New Testament Miracles And Higher Criticism: Climbing Up The Slippery Slope -- By: Craig L. Blomberg
JETS 27:4 (December 1984) p. 425
New Testament Miracles And Higher Criticism:
Climbing Up The Slippery Slope
“The problem for the modern historian is that he or she does not have the option of explaining events in terms of demon possession or miracle.” So declares Joseph Tyson in this year’s revision of one of the standard textbooks for introductory NT courses in universities across America. As an avowed advocate of thoroughgoing Bultmannian philosophy, Tyson elaborates: “We cannot simply adopt a world view; it is part of the inheritance we have as citizens of the world at a particular time, and the ancient view of the world, as Bultmann described it, is obsolete.”1 From this perspective, antisupernaturalism would seem to have won a total victory, with demythologizing the only intellectually defensible alternative.
At the opposite extreme on the theological spectrum lies a certain percentage of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Its “Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics,” while affirming the need for distinguishing the varieties of literary categories in Scripture, denies that “generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.”2 This denial is not objectionable per se, but it leaves unaddressed the question of how one determines that a narrative is presenting itself as factual. The official commentary on this statement, however, considers as an example an approach that denies the historicity of an apparent OT miracle, the story of Jonah. Yet the commentator’s only explanation for how he knows the book of Jonah is being presented as history is his appeal to the testimony of Christ (Matt 12:40–42: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale …”),3 which has repeatedly been shown to be inconclusive. As another writer points out via a parallel example in the same volume of ICBI summit papers, “a person might say ‘as the good Samaritan stopped to help the half dead man, so Christ in his compassion lived and died to help us,’… without either presupposing or implying that the good Samaritan and Christ both had historical existence on the same plane.”4
The gap between conservative and liberal scholarship seems as vast as ever.
*Craig Blomberg is assistant professor of religion at Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, Florida.
JETS 27:4 (December 1984) p. 426
Or, to change the metapho...
Click here to subscribe