::I would be willing to grant you that there was an actual person named
::Jesus who was crucified in Palestine...
Robert Sheaffer (and others) would question whether he was
crucified; he may have been stoned to death and hung from a tree, as
some apocryphal traditions, such as the _Toldoth Yeshu_, describe.
There is one strong support of a curious sort:
JC's mother, Mary is described as a hairdresser in these
traditions, and "Mary the Hairdresser" in Hebrew sounds a lot like
"Mary Magdalene". Unless _Miriam_ (Hebrew for "Mary") was a common
Judean woman's name in the time of the Roman Empire, the occurrence of
two Maries so close together is a curious coincidence. Mary Magdalene
being a fallen woman would correspond to what would have happened to
JC's mother if she had really had an illegitimate child.
These traditions state that JC's father was not Joseph at all,
but a Roman soldier named Panthera (Pantera, Pandira). There is even
the tomb of a Roman soldier named Panthera in Sidon. The Virgin Birth
would have been invented as a coverup of JC's embarrassing paternity.
But as Randel Helms notes, some early Christians considered the idea
of divine paternity suspiciously pagan, something like all of Zeus's
love affairs. BTW, I have discovered an ancient version of my "Father
Zeus" joke. A foreigner arriving in Athens asks why so many Athenians
use the exclamation "By Zeus!" The answer: "Because so many of us are."