I recently watched the movie Religulous with a group of friends. In the movie, Bill Maher essentially goes to every major world religion(Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and some minor(Scientology, Mormonism) and in regards to Christianity asks some really great questions about faith, Scripture and theology since he spends the majority of his film dissecting Christian belief and practice. I'd recommend the film if he was actually looking for answers and dialogue, but you get the idea through the movie that he's just trying to make people look stupid and be sacrilegious. There's some objectionable material also which is pretty tasteless in its function.
In the movie he makes mention of the parallel accounts of his day between the life of Jesus and the life of Mithra (who was born of a virgin) and Horus(who, according to Maher is a carbon-copy of the major events that take place in Jesus' life) and posits the idea that the account of Jesus was taken from these stories and fit into it's own copycat religion.
Since I'm nowhere close to a religious library and can't really research this for myself, I figured I'd pose the question to those on Naznet who might have looked into this subject.
What would be a legitimate response to the claim that Bill Maher and others make as to whether the account of Jesus is fictional or not? I'm not going to deny that there's cultural conditioning within the text but saying it's all made up is a conclusion that I have a very gut-deep reaction against.
My initial thought would be that it is some kind of missional statement, promoting Jesus as Messiah and Christ while making connecting points of entry for those in other religions of the day to find Christianity legitimate. Also, since the NT authors heavily quote the OT in support of the events in the life of Jesus it would be demonstration that while these other religions have partial claims of what divinity is(virgin birth, miracles, resurrection from the dead) only in the OT are these signs expected and then brought into fulfillment in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
That initial thought could be way off. I'd welcome any thoughts or ideas.