on November 25, 2011
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. He argues persuasively against those who follow David Hume in presupposing that miracles cannot occur. "It is impossible to prove a negative by induction when one has observed a limited range of data, and it is precarious to infer an inflexibly negative rule by induction when abundant eyewitness claims exist that one merely refuses to admit as evidence" (p. 167). The truly open-minded historian will at least consider a supernatural explanation a possibility.
The weakness in this argument is that the author does not explicitly outline specific criteria on which to determine whether a supernatural explanation is the best explanation. However, I discern some criteria. The first is that events which contradict the laws of nature (where the term "laws of nature" can be defined in multiple ways) may have supernatural explanations. The second is that if a number of occurrences meeting the first criterion cluster around a particular factor (e.g., one person's prayers) then this is statistically significant and increases the probability of there being a causal link between the event and the factor in question (p. 687). The third criterion is that if certain kinds of events meeting the first criterion occur more readily in religious contexts (e.g., in response to prayer) then it is more probable that religion plays a causal role in such events.
Despite such criteria not being laid out as clearly as I would like, I cannot offer any remotely plausible natural explanations for many of the events mentioned in this book. I am talking about body parts regrowing quickly in public view, goiters disappearing quickly in public view, blindness cured, deafness cured, broken bones being healed nearly instantly and being confirmed by X-rays, and the raising of the dead. And this does not appear to be due to my (or Keener's) medical ignorance. Fifty-five percent of physicians claimed to have seen treatment results in their patients that they would consider miraculous (p. 721).
Craig S. Keener summarizes his hypothesis like so (pp. 740-741): "Since too many of the examples above seem implausible to me as pure coincidence, particularly cumulatively, I prefer a different hypothesis: a personal God ready and able to heal, but one who also often allows created nature to take its own course and who is not manipulated by formulas, as perhaps an impersonal or merely psychological force could be. Although miracles are consistent with the character of the biblical God, we cannot always predict a personal deity's future actions, especially when our knowledge about the factors involved in those actions are limited. If miracles happened with absolute regularity, we would view them as part of the course of nature; their occurrence beyond providence in nature allows them to function more specifically as signs revealing God's activity and character."
Overall, I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in NT history and/or miracles. It may also edify Christian believers.
on September 8, 2013
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. Because the other issue is SO much more important, and so much more in dispute.
Keener bloviates way too much in this book. He ought to focus on this second question and deal with it thoroughly, inexorably, with powerful first-hand evidence and detailed medical reports that are difficult to gainsay. Little by little, in fits and drabs, he DOES offer powerful evidence that miracles really do occur. But the majority of his evidence, is only required to meet the much lower standards demanded by question (1).
For instance, he cites many sources and then says, essentially, "I didn't study this claim enough to be sure it is accurate, but it does go to show that such claims are common." Of course they are! So what?
I recognized a couple sources that I personally do not much trust -- mud sprinkled among the gold. This will not do, it undermines the rest of the evidence. Cut the book in half, and just give us the gold.
The book also meanders a lot. Again, Keener needed a more severe editor, in my opinion. (If you need help, Baker, give me a call!)
Keener does deal well, and rather decisively I think, with Hume's philosophical objections (which were obviously circular, anyway), and his empirical assumptions are now officially toast.
I've recommended this two-volume book to many people, and I recommend it to you, too. But I hope Baker translates this into a single-volume paperback that is more readable, shorter, focused, and to the actual point.
Craig Keener's book was a bit more than what I expected when I ordered it. "Miracles, the Credibility of The New Testament Accounts" comes in two volumes. Volume 2 is almost all bibliography. That should say something right there about the exhaustive work that Keener put into researching material for this work. He does not just take someone's word for it, he actually goes back and searches out what is stated by historians as well as Theologians and eyewitnesses.
The book does not just discuss New Testament Miracles (which is what I thought it was going to do). Instead it starts with discussing the New Testament account of miracles, mainly the four Gospels and the Book of Acts and leads to a scholarly discussion of historical accounts that would add credibility to the miracles expressed in the writing of the New Testament. He then goes on to further discuss the history of Miracles and the credit given to eyewitness accounts to add validity to the headings that take place.
In Part One there is a major discussion of the New Testament accounts. But then there is lots of information regarding the "healing pools" of the Greeks, the Persians, the Egyptians and other cultures and how those were significant in the way the culture of Jesus time viewed healers / healing waters and the issue of Miracles. It is a fascinating discussion with lots of background information going into his thesis.
Part two of the book deals with the question, "Are Miracles Possible?" This section looks at the criterion used by the ancients to determine whether a miracle had taken place as well as to look at the modern culture and how we critique and review miracles that have taken place. Further Keener delves deeply into the questions of the "Skeptics" who don't hold fondly to the idea of Miracles. Further what about the Philosophical questions that were raised by scholars as to whether Miracles were real or not.
Then Part Three of the text goes into Miracle Accounts beyond Antiquity. This is where Keener takes off from New Testament times and starts to look at the Majority world perspective on miracles and what is going on in each of the cultures from the Middle East to Africa, China, the Pacific and so on. This is where I thought the text went so much further than what I first thought it was going to do. Keener doesn't just research the New Testament times but he goes beyond that and brings us to even current day events. Part Three is a modern day account of the miracles still taking place in our world. For those who are skeptical they need to give a reasonable look at Keener's work and then also at the work of the Catholic Church. The Vatican has a whole department that researches miracles so that they can give "sainthood" to the Priests and Nuns of their faith who over the years have performed "miracles."
The idea of miracles is not just relegated to the Christian Church. There are miracles happening all over the world. Some from what we might consider demonic sources, but many from what are claimed to be Christian sources.
After reading through this work (yes it takes a while it is fairly long) you will be left with a fascination of New Testament and modern day miracles.
As the mission pastor at my church I hear of modern day miracles all the time from credible sources. I don't always like hearing about them, because it is not in my comfort zone, but I know miracles can still happen. So, I was excited to see Keener's work on Miracles and even more fascinated once I started to read.
This book is a great book for serious Bible students, Scholars, Pastors and Theologians that get their kicks delving into such interesting topics.
This book probably isn't for the average lay person who just is curious about Miracles. Maybe we can get Keener to write a "Cliff's Notes" version the curious.
on June 20, 2015
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. Without embracing the extremes and excesses of historic Pentecostalism, it must be given credit for breaking the mindset of Western rationalism and making a supernatural worldview legitimate.
Keener opens volume two by anticipating all of the possible alternate explanations which could be given to the documented “miracles.” After allowing for the possibility of psychosomatic healing, the placebo effect, as well as outright fraud, none of these explanations are sufficient to cover hundreds of millions of people who have claimed to have witnessed a miracle. It would be reductionistic to claim that every case of the miraculous can be sufficiently explained in naturalistic terms. While some physicians would rather claim that they misdiagnosed the case rather than to admit a miraculous healing had occurred, if that is the case, there have been enough cases of “misdiagnosis” to warrant an investigation of such prevalent misdiagnosis within the medical community!
Finally, Keener shares twenty-two accounts of miracles that he has witnessed or which was reported to him by a trusted friend. Although I have not met Dr. Keener, I am happy to share two of those respected friends with him. Keener set up a grid:
• a description of the healing claim
• how do I know the witness?
• psychosomatic element possible?
• how frequent are such events normally?
• supernatural explanation seems more plausible than not?
His conclusion in every instance was that if miracles were not categorically ruled out as a legitimate possibility, that the most logical explanation was that it was miraculous.
In the interest of full disclosure, I confess that I believed in the possibility of miracles prior to reading this book. I do not identify myself as Pentecostal, having never spoken in tongues. I do not identify myself as Calvinist, while affirming the authority and inerrancy of Scripture (along with Keener).
In 1961 I contracted spinal meningitis and was in a coma for six days. I was placed in the isolation ward of Providence Hospital in Kansas City. My parents were told that I would be an invalid for the rest of my life and that they would need to be trained on how to care for me.
My grandfather got up in the middle of the night and drove to my pastor’s home. Dr. Dale Yocum, my pastor, had a masters degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a PhD from the University of Kansas. He and my grandfather received divine assurance that God would heal me. The next day I sat up in bed and word spread through the hospital that a miracle had occurred. I went home five days later. That account was published in two denominational magazines and in Conformed to Christ which my pastor published in 1962. That was 54 years ago and I have lived a normal life. Needless to say, I have never been swayed by the arguments of David Hume nor of cessationist Calvinists. But I am happy that Keener has laid both theories to rest with this massive research project.
on June 17, 2014
I did not want to spend this much on a book on the discussion of Miracles, but in my searching this seemed to be the most exhaustive study and analysis of this phenomenon I have come across. I bought the two volumes planning to look through them and donate them to the Library. I have just finished volume 2, and I do not plan to donate this set to any library until I am gone, and then I will leave them to my heirs. This is the most exhaustively documented study of this issue that one can find and read. It is readable, organized, interesting, and hugely informative. If you are a child of the Enlightenment and Post-Modernism seeps into your soul, you dismiss miracle accounts as the "God of the Gaps" explanation of people who can not explain what they have experienced or seen. We moderns think that these "ignorant folk' just don't have enough education to understand the natural world, and since scientists on TV discount the supernatural, so should we all. Then Keener does a bunch of research and shows that that majority of the world has always believed in miracles, and about 90 of the people today, in the era of cell phones, and TVs still believe in miracles. Some 70 % have experienced or know someone who has experienced a miracle and almost 60% of doctors claim to have experienced miraculous healing! Now, maybe there is something to this supernatural stuff that requires the examination of modern analytic researchers. If you are interested in the most documented study ever of the available evidence of personal miracles, read this book. I heartily recommend it, and I thank the author for having the courage in this day and age to produce this study.
on November 4, 2012
For my birthday back in September, my in-laws got me the two-volume set of Craig Keener's "Miracles." There are 884 pages of content here and several pages of notes. The message you should definitely get from that at the start is that Keener is not taking a lazy approach. Keener has done plentiful research on the topic of miracles. I can say without reservation that from now on, anyone who has not dealt with the claims found in this book is not qualified to speak on the topic of miracles.
To the surprise of most people, Keener spends relatively little time on the miracles in the gospels at the start and answering questions concerning early Christian claims of miracles. Why? Because he is not writing this to explain how the early Christians saw miracles, as important as that is, or the historicity of the miracles, also an important question, but rather to deal with the treatment of modern thinking today in regards to miracles. Many will say we cannot take the gospels and Acts seriously if they contain miracles since we all know miracles don't happen. Well, all of us except these ignorant religious people. Educated people know better!
Keener is educated. It seems that he didn't get that memo.
Of course, he does spend some time looking at the miracles and in conjunction with his main claim that miracles are possible and in fact ongoing, he states on page 25 that none of the sources in antiquity responding to the claim that Jesus did miracles tried to deny that. (Note also to some others out there ignorant on another related front, none of them tried to deny that he even existed) Most of them would say he did his miracles by dark powers. This is an important claim. They realized that strange happenings were connected with the ministry of Jesus and could not be denied. This would mean it was part of the essential historical kerygma, something central to the teaching of the early church, and something so well-attested that no one wanted to deny it.
In fact, Paul in his epistles in Romans 15:18-19 speaks about working wonders, and there is no doubt that Paul wrote Romans. In 2 Corinthians 12:12, Paul lays claim to his right to be called an apostle by telling the Corinthians that he worked miracles amongst them. Note this is a letter where his credibility is being called into question. It will not help that credibility to make a claim that his opponents know to be false. He is appealing to knowledge that they already have.
Of course, when miracles come up, the question asked is "What about Hume?" As one who has done internet debates, I've reached the point several times in the debate when miracles comes up that I will say "Okay. Go ahead and give Hume." You would think that no one else really said anything worthwhile about miracles after Hume came out, as if he put the nail in the coffin with an argument that no one has dealt with.
The reality is its more likely that in philosophy everyone and their mother has dealt with Hume. His argument was criticized then and it is being criticized now. People who automatically assume Hume is the last word are more likely looking for something to cement their beliefs that they already hold and are unwilling to go looking further. It is odd that these people will usually tell us about science being so much better since it can correct its mistakes and relies on the latest study (Which is true by the way, that is the way science works), but they seem to reject that when it comes to philosophical dialogue.
Of course, Hume being 200+ years old does not make him wrong. I am a Thomist, for instance, and I realize Aquinas was around 800 years ago. That does not make him wrong. The difference is I have also done some of the reading in Thomistic thought since then. I realize that people have critiqued Aquinas since his own time. (Yes people. Back in the medieval period, the theologians critiqued one another's arguments and wanted only the best ones) There are several people who still hold strongly to Thomistic thought today, like myself, but it also does not mean we have to hold everything he did. (I'm Protestant, for instance, although some have argued that Aquinas would be considered a Protestant today as well. That is not the purpose of this review of course.)
In dealing with Hume, Keener does admit that he is not a philosopher, but his sources are the philosophical sources. This is important to admit. Keener knows when he is not speaking from his area of expertise, so he has gone to others who are experts and shared their thoughts. Most devastating is a critique he shares from David Johnson in Cornell University Press:
"The view that there is in Hume's essay, or in what can be reconstructed from it, any argument or reply or objection that is even superficially good, much less, powerful, or devastating, is simply a philosophical myth. The most willing hearers who have been swayed by Hume on this matter have been held captive by nothing other than Hume's great eloquence." (Page 169)
Ouch. That's quite an indictment.
Looking at the question of history, one statement that has driven my research in this area is that that Bart Ehrman gave to my father-in-law, Mike Licona, in a debate at SES. Ehrman repeatedly made a statement along the lines of "History can only tell you what people do. It cannot tell you about the actions of God." Keener says in a statement that seems to have Ehrman in mind on page 186 that
"History as history might not pass judgment on whether or not an occurrence (such as the resurrection) was a <em>miracle</em> ( a theological judgment involving philosophic questions about God's existence and activity), but it can seek to address whether or not an event literally happened.
In a radio debate on Unbelievable? with Licona, Ehrman was stating that historians can agree universally upon a number of events in history, but they don't agree on the resurrection. How can we treat it as historical then? The problem would be that too many historians are likely approaching with presuppositions beforehand that state miracles cannot happen. Therefore, they come to the account of the resurrection and can say "I don't know what happened, but I know right off it wasn't resurrection." This is no longer doing history. It is doing philosophy under the guise of history.
It is not fair history to come to the data beforehand saying "The conclusion of a miracle cannot happen" and then looking at the data and construing it in such a way to exclude the miracle. In that case, it is clear that the belief one holds is influencing the data rather than the other way around. Of course, for the sake of argument, it could be that the resurrection did not happen, but that needs to be determined on historical grounds and not philosophical ones.
Before we get back to Hume, Keener wants to point us to the Majority World, that is, the world that has not been saturated with Enlightenment thinking. On page 212 Keener states "The claim that no one in the modern world believes in miracles (a claim once seriously offered by some scholars as an answer to the question of miracles, as I have noted) is now too evidently irresponsible to be seriously entertained."
Will Keener back this statement? Yes. It is a strong statement in the face of academia and if Keener is correct, as I believe he is, it is not because of new data or arguments per se, but it is because of an unwillingness on the part of the academy to consider perspectives apart from their own. It has been by an arrogance that has written off too many people as "uneducated" and thus not worthy of contributing to the conversation.
And sadly, this is shown well in Hume. On pages 223-4, we have a quote from Hume:
"I am apt to suspect the Negroes and in general all of the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation. No indigenous manufacturers amongst them, no arts, no sciences."
Some could answer "Okay. Hume was a racist. It doesn't mean he's wrong." On its face, no. It doesn't. There is something important here. Hume is automatically excluding the testimony of anyone that is not amongst his circle of people he considers educated. Who are the educated? Those are the ones who don't believe in miracles. If anyone believes in them, surely he cannot be educated. He must be some backwater person. Therefore, all educated people don't believe in miracles. It is a lovely piece of circular reasoning.
Hume goes on to say
"Not to mention our colonies, there are Negro slaves dispersed all over Europe, of which none ever discovered any symptoms of ingenuity, tho' low people without education will start up amongst us [whites], and distinguish themselves in every profession. IN Jamaica indeed they talk of one Negro as a man of parts and learning, but 'tis likely he is admired for very slender accomplishments, like a parrot, who speaks a few words plainly."
To say "'Tis likely" indicates that Hume has heard a claim and has not bothered to really investigate it. He has just made an assumption based on his prior notion of the black race. Keener, however, does know who the Jamaican is and says "The Jamaican whom Hume compares with a parrot stimulating speech was Francis Williams, a Cambridge graduate whose poetry in Latin was well known."
Sound like an uneducated parrot with slender accomplishments to anyone else? I didn't think so.
Okay. But surely today claims or miracles aren't common. If they are, it must be amongst the Pentecostal movement (Of which I am not one) and we know they really like to talk about miracles! No. In fact, under the sub-heading on page 239 of "Such claims not limited to Pentecostals" Keener writes "But those who would simply reject all healing claims today because Hume argued that such claims are too rare to be believable should keep in mind that they are dismissing, almost without argument, the claimed experiences of at least a few hundred million people."
So let's give a quick synopsis then of the data that Keener has because it covers several hundred pages all over the world. Keener admits he is not a doctor, but he tries to get medical documentation of such claims. Even if he does not have them, he realizes that we should not reject testimony ipso facto just because it disagrees with our beliefs. People may be wrong about seeing a miracle or interpret some event wrongly or have a psychosomatic healing. Some of these do not fall into this category. If someone knows someone who is blind, as an example, and prays for them, and they suddenly regain their sight, would that person not be justified in believing a miracle has taken place? Keener says some healings could be coincidence, but that they are consistently connected with prayer goes against the idea that they are coincidence.
Keener also points out that many people in these settings are in fact educated. He has testimonies of his own wife who is quite educated. PH.D.s and doctors and others all claim to have seen such events. Again, even if some people are uneducated who see these claims, they may not have the full knowledge of the natural world, but they know enough to know when something happens that does not normally happen.
Keener also readily admits that miracles do not always take place. I took special note to highlight several times in the book that he makes a claim along those lines. There are people who are not healed in response to prayer. That does not negate the fact of the many people who are. If just one of these numerous numerous claims is true, then it seems that the idea that miracles do not happen is highly suspect, and it is quite likely that more than one is true. (Indeed, I found myself praying for the healing of the loved ones in my life. My own wife suffers from depression and when I read about people being healed of depression, I made it a point to pray more for that. I realized in my own thinking I too had taken on more of skepticism than I realized. If God can raise His Son from the dead as I proclaim, then healing depression is simple. Of course, if He does not, then I must just trust He has some reason. He is not obligated to tell me what it is)
Keener also looks at healing ministries. One noted case he looks at is Kathryn Kuhlman. Many of you, like me do get suspicious hearing that name, but Keener wanted to be objective in his analysis. He does point out that Kuhlman said that not everyone gets healed and that she has no problem with modern medicine. God gave us brains and we should use them. She would not have objected to someone checking with a doctor to see about their healing.
In fact, he points out that some journalists sent to investigate the claims of Kuhlman came out believing the cases after research. Of course, not all cases are bona fide. Healing doesn't always happen and there could be times someone thought themselves healed when they were not. Keener's warning for times like this is that you do not look at the false reports and lump all the reports in with them.
Keener also does in fact tell of times when people had fingers grow back and legs grow right before the eyes of people. So in answer to the question of "Why doesn't God heal amputees?" Keener would reply "Who says He doesn't?" Keener has some cases of such events taking place. It is more likely that those who do not find such cases do not find them because they have not really looked, or perhaps think the only people worth listening to with such a claim would readily have access to YouTube and film such an event, because everyone knows when a miracle is going to take place after all.
Keener spends most of book 2 dealing with objections to his idea, and these are quite weak. He does point out objections even from Christians who would often want to discredit healing ministers who came through an area. Now of course, one should always be cautious. One must also realize that healing does not mean all the particulars of theology are correct. There are healing at Lourdes, a Catholic site, and there are healings in Protestant communities. Still, too many have stacked the deck in advance by saying they will only accept natural explanations or some natural explanation must be forthcoming eventually and one day we'll find out what it is. Such thinking would fall into a "Naturalism-of-the-gaps" paradigm.
Also, there is the stigma against miracles in the academy where one by claiming a miracle has happened can automatically have their intellectual stature lowered. Such an approach encourages scholars to not really be open to the claims of miracles, which is a tragedy for the history department since one is no longer doing history at that point but more philosophy. Keener contends we need more openness to opposing ideas in the academy. I agree.
Keener also takes the time to answer the question of "What about video tapes?" I find such an objection quite absurd, as one does not normally know when a miraculous event will take place, nor can one set one up as if God was a machine to respond the way we want Him to when we want Him to. Still, there is an obvious problem with video tapes we all know about today.
A show my wife and I have watched together numerous times is "Fact or Faked?" It has a group of investigators trying to see if an event normally caught on video tape is in fact a paranormal event or if it is a mistake or a hoax. There are some times where they approach someone about the video they've made and asked "Is this a hoax?" and get the answer of "Yes." People do hoax videos quite often. We live in a day and age where we can go to a Cinema and watch events that would supposedly be "filmed" that we know are not real. We know about what photoshop can do. Yet with all of this, some people still think that if there had been video tape, that would conclusively settle the matter. Keener does point to some sources on video, but I will contend that to those who are not open, the response will be "faked!"
Finally, Keener ends by looking at cases in the appendices of exorcisms, demonic activity, visions and dreams, and how people saw the natural law in antiquity and later on prior to our time. Each of these sections is worthwhile in themselves. Going through these sections, as well as the rest of the book, I found myself thinking that I need to realize that God could be active in far more ways than I realize. No doubt, I'll still be skeptical of a lot of claims, but I've found myself for my own research asking people if they know of any miracle claims, and it's quite amazing to see how many people do have such examples.
Overall, Keener's book is essential reading on the topic of miracles and the question of if they have them today. No one in the academy will be able to argue against the possibility of miracles without dealing with Keener's excellent research.
on July 1, 2014
I found this life-changing. There is so much nonsense being promoted by Pentecostal extremism. I found myself growing in cynicism and a whole rationalistic approach to the Christian faith. It was though I had begun to relate to God like a set of principals, with little expectation of God moving in power. As I've been working through Dr. Keener's careful study of the miraculous I've found myself wanting to pray for the sick in a much more faith filled manner. I know there is no formula for healing, and that these 'signs' are given according to the sovereign purposes of God. But two weeks ago I took a little more initiative and prayed for a young man, who has had a severe condition limiting his ability to speak and sing (some kind of throat condition, that has lingered for the past 5 years). He literally has been able to sing (and the kid is a worship leader and musician). Anyway - for the first time in 5 years last Thursday he began to sing again.
on July 4, 2014
Breathtaking in scope and depth, these two volumes are a must read for believers and skeptics alike. However this masterwork is written at a seminary level and may be a challenging undertaking for undergrads.
on January 5, 2012
If I someday finish reading this amazing book(s) I will have taken a look at most of what has been written about miracles almost anywhere and will know who wrote it plus a general outlook of each one. However, each page forces me to stop and ponder in a new light almost everything I took for granted. That's why I wonder if I'll really ever finish this book. Plus, the notes are almost another book inside the book.
I recommend this book for laymen and specialists interested in the theme of miracles, or more appropriately signs of non natural occurrences that are labeled as miracles by faith. Lastly, the general theme of credibility that permeates the work is very sensibly placed throughout the narrative as a means to put into correct perspectives the prevalent attitudes about this issue in our own time noting that in this respect we are not far away of our predecessors. Miracle stories then, now and probably forever, depend on the credibility of those who attest them. That's why we will never cease to discuss about them.
on April 23, 2013
This is the most extraordinary book on miracles in the modern world! You want evidence for miracles? Read this work by Dr.Keener! First off,in the ancient world,almost all historians recorded miracles;however,I do believe that Thucydides was an exception;he is just one. Most of the miracles recorded(in the ancient world) were at least a hundred years after they occured;surprisingly,we are still skeptical...why? The gospels(preferably Mark because it is the oldest)record the miracles of Christ 60-70 years after their occurence.It is not logical to just "assume" that miracles are conjectures or supportive claims by biased authors and historians.Consider this: what are the earliest sources we have for the existence of Alexander the Great? Answer:almost 300 years after he lived!(We do not dispute that he never existed,do we?)While this work is VERY extensive,it is EXTREMELY well documented and researched. Dr. Keener also makes candid notation on evidence of miracles that have taken place in the last 25 years.This work is of exceptional importance to the student of biblical miracles as well as to the agnostic and atheist alike.