Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Apologetics (PhD)
Gary R. Habermas
Philosophy of History, Historical Jesus, Miracles, Resurrection
Christianity | History | History of Christianity | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
Shaw, Benjamin C. F., "Philosophy of History, Historical Jesus Studies, and Miracles: Three Roadblocks to Resurrection Research" (2020). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 2520.
Jesus’ resurrection is considered by many to be a historical event, but objections are often raised regarding to such inquiry into the past. Philosophy of history is thus an important field in which various roadblocks to resurrection research have been raised. These philosophical questions related to the study of the Jesus’ resurrection have become more prominent recently and seek to undermine the very act of historical inquiry into Jesus’ resurrection specifically and the past more generally. Accordingly, the issues addressed here have implications beyond resurrection research. This work seeks to identify and assess three common roadblocks to such research. The first is the question related to the subjectivity historian and whether or not they can have objective knowledge of the past or whether our knowledge of the past is ultimately a mere construction of the historian. We note that both are possible and that what differentiates objective knowledge of the past or a construction of the past is whether or not virtues or vices have been cultivated by the historian. Second, since we can have knowledge of the past, two ways in which it is possible for one to have this knowledge of the past are then presented. We present the Minimal Facts Approach as one possible avenue and note the application of various historical criteria as a second. These are not the only two methods, but two that we believe to provide secure historical knowledge. Lastly, we argue that historians could, in principle, conclude that a miracle has occurred. After offering some philosophical analysis of the issue of miracles and the historian’s craft, we identify and assess to objections to our conclusion. We ultimately conclude that these are more like bumps in the road rather than actual roadblocks that prevent investigation into the past. They should be considered in historical inquiry, but they certainly do not prevent one from investigating Jesus’ resurrection in particular or the past in general.
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