Mark Goodacre’s outline of the difficulties in getting at the Jewish peasant of Galilee (known as Jesus) is timely in light of the fact that we are now beginning to look at the gospels (and the historical Jesus) in our course. Check out his list of Why is the Historical Jesus Quest so difficult?
There is a sense in which we are on far more solid historical ground in asking what did some early Christian author (e.g. the author of Mark, Matthew, Thomas) think was significant about Jesus than we are in asking what did the peasant Jesus actually do and say. A narrative approach to the gospels that considers how a particular author portrays Jesus and how the story of Jesus unfolds in a particular writing is less plagued with problems in certain respects. It is still difficult nonetheless.