Originally Posted by wildflowers
I second the thanks for the book links. This is a topic I've meant to read up on, but haven't yet gotten around to. It's nice to have some ideas of places to start. If you have any more suggestions I'd love to hear them.
Well, go ahead and read all Elaine Pagels' books
everything by Bart Ehrman, starting with Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism
by John Spong (retired Anglican bishop)
Then read the entire New Annotated Oxford Bible
; it's full of essays, translates Hebrew and Greek properly, tons of footnotes, admits when we do not know the meaning of a Hebrew word, comments on Bibical writing styles, politics of ancient times, tribal customs, shows evidence of who wrote each book of the Bible when, etc etc.
Then read The Jesus Mysteries: Was the original Jesus a Pagan God?
by Freke and Gandy
Also I recommend The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity
by MacCoby, who proposed it was Paul that invented Christianity, not Jesus. After all, half the NT is attributed to Paul, and the books he didnt write that are attributed to him are evidence of his power and the respect he commanded.
I've read many other books on historical criticism, but those should hold you for a while.