As I see it the Bible is a straightforward narrative that in a mixture of history and fiction that has been further complicated by the addition of a deity or three.
Magicmiles explanations are laudable and, to an extent, probable if one accepts that there was someone there taking all this down on his iPad whilst other people noted their observations at various other points in the life of Christ.
The fact is that there was never anyone there who later wrote of it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Bible#General_epistles
The assumption is that because literacy was low but the need for entertainment was high, the tradition was oral. This means that “Oh yes, they all went off to some place and then Judas and the mob found him.” eventually gets translated into many words expressing the solemnity and noble divinity of the episode and also bits are added to fall in line with the OT. This is how we got stories of old of great heroes and is why we have Superman today.
When it became clear that the stories, increasing in fictional content, were popular, some scribes would turn a shekel by writing them out or some rich man would employ a scribe to collect and write them down for him.
Like episodes of a TV series, the scriptlines become increasingly unlikely, until the “Jumping the Shark” moment occurs and a halt is called and the whole story reviewed and toned down. (Remember the pseudographia? That was what didn’t make the directors’ cut.)
The unfortunate thing was that all these scribes and story tellers never had a conference at which the “real story” was hammered out. You can imagine why:A: “And Jesus turned him from being a donkey into a man again…”
B: “Bollocks, no one will believe that! Who told you that? Are you stupid? He did walk on water though…”
C: “Walk on water? You can do that, can you? A man can walk on water? How’s that going to work? Look, He just made people who were dead come alive again and he did it a couple of time. Can we accept that as a starting point?
D: “I hadn’t heard that. I always say that he was born of a virgin…”
B: “God! If I hear that again I’ll stab you! We all of us say that… except Ananias there who says “he just appeared one day aged about 30.” And Ananias is an idiot.”
C: “Look, we’re getting nowhere. These Gospels won’t write themselves! What say we all write down some bulletpoints and then present them tomorrow and we’ll vote on them?”
If there were any truth in these stories, we would expect to see many references from the time from the Romans and the Jews – we don’t have them. And the conference did not occur until the Council of Nicaea (from which the above is taken verbatim.)
Does it not seem more likely that Jesus is some mythical figure, like Robin Hood, who is the archetypical hero upon whom all wisdom and healing is bestowed to represent a fairer, juster society? And that all the NT is a collection of these stories.