Was Jesus Thought To Be a Miracle Worker in His Own Lifetime?

This is the final, and most important, of my posts on the miracles of Jesus.  In it I raise the question – without being able to come to an absolutely definitive answer – of whether Jesus was thought to be a miracle worker already in his life time or if, instead, miracles came to be ascribed to him only later by followers who believed he had been raised from the dead.  I incline toward the latter view.

To set the stage ...

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The Message of Jesus’ Miracles

I have been talking about the stories of Jesus’ miracles, and am raising the question of whether they necessarily go all the way back to Jesus’ lifetime, as tales told while he was still living.  I pick up where I left off last time, after showing that Jesus’ miracle-working abilities increased with the passing of time.

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Not only does Jesus become increasingly miraculous with the passing of time, these miracles are all told in order to make a point.   ...

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Is There Sarcasm in the New Testament?

 

Here is an unusually interesting question I have received:

 

QUESTION:

During the time that the New Testament was being written, especially during Paul’s time, did they have in society what we consider sarcasm? Sometimes certain sentences pop out to me as they could have meant them in a sarcastic tone. I know it is probably just me since I am a sarcastic person.

 

RESPONSE:

Now *that’s* an interesting question that I, literally, have never been asked before!   But it’s something I’ve thought about a ...

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Jesus and His Miracles: Some Interesting Features

In my discussion of whether the historian can deal with the category of miracle, I’m now at the point where I can deal directly with the miracles ascribed to Jesus.   This is an issue that I have dealt with in several books, including, most recently, Jesus Before the Gospels.   It will take three posts for me to cover the waterfront here.  This is how I began dealing with the issue in the book.

 

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The Miracles ...

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History is not the Past! Proving Jesus’ Resurrection and Other Miracles

Last week I finished a thread on the criteria scholars use to establish what happened in the life of the historical Jesus.  That series of posts raises an important question: what do historians do about the fact that throughout the Gospels Jesus does lots of miracles — and at the end the greatest miracle of all happens, he is raised from the dead as an immortal being, never to die again?  Can such miracles be demonstrated to have happened historically?

That’s ...

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Traditions About Jesus that Are Probably Not Historical

I have been arguing that there are ways to extract historical information about Jesus from the Gospels – even if they were not written to provide disinterested accounts of what he really said and did but were meant to promote faith in him.

So far I have discussed two positive criteria: independent attestation (if a tradition is found in multiple independent sources then that increases the likelihood that it goes back to the life of Jesus, since none of the sources ...

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The Trickiest Criterion for Determining What Happened in the Life of Jesus

Here I continue the thread on how scholars go about establishing which traditions in the Gospels appear to reflect what actually happened in the life of Jesus.   Of all the things I’ve said so far, this is the most controversial.   But after thinking about it for some forty years, I still think it makes good sense, for reasons I try to explain.

 

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What An Odd Thing to Say!  The Criterion of Dissimilarity.

The most controversial criterion that historians use, and often misuse, ...

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An Important Criterion for Establishing What Actually Happened

I am in the midst of a threat talking about how historians can use sources such as the Gospels to know what actually happened in Jesus’ life.  These books were not *meant* to provide disinterested historical information about the past, but were quite intentinally slanted accounts meant to encourage and shape faith in Jesus.  They nonetheless do contain important historical information.  How does the historian determine what his historical and what is legendary in them?

Yesterday I gave some of the ...

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Rules of Thumb for Reconstructing the History behind the Gospels

In yesterday’s post I laid out the “wish list” historians have when it comes to sources of information about persons and events of the past, and evaluated how well the Gospels stack up against the list.  Now I want to move into the kinds of criteria biblical scholars use when trying to extract historical information from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, criteria made necessary by the fact that the Gospel writers were not trying to write objective historical narratives ...

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The Historian’s Wish List

While writing the posts in my thread on the contradictions in the New Testament, I had the impression that some readers thought I considered it virtually impossible to use the New Testament for historical purposes.   That’s actually not the case at all.   I’m going to discuss this issue over a number of posts, focusing on the Gospels.  Oddly enough, it appears I’ve never devoted a sustained thread to this precise end, of explaining how historians go about their business of ...

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