In debates about what the Bible says or means, there is always an elephant in the room. The elephant is whether the person making judgments believes there is a god, whether or not the Bible is the word of the god and whether sources outside of the Bible may be more reliable.
It is possible for one to believe there was a Jesus and that the human Jesus taught valuable lessons but still not believe the tenets of sin, the cross and all the rest. But, it is not common to think in that way.
My friend, Howard Bess, a Baptist minister and believer, does an excellent job of explaining the different approaches. As he explains, critics make the assumption scholar Bart Ehrman rejects all the Bible when he treats it miracles as religious ideas instead of facts. Ehrman says the miracles do not meet the standard for historical events.
Bess says about Ehrman and his critics it all reminds him of the Scopes trial which was about teaching evolution in schools. The trail ended with the anti evolution side losing in court. But, the power of the case for teaching it was so great it is taught everywhere today.
Ehrman argues that Jesus became a god when people began to believe he came back from the dead. That his body was removed from a cross and moved to a tomb is contrary to the known historical practices. That he was seen alive is a religious concept.
It is not possible to have a debate between these two kinds of scholars when they are not talking about the same thing.