I've been reading UFOs, Ghosts, and a Rising God: Debunking the Resurrection of Jesus, by Chris Hallquist (Reasonable Press, 2009). Hallquist examines the evidence for the resurrection, a core Christian doctrine, adopting a sceptical viewpoint informed by our modern experience with other extraordinary claims, such as those about ghosts (including the Amityville Horror hoax), levitation, and UFO sightings/abductions. The result is an enjoyable volume, in good, clear prose, that debunks the resurrection myth quite thoroughly. Hallquist leaves few stones unmoved or unturned.
A book like this might easily have rested its case on a superficial discussion of the biblical sources or on speculation about what might really have happened after Jesus was crucified and his body then went missing. But Hallquist goes deeper than that. He is well acquainted with both popular Christian apologetics and the more specialised textual scholarship relating to the Bible. Thus, he is able to examine the provenance and historicity of the various resurrection accounts, while also answering the (rather shaky) cases that have been built on them by such apologists as William Lane Craig and Gary Habermas. He puts a compelling case that the resurrection story is a legend that grew up among the early followers of Jesus, not the rationalisation of facts about an empty tomb - indeed, we have no reason to believe that any such "empty tomb" ever existed. The historical records are far too murky for that.
Hallquist's book aside, an uncommitted but well-informed observer would conclude that Jesus was probably one of the many apocalyptic prophets of ancient Palestine, and that his life was heavily mythologised in the gospels, which were written well after his death. The ancient books traditionally ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were based on oral traditions that soon became embroidered with fanciful stories which are not even consistent with each other. The first of these books, Mark, did not come into existence until about 70 AD, and the other two synoptic gospels, Matthew and Luke, were largely based on Mark, with input from a lost document referred to by scholars as "Q". (The gospel of "John" is later still and presents a very different account of Jesus' life.)
It's unlikely that the story of Jesus was made up whole - for a start, the very earliest Christian writings (those of St Paul) date from a time still too close to the events - but the real apocalyptic prophets wandering around the Middle East in the first century did not, alas, have the power to confront demons or the ability to come back to life after being tortured to death.
However, it's conceivable that the New Testament's "Jesus" is a composite figure to some extent, since oral traditions based on the lives of more than one of these prophets could have become conflated as the documents came into existence over time. Be that as it may, the life of the historical figure we now know as "Jesus" was built up into something extraordinary, involving a virgin birth, miraculous healings, encounters with demons, and a divine resurrection.
Over at Butterflies and Wheels, there is an excellent article by Edmund Standing which argues for the existence of an historical Jesus, despite the unbelievable claims made about Jesus in the Bible and elsewhere. As Standing points out, the lives of real people can be mythologised beyond recognition, but this does not entail that there is no underlying stratum of truth - that such and such a person existed and did such and such (far more ordinary) things. Standing uses the example of Haile Selassie, whose life was mythologised beyond recognition, even in his own lifetime, by the Rastafarian movement, despite the fact that this was in modern times and the truth was readily available.
Hallquist takes a similar approach (though it's a pity that he does not seem to be aware of Standing's case study). He does not deny that there is a stratum of truth in the Christian mythology, i.e. that an apocalyptic prophet with a name like "Jesus" lived in the early first century, and perhaps made enough of a nuisance of himself to the local Roman administrators to be executed by them. However, we will probably never have enough information to be sure of what actually happened, event by event, and at any rate this prophet was not a god-man with supernatural powers. When we compare modern investigations of amazing phenomena such as alleged UFO abductions, we can easily understand how such a person's life could be mythologised beyond recognition very quickly, and how unlikely it would have been, in the social and technological conditions of the time, for the surrounding mythology to be successfully debunked.
UFOs, Ghosts, and a Rising God deals with all this in sufficient depth to become a valuable part of a sceptic's library. Hallquist structures the book usefully and explains the issues lucidly. My only gripe is that the British philosopher Antony Flew is referred to throughout as if his first name is "Anthony" - this detracts from the book because there are so many references to Flew. In particular, much of Hallquist's discussion of modern apologetics deals with debates in which Flew was involved on the sceptical side (he has more recently become a deist, though not a Christian or even a conventional theist: as far as I know he still denies the truth of such Christian doctrines as the divine nature and miraculous resurrection of Jesus). I hope that this glitch will be fixed in any subsequent printings.
Meanwhile, don't let it distract you too much. This is the most focused and definitive book that you'll find putting the detailed case against Jesus' resurrection. It's done very well indeed. If your home or local library has a place for such a book, I don't hesitate to recommend it.