A blog post at the link below and my response below that:
1. Cite the work of Freke and Gandi.
It is a good general rule to be wary of referencing in a scholarly debate any writer who acts as a popularizer of ideas. Popularizers serve a purpose, but they usually do so by simplifying. There are exceptions to this rule as some popularizers are also good scholars, but I agree that Freke and Gandy aren’t exceptions.
2. Cite the work of Achyara S or Zeitgeist the Movie.
Along with the first general rule, I’d add that anyone claiming to be a scholar should be judged by their scholarship (assuming that person making the judgment is claiming to be scholarly). This requires reading the author to a significant extent, but sadly few critics of Acharya/Murdock ever read her work (beyond maybe an online article).
As for Callahan, I assume you realize she wrote a rebuttal (http://stellarhousepublishing.com/skeptic-zeitgeist.html). As for her claims about Egyptian connections, she also wrote an almost 600 pg book (Christ In Egypt).
In it, she references the contemporary mythicist scholars Earl Doherty, Robert M. Price, G.A. Wells, and she has a large section where she discusses her disagreement with Richard Carrier. Both Price and Doherty praise her work and reference it, and Price wrote a foreword to one of her books (Who Was Jesus?).
Also, here are some of the modern Egyptologists she references: Rudolf Anthes, Jan Assman, Hellmut Brunner, Claas J. Bleeker, Bob Brier, Henri Frankfort, Alan H. Gardiner, John Gwyn Griffiths, Erik Hornung, Barry Kemp, Barbara Lesko, Bojana Mojsov, Siegfried Morenz, William Murnane, Margaret A. Murray, Donald B. Redford, Herman te Velde, Claude Traunecker, Reginald E. Witt, and Louis V. Zabkar.
I don’t care if you disagree with her, but just do so based on facts and rational arguments.
3. Cite pagan parallels to Jesus which you have not read about yourself from ancient sources.
This is good advice to strive towards, but isn’t practical for the average person. The scholars have spent their lives reading the originals and the many translations. And scholars are constantly arguing over specific words that can alter the entire meaning of a text. This takes years if not decades of study to comprehend.
Also, translations can be deceiving if you don’t know the original language. You have to read many translations before you can even begin to grasp a particular myth. Plus, many translations and inscriptions aren’t available online.
Furthermore, the ancients usually had numerous versions of any given story.
So, yes read what is available to you. But don’t necessarily base your opinion on a single translation of a single version of a single myth. However, when making a specific argument, it is wise to cite specific examples that you are familiar with… which isn’t to say you can’t also cite reputable scholars on examples you’re less familiar with.
Still, it depends on your purpose and your audience. If you’re simply involved in an informal discussion, then primary sources aren’t required.
4. Argue that pagan parallels to Jesus prove he did not exist.
This is very true. A number of mythicist scholars don’t deny a historical Jesus (e.g., Robert M. Price) and some even accept a historical Christ (e.g., G.A. Wells). The two issues are really separate debates even though they’re often covering the same territory.
5. Argue that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
True, but… the absence of evidence where one would expect evidence corroborates an argument of absence and increases its probability. Despite the commonality of prophets and messiahs, the fact that no contemporary of Jesus wrote about him is surprising considering the claims made about him and his followers.
However, (discounting the historical validity of the grandiose claims of the gospels) if we just take Jesus as any other insignificant historical figure, then your point stands.