My friend stated that:
<i>"While i get the sentiment, I think the Jesus as community organizer, rebel, and impassioned idealist get more credit than this, even if more legendary than historical. Same as Herakles, really, or Odin and Thor. And to call it "feminine" as if automatically that makes it worth less, lower status, or less noble bugs me. The Rebelliousness of Prometheus and of Jesus do have a fair amount in common, actually. History is more likely to remove the miracles and resign the stories of Jesus to a similar place as the stories of Gautama Siddhartha, I think. Prometheus was said to bring us fire, due to his own shortcomings and against Zeus' will; Jesus strove to make us notice each other, and care for each other more intently, and claimed to speak with the authority of his God's will. Both important, but I think Foote's very poetic simplification misses the point pretty radically, and results in showing more about his own disdain
for the Christianity he knew than it shows anything real about a mythological Jesus."</i>
I think Foote's usage of the masculine and feminine was specified that as which would be seen as subservient or rebellious to the supernatural will. Remember, at the time Foote was writing Jesus being seen as replacing God's supremacy wasn't yet a well accepted theological perspective. That is, Jesus was still just the Son, and the debate of whether he was incarnate or a demigod continued to be bandied back and forth then as it is today.
In that respect, I see the comment as more of a rhetorical flourish. The comment as made by Foote of submitting to or superseding the supernatural will is not wrong. And remember, he's writing polemics in a critical newspaper magazine, not providing actual historical exegesis. Although his historical knowledge was exceedingly vast. The guy was a living encyclopedia.
As for the mythical elements of Christ, that's all we really have in the NT. None of Jesus' sayings seem to be historically genuine. Not a single one. But there does seem to be enough theological attempts by the Gospel writers attempting to embarrass rival Christian sects by redacting the texts, often times in obvious ways, that it makes one wonder if there possibly could have been a historical figure lurking in the penumbra of ancient history that was viewed as a savior figure, otherwise why try to usurp a historical figure like John the Baptist with an all fictional character like Jesus? It causes one feel that, logically, it makes sense to posit a historical figure who, as you observed, got legendized and mythologized rather than beginning as a 100% myth.
I, however, remain skeptical as to whether or not there was any historical Jesus that we can know about. There simply is no substantiating evidence, and nothing outside of the Bible to corroborate the existence of such a figure except to say that's what Christians commonly believed as reported by contemporary historians like Josephus.
When those like Foote use myth to describe Jesus, they aren't attempting to diminish his eminence of Jesus as seen in the eyes of Christians, he is merely calling a spade a spade, he is making a plainly obvious statement. It's just one that Christians offhandedly reject in favor of their own theological presuppositions. But that's no way to do history.
However, I do think his placing Prometheus above Jesus might be a mistake. If both are myth, in my eyes they have equal value. Jesus was a dying and rising god, a Corn King as C.S. Lewis rightly observed, and like Dionysus he probably was more feminine in character (if not characteristics) than other demigods, especially warrior ones, but also like Dionysus no less important than any other mythological figure.
As for Foote's position that Jesus had in no way redeemed the world, I tend to agree. Original sin is a nebulous, not to mention convoluted, doctrine. The very idea of a supernatural kind of transgression, i.e. a sin, is absurd given the surrounding theology. Yet it's the only way modern Christians can press-gang Jesus into being a perpetual savior -- the only way to maintain the myth amid a reality that, once empirically revealed, states such things as the supernatural simply do not appear to exist in any discernible way and probably never have.
As such, what was there for Jesus to die for?
When I was a Christian, such a question was easy. I didn't even need to think about it. Jesus died for my sins! He repaid our transgressions with his blood sacrifice and washed away that disdainful curse of sin. But this concept can be better explained as a pastiche to the Hebrew God Jehovah, and the notion that Jehovah requires blood sacrifice, and Jesus becomes the ultimate scapegoat for all time so that Jehovah no longer can hold sin against the human race.
But I rather like the Muslim notion of the doctrine of ultimate forgiveness (sort of like the doctrine of Justification as Lutherans hold it or universal reconciliation as Universalists believe), as Allah was all-forgiving and had the power to forgive sin without requiring any symbolic or literal blood sacrifice.
Additionally, I find it quite interesting that in Islam they still believe Jesus died on the cross. But not as a means to an end, but rather as a historical fact of the crimes he was accused of.
And it seems that history has a much more reasonable, much more believable, and evidenced explanation for the kinds of events spoken about in the NT, whether they were bickering political factions, revolts and uprisings against Rome, and a host of religious folk trying to maintain their faith in turbulent times. All this can be accounted for. What cannot be accounted for is a Jesus of history. Hence the question of his historicity and why people like me, educated some in this area, tend to be more skeptical than many who have no qualms about mixing their deeply felt religious convictions in with their historical presuppositions. I tend to try and maintain a more objective outlook, because I find that I value the truth enough to ask questions I may not like the answers to. It is what led me out of three decades of Christian faith.
Such a habit, of intrepidly following the clues and thinking for oneself is why I like to share jolting quotes like the above. If anything, it sparks discussion and gets people to argue their position, which is the first step in validating one's worldview, I find.