Bad News and Good
I drifted away from this study over a year ago, because it was getting very hard to find the God I know amid all the theological rants of 'John'. I've got a longer love/hate relationship with that book than my similar relation to computers!
Somewhere in the intervening time, I read 1) several of NT Wright's series on Jesus ("Christian Origins and the Question of God") plus 2) The Secret Origins of the Bible, by Tim Callahan. Both efforts have been illuminating, though in different ways.
First of all, the Bad News. There's nothing "secret" about what Callahan has to say. Much of it has been known for a very long time; and what I really like about his book is his talent for clarifying how we know it, what evidence has led modern scholars to certainty, not just that "It ain't necessarily so" but that often it certainly ain't so at all!
Wright, on the contrary side, chews up a lot of what modern scholarship has "proven" via atheistic assumptions, and makes a good, long argument for an underlying story behind the Bible that turns out to be true, after all.
So I'll get this posted, and wait for the dust to settle in my poor mind... and see what more I can say... soon!