I'd like to highlight a different part of Hurtado's article:
Let’s track backward chronologically through some of the various prior appearances of this particular zombie. We can start with Jesus and the Zealots: A Study of the Political Factor in Primitive Christianity, by S.G. F. Brandon (Manchester University Press, 1967). Brandon was a respected scholar and presented what is still probably the best scholarly attempt to proffer the idea that Jesus was (or aspired to be) a political revolutionary.
A few years earlier, there was the more “popular” oriented book by Joel Carmichael, The Death of Jesus (1963), which even made it into a Penguin edition (1966) and was translated into German (1965) and French (1964).
A few decades earlier, we have the works by Robert Eisler, e.g., The Messiah Jesus and John the Baptist (New York: Dial Press, 1931).
But the “granddaddy”-predecessor of them all, perhaps, was the 18th century figure, Hermann Samuel Reimarus, whose manuscript on Jesus as failed revolutionary lay unpublished for a number of years until Lessing discovered it. English translations of a couple of Reimarus’ works = Reimarus: Fragments, ed. C. H. Talbert, trans. R. S. Fraser (Fortress Press, 1970); and* The Goal of Jesus and his Disciples*, trans. with introduction by G. W. Buchannan (Brill, 1970).
Craig Evans in his own review (see my last post) also pointed out S.G.F. Brandon's study, admitting that it is "the ablest presentation of this line of interpretation." However at the same time he noted that "[f]ew followed Brandon then; virtually no one does today. I doubt very much Aslan’s fresh take on it will win a following—at least not among scholars."
Now Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) is one of those people who will appear on any textbook about historical Jesus studies: people (especially those with a conservative bent) may - would - disagree with much of his theses, but he was one of those who paved the way for modern historical Jesus research.
Reimarus, as a staunch Deist, attempted to apply the 'Rational' historical methodologies of his day to distinguish supposed 'fiction' from fact. He was hardly the first to dispute Jesus' miracles and the resurrection, but he was the first to imagine who Jesus could have been if He wasn't the Savior that Christians had "mistaken" Him for. He was the first person to explicitly propose a divide between 'the Jesus of history' and the 'Christ of faith', but he went further: in his view, Jesus was a failed political revolutionary whose disciples had posthumously elevated into an exalted figure (by inventing the resurrection!) in order to cope with this failure.
For Reimarus, Jesus the revolutionary predicted the imminent arrival of the kingdom of God (conceived here as an actual earthly kingdom), with Himself as the Messiah and thus its harbinger, but His plans eventually all ended in failure when He was killed. The disciples were obviously very disappointed when things turned out this way, since they expected themselves to become Jesus' right-hand men when the kingdom is established. They only got over this fatal blow by inventing the claim that He was glorified by God and would soon return: in other words, they 'spiritualized' Jesus' original politically-oriented mission. So if anything, in Reimarus' view, Christianity only came about because of the disciples' misplaced hopes and inventions. You can see that Reimarus' thesis has many points of similarity with what Aslan is proposing right now in 2013. But the funny thing is, whereas in Reimarus' time this was dangerous talk (his study was published posthumously by his student Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, who even then did not reveal the author's name in order to protect Reimarus' integrity), saying the same thing nowadays would earn you quick and easy fame and publicity.
In fact, many of the sensationalist claims about Jesus are 'zombies' as Hurtado would call it: rehashes of ancient, oftentimes long-discredited theories that are 'rediscovered' now and again by people who do not know better. You know the 'explanation' that the miracle of the loaves and fishes were just the crowd sharing the lunches they hid within them with each other? Explanations like that had their origins among 18th century naturalists, who tried to say that Scripture is still 'correct' but at the same time explained away anything and everything they deemed to be 'irrational' and backward. What about the idea that Jesus was actually an Essene (or a pawn of the Essenes - portrayed as some sort of secret society a la Freemasons)? Again, a theory which in the 18th-19th century might have been taken seriously - try reading through a 'Life of Jesus' written by an author from those days: many of them seem to have seen Essenes everywhere ;) - but would nowadays would not have much supporters. :shrug: