... he was absolutely zealous for his God and for the law. He could have been a very devout man to what he thought was right.....( tec )... Perhaps, still it remains a mystery to travel all the way to Damascus rooting out what Saul considered blasphemy. There was no shortage of Christians in and around Jerusalem for him to "persecute". He didn't have to leave Jerusalem, or the area, to do his business. Other than his "conversion" on the way, there's something about Damascus were not being told. I doubt it was a dangerous trip, he would have traveled a Roman garrisoned road on the way, no intrigue there.
... don't know why someone who made something up out of thin air (or even just grossly elaborated), would die or suffer or be imprisoned for something/someone they knew was a fraud....( tec )...Lets think about that a moment. Nothing was made up out of thin air, nor was there fraud involved, grossly elaborated, maybe. The theology of Christianity was a slow process, developed over a long period of time. Dying, or being harshly imprisoned for a belief, cause happens all the time. How many jw's have lost their lives, or the lives of loved ones over the blood issue alone? There was nothing new about what was being taught. It was simply "re-packaged". People got excited, even to the point of persecution and death, over the new package.
Midget, unshackled, Witness My Fury and Terra make some very valid points. Although I don't think Jesus was psychotic. He was, by the Gospel stories, as Terra so aptly points out, a man driven to achieve a goal. He is the back story needed to fill the void of an already developing belief system.
Shellby, the EARLY Ebionites already had a Jesus Christ and a Christian teaching in place before The Gospels, Jesus of said Gospels and the Apostles. How embarrassing for Paul and the early church that would have been. Could be where Mark got his "Q" document, out of that community.
PS, give us some examples from your book list. Should be interesting.