“The Dead Are Raised” (Matthew 11:5 // Luke 7:22): Resuscitation Accounts In The Gospels And Eyewitness Testimony -- By: Craig S. Keener

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 25:1 (NA 2015)
Article: “The Dead Are Raised” (Matthew 11:5 // Luke 7:22): Resuscitation Accounts In The Gospels And Eyewitness Testimony
Author: Craig S. Keener


“The Dead Are Raised” (Matthew 11:5 // Luke 7:22): Resuscitation Accounts In The Gospels And Eyewitness Testimony

Craig S. Keener

Asbury Theological Seminary

The criterion of multiple attestation supports the claim that persons believed dead were resuscitated in Jesus’s ministry. One might wish to count the historiographic principle of analogy against the earliness of this tradition, but there are in fact analogies for such experiences today. It is incontrovertible that significant numbers of eyewitnesses in numerous cultures offer claims of resuscitations in theistic contexts today. Philosophic and theological explanations of these experiences vary, but the analogies suggest that one need not attribute all resuscitation accounts to late, legendary accretions.

Key Words: raising, raisings, resurrection, resuscitation, resuscitations, miracle stories, Gospels, historical Jesus

Citing the principle of historical analogy, some scholars reject claims that Jesus raised the dead. A more informed argument from historical analogy, however, should recognize that some people indeed have had resuscitation experiences in the context of prayer. Although interpretations of such experiences may vary, that eyewitnesses report these experiences should be deemed beyond reasonable doubt.1

Introductory Questions

Recently, a number of scholars have revived an emphasis on eyewitness tradition in the Gospels; although evaluations of the potential reliability of memory vary, few critics deny at least a core of authentic memory.2

More specifically, based on considerable evidence, most historical Jesus scholars affirm that Jesus’ contemporaries experienced him as a miracle-worker.3 This consensus is shared by scholars with a range of various perspectives.4 As Bart Ehrman notes, scholars can accept Jesus as an exorcist and healer without passing judgment on whether he acted supernaturally.5 Jesus’s status as a miracle-worker has no small bearing on the question of the depiction of Jesus in the Gospels in general, because roughly one-third of Mark, probably our first extant Gospel, consists of miracle stories.6

Accounts of Jesus raising the dead, however, have sometimes been excepted from this wider depiction of genuine traditions of Jesus as miracle-worker, because these resuscitations are deemed im...

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