Document Type Doctoral Thesis Author Licona, Michael Ren email@example.com URN etd-04022009-190941 Document Title The historicity of the resurrection of Jesus : historiographical considerations in the light of recent debates Degree PhD Department New Testament Studies Supervisor
Advisor Name Title Prof J G van der Watt Supervisor Keywords
- historical method
- social sciences
Date 2009-04-18 Availability unrestricted AbstractDale Allison refers to the historical question pertaining to Jesus’ resurrection as “the prize puzzle of New Testament research.” More than 2,500 journal articles and books have been written on the subject since 1975. In this dissertation, I investigate the question while providing unprecedented interaction with the literature of professional historians outside of the community of biblical scholars on both hermeneutical and methodological considerations. Chapter one is devoted to discussions pertaining to the philosophy of history and historical method, such as the extent to which the past is knowable, how historians gain a knowledge of it, the impact biases have on investigations and steps that may assist historians in minimizing their biases, the role a consensus should or should not play in historical investigations, who shoulders the burden of proof, and the point at which a historian is warranted in declaring that a historical question has been solved. I seek to determine how historians outside of the community of biblical scholars generally proceed in their investigations involving non-religious matters and establish a similar approach for proceeding in my investigation of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. In chapter two, I address objections to the investigation of miracle-claims by historians from a number of prominent scholars. My conclusion is that their objections warrant that extra caution should be taken by historians investigating miracle claims but are ill-founded in terms of prohibiting a historical investigation of Jesus’ resurrection. Historians must identify the relevant sources from which they will mine data for their investigations. In chapter three, I survey the primary literature relevant to our investigation and rate them according to their value to an investigation pertaining to Jesus’ resurrection. I limit this survey to sources that mention the death and resurrection of Jesus and that were written within two hundred years of Jesus’ death. I then rate each according to the likelihood that it contains data pertaining to Jesus’ death and resurrection that go back to the earliest Christians, and identify the sources most promising for the present investigation. In chapter four, I mine through this most promising material and form a collection of relevant facts that are so strongly evidenced that they enjoy a heterogeneous and nearly universal consensus granting them. These comprise our historical bedrock upon which all hypotheses pertaining to Jesus’ fate must be built. In chapter five, I apply the methodological considerations discussed in chapter one and weigh six hypotheses largely representative of those being offered in the beginning of the twenty-first century pertaining to the question of the resurrection of Jesus. I conclude that the hypothesis that Jesus rose from the dead is not only the best explanation of the relevant historical bedrock, it outdistances its competitors by a significant margin and meets the criteria for awarding historicity. Of course, this conclusion is provisional, since future discoveries may require its revision or abandonment. It also makes no assertions pertaining to the nature of Jesus’ resurrection body nor claims to address the question of the cause of Jesus’ resurrection.
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Please cite as follows:
Licona, M 2008, The historicity of the resurrection of Jesus : historiographical considerations in the light of recent debates, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-04022009-190941/ >
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