But I find it problematic when Carrier claims that the Romans must have known that Jesus did not exist, since otherwise they would have rounded up the followers of Jesus. Paul himself claims that Jesus was descended from David according to the flesh, and there is a reasonable likelihood that Paul may indeed have been executed by the Romans. Why do Roman sources (Tacitus or the letters of Pliny) not mention that this movement is seeking to historicize a mythical figure? How is it that, in all the history of Roman opposition to Christianity, the non-existence of Jesus never gets a mention?