How does one extract reliable History from the surviving documentary evidence available to reconstruct the Historical figure of Jesus?
A "reliable history" sounds like a bit of a contradiction in terms to me, to be honest - although I suppose those interested in this field are actually referring to the kind of reliablity that derives from the theoretical/assumptive framework utilised along the way.
I have a passing query which you might answer for me though. Ramoss posted upthread that the gospel of Mark was "probably" (according to one view I gather) written post-AD70 due to there being references at Mark 13 to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem - which actually occurred in AD 70.
Is that an example of the way in which textual criticism is carried out? That is, is it the case that Jesus' being reported as remarking on future temple destruction would be taken as evidence for dating the gospel of Mark post-AD70?
It is a presupposition based on our twenty-first-century understanding of the Universe and its observed modes of operation. As we do not observe those miraculous events described in the religious literature of antiquity ocurring now, I see no rational or empirical reason to conclude they have occurred in the past.
This is weak, Grizz.
Firstly, the nature of miracles (as reported in the Bible at least) doesn't lend itself to empirical research. Miracles, as reported, seem to have been sporadic and unpredictable in terms of their happening. How so empirical investigation of the sporadic and unpredictable (other than to negate the claims of so-called miracle workers claiming a mode of miracle-operation other than reported)?
Secondly. If miracles occurred it is not unreasonable to suppose they occurred for a reason. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that if the reason for their occurring (as reported in the past) is past, then so too the miracles themselves.
This is kindergaarten stuff, Grizz.
It seems you are broad-brushstroking your way through the simplest of objections so as make way for the philosophy-of-history-script you have in mind. I've no issue with that in itself - I'm sure there is a whole world of activity dedicated to ploughing this particular furrow and your posts are nothing if not well assembled.
But let's not pretend a spade is other than a spade huh? History is what happened. Stories are everything else. Yours included.