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Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (2 Volume Set) Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume's argument that uniform human experience precluded miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience is far from uniform. In fact, hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. In this wide-ranging and meticulously researched study, Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume's argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us.

"Seldom does a book take one's breath away, but Keener's magisterial Miracles is such a book. It is an extremely sophisticated, completely thorough treatment of its subject matter and, in my opinion, it is now the best text available on the topic. The uniqueness of Keener's treatment lies in his location of the biblical miracles in the trajectory of ongoing, documented miracles in the name of Jesus and His kingdom throughout church history, up to and including the present. From now on, no one who deals with the credibility of biblical miracles can do so responsibly without interacting with this book."
--J. P. Moreland, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"An exhaustive treatment of the subject, encompassing a range of sources from antiquity to contemporary times, from the Bible to modern Africa. It brilliantly serves not only biblical scholars but also--equally important--mission thinkers and practitioners."
--Wonsuk Ma, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies

"From the very beginning of the modern approach to the Gospels, the question of miracles brought controversy. Over the last few centuries, most historical-critical scholars have dismissed them out of hand. However, in recent years, the tide has turned for a growing number of Gospel scholars. It is within this context that Craig Keener's new two-volume work can be fully appreciated. Those familiar with Keener's past volumes will not be surprised by the remarkable level of scholarship in this work. The depth and breadth of research is stunning. The interdisciplinary synthesis is as careful as it is brilliant. The arguments are evenhanded and nuanced. In short, this work takes scholarship on miracles to a new level of sophistication and depth. A truly amazing set of books."
--Paul Rhodes Eddy, Bethel University

"This book is the kind of performance that reviewers of opera like to call 'bravura' or 'virtuoso' and that philosophers call a tour de force. After putting it down, I'm standing up, clapping, and shouting, 'Bravo! Bravo!'"
--Leonard Sweet, Drew University; George Fox University

"Craig Keener has produced an impressive work that is meticulously researched, ambitious in historic and geographic scope, and relevant to current cultural concerns. Keener's bold exploration of the plausibility of past and present miracle claims should provoke interest--and debate--among a wide range of readers."
--Candy Gunther Brown, Indiana University

From the Back Cover

"Perhaps the best book ever written on miracles"

"Any history of the rise and growth of Christianity that fails to take account of the belief in miracles and healings and signs and wonders is missing a very large part of the story. Miracles is thus a major contribution to understanding the Christian faith, past and present. The book is all the more valuable because of Keener's thoughtful and bold analysis of the scientific method and the means by which we can test the miraculous. This massively researched study is both learned and provocative."
--Philip Jenkins, Pennsylvania State University

"Keener's discussion of New Testament miracles adduces a uniquely--indeed staggeringly--extensive collection of comparative material. That eyewitnesses frequently testify to miraculous healings and other 'extranormal' events is demonstrated beyond doubt. Keener mounts a very strong challenge to the methodological skepticism about the miraculous to which so many New Testament scholars are still committed. It turns out to be an ethnocentric prejudice of modern Western intellectuals. So who's afraid of David Hume now?"
--Richard Bauckham, St. Andrews University; Ridley Hall, Cambridge

"This book is a rarity in the scholarly world in that it is both rigorous in its scholarship and speaks with knowledge and passion about an exciting subject that demands our attention. We have here perhaps the best book ever written on miracles in this or any age. Highly recommended."
--Ben Witherington III, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Keener's magisterial two-volume study of miracles is an astounding accomplishment. Although this book is clearly the product of immense learning and a mind at home in many disciplines, it is clearly written and argued and shows good sense throughout."
--C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University

"This is vintage Keener--exhaustive research, expert command of and thoughtful interaction with both ancient and modern sources, impeccable analyses of all sides of the argument, and deft handling of the controversial issues--plus some! It will undoubtedly henceforth be the first stop for all serious researchers on this topic."
--Amos Yong, Regent University School of Divinity

"This monumental study combines historical inquiry into late antiquity, philosophical and existential criticism of antisupernaturalism and the legacy of David Hume's epistemological skepticism, and ethnographic study of the phenomenon of the miraculous throughout the Majority World. The result is a book that is important not only for the historical study of Jesus and the New Testament but also for our understanding of our contemporary world beyond the boundaries of our social location and its worldview."
--David A. deSilva, Ashland Theological Seminary

"Keener has written arguably the best book ever on the subject of miracles. His monumental work shifts the burden of proof heavily onto skeptics. This book is must-reading for all who are interested in the truly big questions of our day."
--Craig A. Evans, Acadia Divinity College

"In an age of a global church, the time has come for Bible scholarship to be enriched by considering the way Christians read and understand Scripture in non-Western countries and cultures. Keener offers an invaluable example of how that enrichment can take place. He gives us an exhaustive wealth of historical understanding, anthropological richness, and missiological savvy."
--Samuel Escobar, Palmer Theological Seminary; Theological Seminary of the Spanish Baptist Union, Madrid
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Product Details

  • Series: Volume 2 (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 1248 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; Pck edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801039525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801039522
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Owens on November 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the two-volume work Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, Craig S. Keener argues for two theses. The first thesis is that eyewitnesses do offer miracle claims. The second thesis is that supernatural explanations of miracle accounts should be on the table in scholarly discussions.

The theses tie into the historical study of the New Testament miracle accounts (found primarily in the Gospels and Acts). If the first thesis is true then the mere fact that the NT contains accounts of miracles is not a reason to doubt that such accounts can be traced back to eyewitnesses. If the second thesis is true then one may be able to argue that Jesus of Nazareth (and others) worked true miracles.

Keener proves the first thesis beyond doubt. Much of the book is a compilation of miracle accounts the author has come across from his social circles (the accounts primarily involve healings but there are a few nature miracles and the appendices address exorcisms). The main point to take home, based on a number of surveys, is that hundreds of millions of people alive today claim that they have witnessed or experienced miraculous healings (p. 205; cf. pp. 238-239, 313, 342, 505-506). Again, it is not that hundreds of millions of people believe in miracles (though that is true too), it is that hundreds of millions of people have witnessed or experienced miracles. The main limitation of this part of the book is that Keener focuses mainly on miracles witnessed by Christians. But it should also be noted that many conversions to Christianity are in response to miracles done in the name of Jesus (pp. 277, 289, 297, 318, 340, 353).

The second thesis will surely be hotly contested.
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You should buy this book, read it, think carefully about the claims it makes, and keep it as a permanent part of your reference library. Make no mistake: Miracles is a very important volume, making one of the most important arguments one can imagine, one that can change your view of the world, and with all kinds of great materials. As a former missionary, I'm glad and sort of disappointed that Keener has let the cat out of the bag: God is alive and working in the world today, whatever David Hume or the Jesus Seminar thinks. (Disappointed because, as a writer, who wouldn't want a scoop like that? I included a couple chapters with stories of miracles and comparing them to what I call "magic," in my 2000 book, Jesus and the Religions of Man, but that is a one page track compared to this book.)

So why did I give Miracles only three stars?

As a book, and as an argument, I think the book has some serious defects.

First of all, Keener offers two distinct arguments here: (1) That miracles are alleged to occur frequently by eyewitnesses and other people close to the facts, therefore one shouldn't assume accounts of miracles in the NT are not also generally credible historical accounts; (2) That there is reason to think some of these miracles really are what they claim to be -- acts of God.

The biggest problem with this book is that Keener spends most of it -- vast expanses of white and black -- on the first, and to my mind trivial, question. Of course people claim that miracles happen today! Who are we trying to convince, people who live in boxes on desert islands? At most, this argument should take up 100 or maybe 150 pages of the book. Instead, most of Keener's evidence goes to this trivial point.

That's a huge waste of space and time, frankly.
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Craig Keener, Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, wrote a 2-vol, 1248 page book on Miracles in 2011. Keener has risked his academic reputation as a New Testament scholar by contradicting the anti-miraculous assumptions of modern scholarship (p. 579).
Keener devotes several chapters to David Hume's classic rejection of miracles. Hume lived 1711-1776. Hume declared that a miracle is a violation of the law of nature. Keener demonstrates logically that Hume's argument categorically dismissed anyone who contradicted his premise. Thus, his argument was not valid. This section gets a little philosophical and tedious.
But then Keener, who was once an atheist himself, asks whether there is any firsthand evidence to support the possibility of miracles. Of course the logic is that if one such account is truly miraculous then the liberal, modernist, Enlightenment presupposition against miracles has been refuted. Keen collected 400 pages of such evidence across the span of history and from all over the world.
Keener closed the first volume with 13 pages of accounts of the blind healed, 13 pages of the lame walking, and 43 pages of accounts of the dead raised to life. Page after page after page of such accounts can get a little monotonous until you start realizing what this means in terms of changed lives, apologetics, church growth, prayer, and a worldview of faith and hope. He has academically buried the classic liberal position and the classic Calvinist cessationist position by simply cataloging the evidence. Neither Craig, nor his African wife identify themselves as Pentecostal, in the classic sense of having spoken in tongues.
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