Was Jesus real? If so, how real was He? Should that be "he" with a lower-case "h"? ;-)
The overwhelming majority of people who call themselves "Christian" believe that Jesus existed, but just how much that real Jesus is accurately reflected in the Gospels is under debate, even among Christians. For example, many Republican Christians don't seem to believe that Jesus promoted living in poverty and private prayers. ;-)
Sabio Lantz created a wonderful diagram for a post called "How Do You View the Bible's Jesus?" which splits out four different types of standpoints people take (see his posts and the chart below) when defining their view of Jesus, either in part or in whole. And then he went a step further, showed his own proportional viewpoint, and offered to make you your very own Jesus pie for free(!) in his subsequent post "The Jesus Pie: Offer & Challenge."
I like pie. So that was an offer too good to refuse! Here's mine:
Awesome, huh? Many thanks to Sabio!
So this is what I think my view is now. I presently hold the opinion that just over half of the content of the Gospels is at least seeded from some real Jesus doing and saying real things... which then got mythologized, spiritualized, and symbolized to the point of not resembling reality by the time that the Gospels were written.
But I could be wrong, even about what I think I think. There was a challenge with that offer: basically... prove it! I am presently writing a summary of Mark, and so yesterday I scored up each the verses based on the four categories as I read Mark 8. Here is what I got:
Will this prove to be more reflective of my true view of the Gospels' credibility, or is this just a little statistical blip which shows up because of the non-homogeneous nature of the stories in the Gospels? Time will tell, and I can't wait to find out!