A New Historiographical Approach
The question of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection has been repeatedly probed, investigated and debated. And the results have varied widely. Perhaps some now regard this issue as the burned-over district of New Testament scholarship. Could there be any new and promising approach to this problem?
Yes, answers Michael Licona. And he convincingly points us to a significant deficiency in approaching this question: our historiographical orientation and practice. So he opens this study with an extensive consideration of historiography and the particular problem of investigating claims of miracles. This alone is a valuable contribution. But then Licona carefully applies his principles and methods to the question of Jesus’ resurrection.
In addition to determining and working from the most reliable sources and bedrock historical evidence, Licona critically weighs other prominent hypotheses. His own argument is a challenging and closely argued case for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. Any future approaches to dealing with this “prize puzzle” of New Testament study will need to be routed through The Resurrection of Jesus.
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From my perspective, this book provided a fair, objective synopsis and analysis of the leading theories of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The author (Licona) takes a wide scope approach, including analysis of the Apostle Paul’s vision of the resurrected Christ and the life change that resulted (not only Jesus’ disciples and the accounts in the gospels). He places the theories side by side and judges them on their merits. Licona also spends space acknowledging the horizons of different writers (including himself) and how these horizons affect the way one reads the historical evidence for the resurrection. Highly recommended.
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This was an extremely comprehensive and academic look at the way historians evaluate stories of the past and then application to the resurrection of Jesus. It was probably one of the most fair and conservative approaches I’ve ever seen in deciding what would and would not be used as historically verifiable as it pertains to the Biblical account of the death and resurrection of Christ. During the analysis of the different hypotheses at the end, there is a lot to be said for how worldview allows one to interpret data. Licona does a good job in his attempt to put his worldview to the side to allow for all possibilities.
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One of the best expositions of historiography I’ve read in a while. Licona spends the first third of “The Resurrection of Jesus” critiquing the problems with presuppositional naturalism and developing a methodology whereby if the best answer is a supernatural one, it could be the best answer.
Licona spends the middle chapters enumerating the canonical and non-canonical sources that would have bearing on the resurrection. He narrows down the “historical bedrock” – that which is universally agreed upon as historical fact by historians to 3 facts – that Christ was crucified, that he appeared to the apostles, and that Paul converts to Christianity because of his experience of the risen Christ.
In the final chapter, Licona looks at 6 different hypotheses for the resurrection – one of them was that Jesus actually was resurrected from the dead – either bodily or spiritually. In his final assessment, the resurrection hypothesis makes the best sense of all the data, but only if one allows for the possibility of the supernatural.