Contradictory Stories and Historical Method

I was surprised and intrigued to see the reactions I received to my post in which I responded to Mark Goodacre’s five points calling into question the traditional story of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library.  In it I pointed out that just because a story changes over time does not mean that the gist of the story is false.  If some tellings indicate that the jar was two feet tall and others that it was six, or that there were two people involved or seven, this does not indicate that the story is, at its heart, false, only that it has been changed in the retelling. A number of readers to the blog reacted by saying that the arguments Mark was making about the discovery of the library are precisely the kind of arguments that I (and critical scholars generally, including, probably Mark!) would make, and have made, against the stories of the Gospels about Jesus.   If I want to use those kinds of argument against the historicity of the Gospel accounts, what [...]