Our Post of the Month winner for December 2011 is Keble!
be your friend in this sort of thing, as it can at least tell you where to look.
The "Pantera" thing is an example. If you look at the article on Tiberius Iulius Abdes Pantera
you will find that this theory traces back to Celsus and that Origen (who is our only source for what Celsus wrote; the original is lost) thought it was nonsense, and that modern scholars don't think much of it either, and that the usual speculating types (in this case Borg and Crossan) speculate a connection between "Pantera" and "Parthenos". From any rational perspective it's hard to imagine that an anti-Christian pagan writing in the late second century AD had a better line on Jesus' origins than the gospel writers.
Likewise, there are a lot of references in the article on The "Lost Tomb of Jesus" documentary
. Here there are lots more problems. The circumstantial evidence is disputed and the conclusions are stretched mighty thin; there are also complaints that certain tests appear to not have been done because their results might have knocked down the whole shaky edifice of speculation and supposition.
Everything else hinges on the thesis that modern interpreters, working with less information due to whatever losses there were over the years, are nonetheless better than the ancients. Obviously put this way, it's questionable. The whole Jesus vs. Paul or Jesus vs. John thing, for example, is unjustifiable without evidence of an ancient dispute which we do not have. All evidence suggests that the mainstream of Christianity, especially including the other apostles, didn't have a problem with Paul's message. Ancient writing of history (and the gospels aren't history in the conventional sense anyway) isn't like modern, so the genre expectations of modern historians aren't valid.
The best thesis about the "historical Jesus" is that you can't get at Him. This goes all the way back to Albert Schweitzer, whom any decent course on the idea of the historical Jesus has to address. When people try to construct a historical Jesus away from the church, they don't have anything substantial to go on except for what comes out of the church, so they have to start sticking in "how the church is wrong" presuppositions that obviously are going to create a idol of the investigator's biases. The current crop, for example, reflects the materialism and skeptical forensics of modern people, and especially the anti-clericalism of the European intelligentsia. But the church materials were not written to address that, and the anti-clericalism is an unsupportable bias. therefore the whole "historical Jesus" thing is essentially a historical investigation of modernism, not something that informs us about ancient Palestine.
Join us in proclaiming him AXIOS! WORTHY! AXIOS!