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The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach Paperback – November 7, 2010
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"Licona has tackled his subject energetically, with near-obsessive thoroughness....I am not aware of any scholar who has previously offered such a thorough and fair-minded account of the historiographical prolegomena to the resurrection question." Richard B. Hays, Duke Divinity School
About the Author
Michael R. Licona (Ph.D., University of Pretoria) is associate professor in theology at Houston Baptist University. He is the author of Paul Meets Muhammad (Baker, 2006) and coauthor with Gary Habermas of the award-winning book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel, 2004). Licona is a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Institute for Biblical Research and the Society of Biblical Literature. He is also a frequent speaker on university campuses and at churches, and has appeared on dozens of radio and television programs.
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I am so glad that I did! The controversy worked in my favor, because this book is by far the finest, most comprehensive and most honest work on the resurrection that I have ever read. Although I personally am not convinced of Dr. Licona's interpretation of Matt 27, I am open to it and I must admit that I do not fully understand the genre of apocalyptic imagery as well as he does. Yet that is only 2-3 pages of disagreement in a 700 page gold mine; and one thing that I am sure of is that if Dr. Licona is correct in his interpretation, then it most certainly is compatible with the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy! When scholars like Markus Vinzent are writing books and articles claiming that all four Gospels were written in the 2nd century as responses to Marcion's Luke, such ferocious and defamatory arguments against Dr. Licona by Norman Geisler over the genre of Marr 27:52-53 seem like a waste of time! Surely such a witch hunt is a modern example of the kind of divisiveness that Paul condemned in Corinth.
I really am grateful for Dr. Licona's work on the resurrection and for the detail and open-mindedness with which he investigated the data. His respect for the arguments of other scholars and openness to investigate their views, makes his refutations of them all the more credible and powerful. I must admit that Dr. Geisler's explanations and harmonization's of biblical difficulties are sometimes so ad-hoc that they are prone to create doubt in the most devoted believer. I am grateful to Dr. Licona's work for being so honest and for making just good sense. I can now defend these alleged difficulties with confidence
What surprised me most about this book is the very conservative stand Licona took on irrefutable facts. By conservative, I don't mean politically conservative or religiously conservative, but rather extremely reserved in what he used as the basis of his argument.
Licona accepts only three inarguable points:
1. Jesus Christ was crucified and died.
2. The apostles claimed to have seen Jesus bodily alive after his death and were changed.
3. Paul of Tarsus claimed to have seen Jesus bodily alive after his death and was radically changed.
I was a bit disappointed that there was only minimal discussion of the empty tomb. Licona does not rely heavily on the gospels but rather on 1 Cor. 15:3-5 as the earliest account of Christ's fate. That passage is oral tradition, he says, passed directly from the eyewitness apostles to Paul and predates the gospels by a decade or two. Unbelievers may argue that, but it certainly tends to deflate the "gospels aren't reliable sources" argument.
Licona takes on various "resurrection hypotheses" promoted by other Bible scholars and he does a devastating job of dismantling each one. Some are patently absurd and have no basis in either fact or history. It doesn't take much to torpedo them. Others are reasonable but he points out their serious flaws.
I'm no Bible scholar, but I do know Scripture fairly well and I have a basic understanding of Christian theology. This book is readable, though only on a few occasions does Licona lapse into a colloquial style. It's not stuffy, as you'd expect a dissertation to be, but there are times it bogs down.
It's because of these style problems that I gave it four stars instead of five. Maybe you have to write in a fairly academic style to be taken seriously by academics. I felt it could have been livelier, given the subject matter.
Still, it's a monumental work in furthering the case for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you are a nonbeliever with an open mind, it will make you think. If you are already a believer, it will help you see how this event stands up to the demanding standards of professional historians.
I recommend it as a worthwhile, mind-enlarging read.
Most recent customer reviews
Well written with great detail. Licona takes nothing for granted and will dive deep into reasons for and against almost every point he makes from the sources to...Read more