It is far from clear that the NT authors would record every miracle they saw. Do you know what the dominant mindset of people at the time and place were? (Again, this is something that only a trained historian familiar with the culture of the time would know.) Even today, in my native Indonesia, it is common for people to claim that they witnessed miracles or saw supernatural phenomena. None of this resulted in anything written down - they are regarded as regular occurrences by such people. On the whole, this sounds like the typical Jesus myther argument of “why don’t we have any contemporary accounts of Jesus?”
This is also not clear to me. You are not taking into account the role of oral vs written tradition. Nor is it clear whether throwing skepticism into a historical account written decades after the fact doesn’t make it impossible to know anything about the ancient world. Again, there’s no clear, robust, professional criteria being spelled out before you’re making these statements of incredulity.
This is not an adequate rebuttal. First of all, you’re still stating that each of the 17 occurrences are doubtful, most of them by multiplying together prior probabilities without rigorous consideration of the written evidence from the Gospels and how that affects the probability.
Secondly, you have not answered the question of whether it’s justified to classify 17 improbable occurrences equally. As a lot of people in this thread have argued, things like Communion and the good thief, even if improbable or straight out wrong, are immaterial to the overall reliability of the Gospels.
Thirdly, it’s common for many improbable things to happen during a 24 hour time period if you’re just taking into account prior probabilities (which are difficult to assign rigorously anyway). Today I attended an Indonesian festival in Boston (something very rare, only happens once a year). A temperature sensor on my experimental apparatus broke (having never broken in the last 2 years). I spent two hours thinking about information theory (never did this ever - I am a physicist, not information theorist). That’s already three improbable occurrences in the life of one person on a relatively mundane day. By these standards, my diary entry would be regarded as a mythological fabrication. This is just not the way to do history.
That is not what I’m arguing at all. I certainly don’t ascribe to the Resurrection based on faith alone. Rather, the question is whether it is rational and reasonable for any person to hold to a conservative view of the reliability of the Gospels (among other things). Clearly it is, since scholars like NT Wright, which are respected in the field by both secular and Christian scholars, do so. It would be a different story if you could argue that no scholar regards the Gospels as reliable, and no reasonable replies can be made to the arguments against their reliability.
I certainly don’t think it is possible to show that it is irrational to disbelieve in the Resurrection based on historical evidence alone. Bayesian analysis depends ultimately on your priors. If you believe that a theistic God doesn’t exist, then the prior for a Resurrection is very, very low, and so no amount of historical argumentation will overcome that. So unless you can prove that it’s irrational for anyone to be an atheist (which is a difficult, and different thing to prove), it is impossible to do this. I believe that my opinion isn’t an anomaly among Christians.
Thus, Alter has done little to change the state of affairs. If any Christian apologist believes that all parts of the Gospels are unanimously approved by all the NT scholars in the field, they are wrong and uninformed, and we didn’t need Alter to tell us that. But in my opinion that was never the point of Christian apologetics.