Fictional books claim to be fictional books.
This is true in case of the Lord of the Rings analogy. Eventhough I didn't mean the Frodo comment in that way, but I'll blame myself for not being clear in what I meant there.
However, Hercules was not considered or claimed to be fictional. Xenu, the intergalactic emperor, is not considered or claimed to be fictional.
The thing is, people writing things saying 'X person existed and did this' is the only evidence for most figures in ancient history. If they ruled an empire, or wrote a bunch of books, then we might have more (but not always). Demanding stricter evidence leads us to conclude that most historical figures from the time probably didn't exist, which is a bit silly.
I can agree to that, and I can imagine enough examples from ancient greek philosophers.
And I admit that I demand stricter evidence of the jezus claims.
The reason being that jezus is the central subject of a religion with a whole bunch of supernatural baggage.
Suppose we have 2 ancient greek texts who each claim a person existed. One text says that the person in question was a pot and lists a few of his contributions. The other says that the person in question is a son of god who personally destroyed a wicked city with his firey breath and preached peace.
I don't know about you, but when I look at such things, I lend more credence to the historicity of the first claim rather then the second. The extra baggage just puts a whole shadow on the entire thing. I'ld require more evidence of the latter to make it on par with the first.
That's my point... The people who wrote these books were religious people who believed that jezus was a messiah and son of god. Because of this, I feel that their message is tainted with bias.
Personally, and to be blunt, I don't give a rat's ass if it's based on a real person or not. To me, it doesn't change anything at all. I just don't consider a religious text to be demonstrative of anything at all if the religious text is all there is.
A good biblical example would be Pontius Pilate. I accept his historicity. For the simple reason that we have extra-biblical references of this person.
Do we have a clear historitcal setting for them, or are they placed in a vague and undefined distant past. Is there evidence that we would expect to have been left by such a figure? Do they fit their time and place? Are there aspects of the story which we wouldn't expect to be made up?
The existence of a character like Jesus can only be framed in such tentative terms, and this is the sort of thing which needs to be discussed to decide whether existence or non-existence is more likely.
This seems reasonable. But I'm not sure if I agree.
Looking at the questions you ask... it seems to me that almost any fictional story that plays out in the "now" and isn't marked as fictional would, according to those parameters, be indistinguishable from a real one.
I mean, it's also very reasonable to assume that the one who writes a story about jezus would write it in such a manner that it would fit the timeframe he was placed in, no?
Also, if we are being honest about this, if we would ask your questions in context of the actual
biblical texts, then the answer is clearly: no, it's NOT likely that he existed.
Because virgin births, miracles, resurections etc never happen.
Don't forget that in order to discuss the historical jezus, christians are allready trown quite a huge bone by leaving out all the supernatural stuff in an effort to make the stories sound even remotely possible...
So I don't consider it very unreasonable to demand stricter evidence then for claims where you don't need to ignore 70% of the content of the claim in order to make it even discussable.