Re: "Whoever Jesus was, he changed the world" (TNT, 12-25).
One of the more striking claims made about Jesus of Nazareth is that he never existed at all, or only as a long-dead figure experienced in a supposed vision by St. Paul. Alvar Ellegard, a religious scholar, wrote a book to that effect.
Ellegard used inductive reasoning and a meticulous examination of ancient text and letters to postulate that St. Paul's vision was based on a "Teacher of Righteous" who had been dead possibly 100 years or more before the Augustinian era and had never been an actual physical presence in the lives of those who wrote about him.
Only later, after his memory had been reconstituted through letters and text did he become Jesus of Nazareth. Only later still were the gospels created so as to make Jesus a flesh-and-blood character, as opposed to an intellectual abstraction in the form of a vision.
In essence, Ellegard's figure is not a fictional character. But virtually nothing is known about his life (beyond that he was supposedly persecuted for heretical beliefs within the Essene community). He began as a shadowy legend but over time evolved into a full-blown historical religious phenomenon.