Lifted straight from the apologists' list of tiresome and false arguments.outhouse wrote: A fictional story would not place their hero in front of half a million people at Passover dying an embarrassing death within a few years of the story breaking where it could be refuted.
The Passover time of death was entirely symbolic. There is no evidence to indicate otherwise.
The death was not embarrassing at all: it was a noble death, the hero epitomizing the best in classical and Jewish values, in the tradition of Prometheus, Achilles, Socrates, Horatius, the prophets, the Maccabees. The death was vindicated by the resurrection -- to focus on the "embarrassment of the death" is to suggest they were preaching death while forgetting the other half the story. Nonsense. If Paul said the death was a scandal, ancients also said Socrates' death was a travesty that should never have happened, but the point was that Socrates, as Jesus later, demonstrated ideal godly or philosophical attitudes to death and were vindicated. It's a GREAT and very common heroic and inspiring story -- not a stupid one at all. The story never fails to win converts, even today.
The theoretical possibility of refuting a story never stopped a fiction spreading. People believe what they want to believe and shout down the gainsayers. We see this repeatedly throughout history.