The original version of post-Enlightenment Jesus mythicism really took off in late-Victorian Britain, around the same time as Theosophy and the Society for Psychical Research took off.
First, it wasn't just Jesus mythicism; Buddha mythicism and Zoroaster mythicism were also in the air. (Wiki's article fails to mention that, sadly.)
In my opinion, it was an attempt to "spiritualize" all three religions at precisely the same time Theosophy and psychic beliefs were in the rise. Especially given that Theosophy was connected to both Buddhism and Christianity, this makes some sort of sense.
Hinduism wouldn't be eligible for spiritualizing. The British who had the Raj in India, with stereotyping their "wogs" and seeing the all-too-anthropomorphic gods of Hinduism, would have said ixnay on that.
And Judaism? Well, the "genteel" anti-Semitism of late Victorian England would put the kibosh on that.
That said, it was an idea with a positive goal, was Jesus mythicism.
Today? It seems to be little more than an evangelistic vehicle for Gnu Atheism and as such, worth about as much.
Let's look at the leading intellectual lights.
Price (His homepage, and for others)?
First, as this rant on Facebook, an anti-Obama screed, shows, academic skills in Biblical criticism certainly don't translate across borders. (Note: Price normally posts to Facebook as "public," not "friends" or "friends of friends," therefore, I am not revealing any private confidences.)
A mix of that and commenting on a Facebook site about "American White History Month" (and not even the first such site!) would indicate that, if not a full-out racist, Price is at least that genteel, pseudo-scientific creature, the racialist.
It's all part of what I call Christianism as a parallel to Islamism, or what Wiki labels Christian atheism.
He teaches at a seminary named for a leader of the African-American wing of the New Thought movement. This is school accredited only by an organization that accredits diploma mills. Think of a black version of Unity, and that's where he teaches. At a minimum, doubly ironic for teaching at a metaphysics-dripping seminary, and a black one to boot. At a maximum, doubly hypocritical. (That said, I wonder if the folks at Johnnie Coleman know about all aspects of his personality.)
Add to it that Price believed a cock-and-bull story about an ancient statue indicates he could be a "movement atheist," an activist, even if not a Gnu, per my observation a few paragraphs above.
That leads me to D.M. Murdock, aka Acharya.
She was an original peddler of this nonsense; I say it via Gnu Atheist thought leader P.Z. Myers favorably touting it. She has no bachelor's level degree in religion, let alone a graduate degree. As Murdock's Wiki page notes, she is 10 times more credulous a peddler of bad puns than was the Yahwist section author of the Torah.
Her listing of her academic background on her website seems precisely done to cover actual thinness. Take being a "trench master" on an archaeology dig. Nice, yes, but, unless at a major new dig, it's more grunt work than intellectual work. (As a kid, I watched my dad assist as a certified amateur archaeologist at a couple of Anazasi digs, so this observation isn't out of life.) Plus, note that this work is all at classical sites. No Biblical archaeology from you!
Some denialists like to bash her, but Price and Eisenman are among those who give her touts on her website.
Carrier? He's proof positive of Mark Twain's bon mot about "lies, damn lies and statistics." Claiming that Bayesian probability allows him to estimate the most likely historicity odds of Jesus as 0.008 percent is horse hockey. And, yes, he really makes that claim; click the link. There's simply not enough information from history of 2,000 years ago to have anywhere near that degree of precision, above all else. It's horse hockey for other reasons, too. Overall, it's clear that Carrier is "cooking" his Bayesian books to claim such pseudo-precise "precision."
Click the 0.008 link. It will explain how Carrier tries to put numbers on his prior and consequent probabilities. I first saw this on another blog, a person who actually, though not a mythicist himself, took Carrier seriously.
Related? On his own website, at this link showing how to work with Bayesian probabilities, Carrier essentially admits to something like book-cooking. I quote:
You can use the following calculator to run any standard two-hypothesis Bayesian equation (up to a limit of 1 in 100 odds on any variable, and accurate to only two decimal places).
Now, within his first book, I'm sure he claims to have a more precise use of Bayesian stats, but ... that itself might be part of the book-cooking.
Beyond that, Bayesian probabilities are, in general, more subjective than Carrier tries to portray. And, trying to present them as more objective than they are is another part of the book-cooking.
Carrier does have a Ph.D. in ancient history, so he's ahead of Murdock and at Price's academic level. However, in six years since obtaining that Ph.D., he has held no academic position, not even as an adjunct. His listing of such things as "instructor" at Partners for Secular Activism or "visiting lecturer" at Center for Inquiry Institute don't count, of course.
And, having an eight-page CV, like spinning one volume into two on Bayesian analysis of Jesus' historicity, is blathering up there with Murdoch, especially when it lists publications in non-peer review, non-technical journals. As for the amount of blathering? His surprises me not one whit, not considering the vomitorium of words he spills out at times at Freethought Blogs. And, he, like Murdoch, knows neither Hebrew, nor Aramaic, nor Syriac.
Beyond that, Carrier has what I can only call a willfully perverse methodology of interpreting Bible passages. Click this link for more.
Atwill has not even a bachelor's degree in theology, biblical studies or ancient history. And, the idea that Rome invented Jesus for Jewish crowd control is laughable to anybody who knows ancient history in general or the Roman Empire in particular.
The one person with seemingly a more impeccable academic background is Eisenman. But, he's gone beyond the point of credibility on his take on the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially his refusal to accept carbon dating evidence and other manners scientific. All he is proof for is that it's a good idea to wait until after one gets tenure to propose truly weird ideas. A decade or more ago, I wouldn't have lumped him in with the mythicists, but now I will, at least the narrower mythicists, and perhaps the full-blown denialists.
I have a "professional" M.Div. degree. It's a "terminal" degree in that, in most academic systems, I would have had to gotten a second master's before a Ph.D. But, I'll put it ahead of a Baptist Ph.D. on academic rigor, let alone one from a fundamentalist bible college.
My undergraduate degree was classical languages, and I read Hebrew there, too. I took a short course in Aramaic in seminary as well. That puts me ahead of all but Price (I think; maybe he never read Hebrew, either), and Eisenman. I've also taken both academic courses and independent study on historical-critical methodology, which applies to all ancient literature with a clear, diachronic development history, not just biblical literature. That puts me ahead of all but Price, Carrier and Eisenman, with Carrier either not learning much of it in his antiquities study or else deliberately ignoring it. And, it puts me well ahead of most denialists' fanboy flag-wavers.
Beyond that, most Jesus denialists, like most "denialists" in general, are to some degree, at least, conspiracy theorists, with the mindset that entails.
Mythicists in the broad sense G.R.S. Mead and G.A. Wells I separate from the Jesus denialists in one sense. Their general claim is that Jesus is a composite character, but has perhaps some historic personage behind him. They're also less conspiratorially minded than denialists. But, they too generally lack academic credentials.
That all said, many of the arguments of the denialists can be turned on their heads.
First, even with a brief period of evangelism, Judaism in the eastern Mediterranean was smaller than non-Jewish Hellenism by far. The argument from silence from 1st-2nd century CE pagans means little. There's other Jewish people and events they're also silent about. Did Rabbi Akiva also not exist?
Second, as noted, arguments about the critical development of Christian scriptures applies to the Homeric corpus and other things.
That's just some short notes, in the end, here. Other priniciples of Biblical criticism apply to some degree to study of antiquities in general, and some of the denialists' arguments besides that from science can be turned on their head.
So, while I don't totally agree with a Bart Ehrman, and would give more credence to the "soft mythicism" of the likes of Mead and Wells than he might, I'm definitely with him much more than I am his Gnu Atheist attackers like Carrier.