Most modern prejudice against biblical miracles goes back to David Hume’s argument that uniform human experience precludes miracles. Current research, however, reveals that human experience is far from uniform; hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. Respected New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume’s argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. With more than 1,200 pages, this wide-ranging and meticulously researched study presents a thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Keener draws on claims from a range of global cultures and takes a multidisciplinary approach to the topic. He suggests that many historical and modern miracle accounts are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.
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“Some earlier modern theologians, including Rudolf Bultmann, insisted that ‘mature’ modern people do not believe in miracles and that ‘no one can or does seriously maintain’ such early Christian perspectives.12 Bultmann, however, unwittingly excluded from the modern world the majority of the world’s population, as I shall illustrate, in a manner that current sensitivities would regard as inexcusably ethnocentric (although there is no reason to believe that he, unlike a scholar I will address later, did this deliberately).” (Page 8)
“There is a general consensus among scholars of early Christianity that Jesus was a miracle worker. Claims of miracles were common in antiquity, but these claims took different forms. Most people sought divine help at healing sanctuaries; public individual miracle workers were not nearly so common in this period, and those who did perform wonders rarely specialized in healings.” (Page 19)
“The second issue challenges a commonly held worldview, so some of my academic readers may demur here, though I hope they will respect the legitimacy of my argument.9 This second point is that we are not obligated to begin with the a priori assumption that none of these events could involve intelligent, suprahuman causation.” (Page 7)
“One of the foundational historic reasons for skepticism about the Gospels’ basic content was the radical Enlightenment’s rejection of miracle claims, which seemed thoroughly embedded in the Gospel narratives.7 This book, then, addresses a fundamental historical issue relevant for understanding the Gospels and Acts.” (Page 5)
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
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
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, Nova Scotia
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
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.
—Philip Jenkins, distinguished professor of history, Baylor 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.
—Paul Rhodes Eddy, professor of biblical and theological studies, Bethel University
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. In Miracles, 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.
—Samuel Escobar, emeritus professor of missiology, Palmer Theological Seminary; professor, Theological Seminary of the Spanish Baptist Union, Madrid
Dr. Craig S. Keener (PhD, Duke University) is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, and is the author of 17 books, four of which have won book awards in Christianity Today. One, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, has sold more than half a million copies. He has authored scholarly commentaries on Matthew, John (two volumes), Acts (four volumes), and more briefly on Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Revelation. Dr. Keener is married to Dr. Médine Moussounga Keener, who spent 18 months as a refugee in her nation of Congo before their marriage.