Many people have pointed out the limitations of these endless attempts to recast Jesus in light of what scholars think they can discover behind the New Testament, the so-called gnostic gospels, and other early texts, but these caveats do not reach the typical person who is either 1) reading about the books in the media or 2) actually reading them because (sigh) they have been recommended by their church leaders. We have an entire generation of churchgoing people who have been robbed of faith in Christ by these misbegotten searches for a "historical" Jesus.
It must be stated as clearly as possible: we do not have access to "the historical Jesus." Every single one of these attempts to discover the historical person behind the New Testament text is doomed from the start. All that is known of Jesus is in the New Testament, which was written by faith for faith. In that sense the entire Bible is indeed a unique document, because it simply does not yield its mysteries except to those who receive it in faith.
Read it all.
As I've noted in a previous posting entitled "Jesus Trumps the Bible," the Rev. Rutledge has made similar points before with respect to Jesus Seminar fellow Marcus Borg's false dichotomy between the "pre-Easter Jesus" and the "post-Easter Jesus." Here's part of what she wrote about that:
... this often-heard distinction is based on a false assumption. We have no access to the pre-Easter Jesus. Every single word of testimony to him in the New Testament is refracted through the Resurrection. Therefore, any attempt to reconstruct a Jesus before anyone knew he would be raised from the dead are doomed to fail, because such projects, again, will always reflect the personal agenda of the interpreter.
Like it or not, therefore, we must rely upon the Scripture as our only witness to Jesus. There is no other witness.
It is a rich irony that those who seek to usurp the authority of Scripture by painting a portrait of Jesus at odds with the Church's proclamation are forced to tacitly acknowledge Scripture's authoritative witness by citing New Testament texts among their principal sources.