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Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts [Kindle Edition]

Craig S. Keener
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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. New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume's argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. This wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Drawing on claims from a range of global cultures and taking a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, Keener suggests that many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.

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. That statement is truer than ever today when we look at the booming churches of Africa and Asia. Craig Keener's 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

"Craig 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

"Keener deals not just with the biblical evidence for miracles but also with the vast evidence from all over the world that miracles of various sorts happen. He shows that whatever the merits of Hume's claim in his own day, it can hardly be maintained today that 'miracles are not a part of normal experience and are not widely attested.' 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

"Craig Keener's magisterial two-volume study of miracles is an astounding accomplishment. The book covers far more than the subtitle implies, because Keener places the debate over the biblical miracles in many different contexts, including the philosophical debate over miracles, views of miracles in the ancient world, contemporary evidence for miracles, and the relationship of the issue to science. 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

"Craig Keener has written arguably the best book ever on the subject of miracles. He places the miracles of Jesus and his followers in a full and rich context that includes philosophy, history, theology, exegesis, comparative religion, cultural anthropology, and firsthand observation and testimony. There is nothing like it. Keener's 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. In Miracles, Craig Keener offers an invaluable example of how that enrichment can take place through hard scholarly work and a passion for integrity. 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

Product Details

  • File Size: 3925 KB
  • Print Length: 1248 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; Pck edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007KOI2PY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,978 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miracles may be more abundant than you think 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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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
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.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book with some big flaws. September 8, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking in scope and depth, these two volumes are ...
Breathtaking in scope and depth, these two volumes are a must read for believers and skeptics alike. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Saved my life
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... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Scott Pursley
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best, Most Detailed Study of Miracles, Possessions, and Current...
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... Read more
Published 4 months ago by W. Sid Vogel
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but extremely wordy.
I have not completed the work, but I have gotten through the 1st point and his refutation of David Hume. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Paroder
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, profoundly unsatisfying
I read this book with a sincere desire to learn anything I could about miracles taking place in the modern age. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Romathon
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholar investigates miracles in the New Testament and other cultures
The followers of Jesus claimed he performed miracles, and the fact that Jesus was widely known as a healer was attested to even by those hostile to the claims, such as Celsus. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Academic, but insightful
This is a challenging read at first, but once you get used to Keener's writing it is enjoyable. This is a very thorough and exhaustive look at miracles and healing today.
Published 16 months ago by Eric Whitley
4.0 out of 5 stars We need more of this!
Craig Keener is a New Testament scholar who wasn't happy with the general view in academia that miracles cannot happen. Read more
Published 18 months ago by unkleE
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a "written" miracle in itself!
This is the most extraordinary book on miracles in the modern world! You want evidence for miracles? Read this work by Dr.Keener! Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mark Grago
5.0 out of 5 stars Few such kind of book
When I want to study Jesus's miracles, I found that it is not easy to get some detail or deeper reference. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Michael Kam-Chung Lee
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More About the Author

Craig Keener is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. Three of his many books have won national awards, and his background commentary has sold over half a million copies (including electronic copies and translations). Craig is married to Dr. Medine Moussounga Keener, who holds a Ph.D. from University of Paris 7. She was a refugee for 18 months in her nation of Congo, and together Craig and Médine work for ethnic reconciliation in the U.S. and Africa.

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