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Craig S. Keener: Miracles, reviewed by Woodrow Walton

 

Craig S. Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, 2 Volumes (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 1172 pages, ISBN 9780801039522.

All of Keener’s books that this reviewer has seen and read are lengthy. This reviewer owns Keener’s two volume work on The Gospel of John as well as Miracles, the thick one volume on Matthew, and the two volumes so far published on Acts. This is no criticism at all but an observation on the detailed research that Keener undertakes on anything that he does. This reviewer has met Keener in person at Evangelical Theological Society events and have heard him speak, and sat in on a panel discussion with Keener discussing Miracles at the November 2012 Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Milwaukee.

Keener not only looks at the biblical data, particularly that of the New Testament, but also at the miracles reported from the mission field, from reports cited by physicians, and from testimonies by former skeptics. One of the missionaries Keener interviewed and relied upon in composing his work on miracles was Warren Newberry, who just last year—2013—retired from the mission field. This reviewer is personally acquainted with Warren Newberry. What really gives credibility to Keener is his research scholarship evidenced by the massive footnotes which sometimes takes up more space on the page than the text itself. One of his methodologies is that of comparative analysis as between New Testament citations and citations from other ancient sources both extra-biblical and non-biblical. Extra-biblical sources include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical writings, and the Targumic, Rabbinic, and Talmudic writings as well as early christian writings outside of the New Testament text. Keener also furthers the comparative study by examining the patristic writings of Ambrose, Athanasius, Augustine, Basil, John Chrysostom, and other early Christian authors as they relate to both biblical reports and modern testimonials.

Critics face a daunting task if they wish to take issue with the reliability of the reports.

What Keener offers is a narrative; in fact it reads as a narrative of miracles as reported from sources in Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia. Except for a brief discussion of Hume’s disbelief in the miraculous, Keener’s two volumes are replete with personal reports of miracles occurring.

A little over one half of the second volume is a sixty-five page bibliography of secondary sources reporting miraculous events and healings attesting to an open universe in which healings and supernatural interventions happen (pages 885-1050). This is followed by a seven page bibliography of personal correspondence and interviews between Keener and individuals who are identified by name, place, and occasion. Subsequent to these two bibliographies is a three-fold index: an index of authors, an index of scripture references from the Old Testament and the New, and lastly an index of ancient sources running from page 1057 to 1149.

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2014

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

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