Luke’s Use Of “Horama” -- By: Brendon Helms

Journal: Christian Apologetics Journal
Volume: CAJ 11:1 (Spring 2013)
Article: Luke’s Use Of “Horama”
Author: Brendon Helms


Luke’s Use Of “Horama”

Brendon Helms

Brendon Helms, M.A.in Biblical Studies, from Southern Evangelical Seminary, Charlotte, NC.

The idea behind this article began to develop in the spring of 2009 at Southern Evangelical Seminary during a debate between Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Michael Licona on the historicity of the resurrection. During the debate Ehrman asked a question that went unanswered: “how can we know that Paul actually saw Jesus on the Damascus Road?” Ehrman elaborated on this question and stated that if we cannot know that Paul actually saw Jesus of Nazareth in our spacio–temporal realm, then Paul cannot be counted as an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ.1

There are many possibilities that are offered to explain away the reality of Paul’s encounter with Christ. One of the often heard explanations is that Paul did not encounter Jesus in reality, but it was only a vision. This would mean that Paul had an experience of some sort, but

that it was not the type of experience that evangelical Christians want to claim for Paul.2 To address this issue it needs to be demonstrated that Paul did not merely have a personal vision on the Damascus Road. However, it should be noted that even if Paul did only have a personal vision it does not follow that Paul would be any less validated as a messenger of God. This would mean that Paul was not an apostle in the sense that he was an eyewitness to the resurrection, but he would not lose his apostleship in the sense of a leadership position. It is my contention that Luke uses the word horama in such a way that indicates that he believed there was a monumental difference between what occurred on the Damascus road and the private visions that took place throughout Acts.3

The Attack On Paul

Many scholars have a tremendous desire to discount the objectivity of Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road. It seems that their desire to disprove that Jesus literally appeared to Paul in bodily form stems from their ultimate desire to deny the resurrection. The research of scholars such as Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, and Michael Licona has put a tremendous amount of weight on the conversion of Paul as strong evidence for the historicity of the resurrection.4 Following from their arguments, it makes sense that liberal scholars would attempt to cast serious doubt on Paul’s encounter with Jesus. According to John Shelby Spong, Paul’s encounter with ...

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