Tim, when you say
you're conflating "earthly" and "historical." Is it not possible that Paul believed Jesus had an (utterly obscure) earthly existence but that nevertheless there was no such actual person? "Born of a woman" in Paul, for me, actually confirms this view, for what man is not born of a woman? It highlights just how little Paul can say about this person. In all, this and other passages in Paul (and out of the whole corpus, your few citations are nearly exhaustive) offer so little in the way of any specificity that would indicate biographical rather than mythical/legendary material, and absolute silence on anything that appears in the Synoptic narrative, that it's become impossible for me to read Paul as talking about the figure that is presented to us in the gospels.It's pretty hard for any objective analysis to read all that as anything other than Paul talking about an earthly, historical person.
In a recent series of exchanges with a real, live PhD NT scholar, it has become even more clear to me that the ones in this debate who "assume their conclusion" are the historicists.
Unfortunately, I'll be out of town over the weekend and I can't really follow up on this. But I will be game for any continuing discussion on the issue starting next week, should there be interest.
Good to see some RDF forum refugees creating something out of the ashes. (I wasn't ever a member, but I hope I can make some contributions here and be a part of the newly reconstituted community.)