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Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts - eBook
Baker Academic / 2011 / ePub
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Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume's argument that uniform human experience precludes the possibility of miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience has been far from uniform.
Hundreds of millions of people all over the world in all cultures, in both ancient times and in modern times, claim to have experienced miracles. In Miracles New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to reevaluate Hume's evaluation of the miraculous in light of the growing stock of evidence available to us in support of miraculous events.
This magisterial, wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in earliest Christian history, namely the Gospels and Acts, and also for plausibility of the miraculous occurring in today's world. Covering methodological concerns and assumptions, empirical evidence, and majority-world assumptions, Keener also draws on claims from a range of global cultures and takes a multidisciplinary approach to the problem of miracles.
Thus Keener argues, that when the methodological issues are properly dealt with, and the historiographical veracity of many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are explained, our best option remains to acknowledge them as genuine divine acts which, in turn, lend credence to biblical miracle reports.
Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume's argument that uniform human experience precluded miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience is far from uniform. In fact, hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume's argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. This wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Drawing on claims from a range of global cultures and taking a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, Keener suggests that many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.
Craig Keener's discussion of New Testament miracles adduces a uniquely--indeed staggeringly--extensive collection of comparative material. That eyewitnesses frequently testify to miraculous healings and other 'extranormal' events is demonstrated beyond doubt. Keener mounts a very strong challenge to the methodological skepticism about the miraculous to which so many New Testament scholars are still committed. It turns out to be an ethnocentric prejudice of modern Western intellectuals. So who's afraid of David Hume now?
professor emeritus of New Testament studies, St. Andrews University; senior scholar, Ridley Hall, Cambridge
Any history of the rise and growth of Christianity that fails to take account of the belief in miracles and healings and signs and wonders is missing a very large part of the story. That statement is truer than ever today when we look at the booming churches of Africa and Asia. Craig Keener's Miracles is thus a major contribution to understanding the Christian faith, past and present. The book is all the more valuable because of Keener's thoughtful and bold analysis of the scientific method and the means by which we can test the miraculous. This massively researched study is both learned and provocative.
Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities, Pennsylvania State University
Seldom does a book take one's breath away, but Keener's magisterial Miracles is such a book. It is an extremely sophisticated, completely thorough treatment of its subject matter, and, in my opinion, it is now the best text available on the topic. The uniqueness of Keener's treatment lies in his location of the biblical miracles in the trajectory of ongoing, documented miracles in the name of Jesus and his kingdom throughout church history, up to and including the present. From now on, no one who deals with the credibility of biblical miracles can do so responsibly without interacting with this book.
-J. P. Moreland,
distinguished professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
From the very beginning of the modern approach to the Gospels, the question of miracles brought controversy. Over the last few centuries, most historical-critical scholars have dismissed them out of hand. However, in recent years, the tide has turned for a growing number of Gospel scholars. It is within this context that Craig Keener's new two-volume work can be fully appreciated. Those familiar with Keener's previous work will not be surprised by the remarkable level of scholarship in these volumes. The depth and breadth of research is stunning. The interdisciplinary synthesis is as careful as it is brilliant. The arguments are evenhanded and nuanced. In short, this work takes scholarship on miracles to a new level of sophistication and depth. A truly amazing set of books.
-Paul Rhodes Eddy,
professor of biblical and theological studies, Bethel University
Keener deals not just with the biblical evidence for miracles but also with the vast evidence from all over the world that miracles of various sorts happen. He shows that whatever the merits of Hume's claim in his own day, it can hardly be maintained today that 'miracles are not a part of normal experience and are not widely attested.' To the contrary, the evidence suggests that millions of people in the world have either witnessed or claim to have experienced miracles of one sort or another. Keener has painstakingly assembled the necessary data and is careful in the way he presents the evidence and draws his conclusions. This book is a rarity in the scholarly world in that it is both rigorous in its scholarship and speaks with knowledge and passion about an exciting subject that demands our attention. We have here perhaps the best book ever written on miracles in this or any age. Highly recommended.
-Ben Witherington III,
Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary
This is vintage Keener--exhaustive research, expert command of and thoughtful interaction with both ancient and modern sources, impeccable analyses of all sides of the argument, and deft handling of the controversial issues--plus some! It will be a long time before those skeptical about miracles will even begin to mount a response to what will undoubtedly henceforth be the first stop for all serious researchers on this topic.
J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology, Regent University School of Divinity
In an age of a global church, the time has come for Bible scholarship to be enriched by considering the way Christians read and understand Scripture in non-Western countries and cultures. InMiracles, Craig Keener offers an invaluable example of how that enrichment can take place through hard scholarly work and a passion for integrity. He gives us an exhaustive wealth of historical understanding, anthropological richness, and missiological savvy.
professor emeritus of missiology, Palmer Theological Seminary; professor, Theological Seminary of the Spanish Baptist Union, Madrid
Craig Keener's magisterial two-volume study of miracles is an astounding accomplishment. The book covers far more than the subtitle implies, because Keener places the debate over the biblical miracles in many different contexts, including the philosophical debate over miracles, views of miracles in the ancient world, contemporary evidence for miracles, and the relationship of the issue to science. Although this book is clearly the product of immense learning and a mind at home in many disciplines, it is clearly written and argued and shows good sense throughout.
-C. Stephen Evans,
University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University
Keener dares to accuse prevailing approaches to biblical-historical inquiry of operating according to ethnocentric prejudices and presuppositions, and then dares to make the charges stick with an avalanche of interdisciplinary arguments and evidence. He challenges us to ask--not only as persons of faith, but also as committed academicians--one of the most important questions that we can: Is the natural world a closed system after all? This monumental study combines historical inquiry into late antiquity, philosophical and existential criticism of antisupernaturalism and the legacy of David Hume's epistemological skepticism, and ethnographic study of the phenomenon of the miraculous throughout the Majority World. The result is a book that is important not only for the historical study of Jesus and the New Testament but also for our understanding of our contemporary world beyond the boundaries of our social location and its worldview.
-David A. deSilva,
Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek, Ashland Theological Seminary
An exhaustive treatment of the subject, encompassing a range of sources from antiquity to contemporary times, from the Bible to modern Africa. It brilliantly serves not only biblical scholars but also--equally important--mission thinkers and practitioners.
executive director, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Craig Keener has written arguably the best book ever on the subject of miracles. He places the miracles of Jesus and his followers in a full and rich context that includes philosophy, history, theology, exegesis, comparative religion, cultural anthropology, and firsthand observation and testimony. There is nothing like it. Keener's monumental work shifts the burden of proof heavily onto skeptics. This book is must-reading for all who are interested in the truly big questions of our day.
-Craig A. Evans,
Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Acadia Divinity College
Craig Keener has produced an impressive work that is meticulously researched, ambitious in historic and geographic scope, and relevant to current cultural concerns. Keener's bold exploration of the plausibility of past and present miracle claims should provoke interest--and debate--among a wide range of readers.
-Candy Gunther Brown,
associate professor, Indiana University
This book is the kind of performance that reviewers of opera like to call 'bravura' or 'virtuoso' and that philosophers call a tour de force. After putting it down, I'm standing up, clapping, and shouting 'Bravo! Bravo!'
-Leonard Sweet, E.
Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, Drew University, and visiting distinguished professor, George Fox University
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