In Reply to Habermas, McGrew, and McCullagh -- By: Michael R. Licona

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 03:1 (Summer 2012)
Article: In Reply to Habermas, McGrew, and McCullagh
Author: Michael R. Licona

In Reply to Habermas, McGrew,
and McCullagh

Michael R. Licona

Houston Baptist University


I would like to express my gratitude to Heath Thomas and Southeastern Theological Review for featuring my book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (ROJ) in this issue. I would also like to thank Gary Habermas, Timothy McGrew, and Behan McCullagh for their remarks. For ROJ to receive this sort of scholarly attention at an early stage is quite exciting and encouraging.

Reply to Gary Habermas

Since I regard Gary Habermas as the world’s leading expert on the topic of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, it is a great honor to have him contribute an essay on ROJ. Because of the immense work on Jesus’ resurrection he has conducted over several decades, I was able to stand on his shoulders when I wrote chapter four of ROJ and know which facts to examine pertaining to the historical bedrock relevant to the resurrection of Jesus. In personal conversations with Habermas, I never cease to be amazed at the breadth and depth of his knowledge on the subject. There are no forthcoming books for which I have greater anticipation to read than a multi-volume magnum opus on Jesus’ resurrection by Habermas.

Habermas’ comments over the years have always been and continue to be of immense value to me. I was surprised that he offered no criticisms. During my doctoral research, we had many discussions pertaining to whether historians are within their professional rights to investigate miracle claims. At that time, he seemed to side with the majority on the negative. Since this is a live discussion among professional historians and biblical scholars—as further evidenced by McCullagh’s critical essay, I would have liked for Habermas to have commented on the matter to learn where he now stands, given my arguments in chapter two of ROJ.

Habermas offered a few caveats to the “minimal facts” approach that I think helpful for future discussion. One such caveat noted by Habermas is how much historical weight one should place on the appearance to James and the empty tomb. I am satisfied that I did not use either in the historical method employed in ROJ, since neither may be regarded as historical bedrock. However, I believe there is a place for going beyond strictly controlled

method and contending for matters one believes are strongly evidenced but do not enjoy a widespread heterogeneous consensus. In fact, I have taken this route since the publication of ROJ. In my lectures and debates during the past two and a half years, I have been contending that Jesus’ disciples proclai...

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