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Keith Warrington: The Miracles in the Gospels

Jesus’ miracles initiated the kingdom of God and a new era.

Third, though Warrington correctly argues, in our view, that Jesus’ miracles initiated the kingdom of God and a new era, he does not explain how this is so. In other words, how are the miracles of Jesus different than those of Moses or the Old Testament Prophets? A more sophisticated—or at least developed—explanation Christologically, eschatologically, or perhaps in a salvation-historical manner was due here. Fourth, at times important controversies are not mentioned, notably the notions surrounding “power” in Luke’s Gospel, such as in 5:17, where “the power of the Lord was with him [Jesus] to heal.” The complex debate between R. Menzies and Max Weber over the use of pneuma and dunamis in Luke concerning miracle was not broached. Perhaps the reader could have at least been alerted to the issues in a note.

Fifth, one may question some of Warrington’s literary connections. For example, is the immediate and startling healing of the bent-over (“once-small woman”) in Luke 13:10–17 analogous to the inauspicious beginnings of the kingdom represented by the Parable of the Mustard Seed in 13:18–19? The association is provocative and possible but not inevitable. Her disabled and disfigured state doesn’t seem to transparently represent or parallel the kingdom’s start. Perhaps the story of Zacchaeus in 19:1–9 would have fit as well or better? Warrington then compares the woman’s 18-year infirmity to the use of eighteen people in the warning by Jesus in Luke 13:4. Perhaps judgment and reversal would serve better thematically than a kingdom-growth analogy. Sixth, an occasional mistake is made. For example, Warrington says (192 n. 12) that the Greek σεισμός is not used anywhere in the NT besides Matthew 8:24. In fact, it is used about fourteen times elsewhere. Maybe Warrington meant to say it is never used to describe a storm but only an earthquake, which is its consistent denotation in the NT. Seventh is a small pet peeve of the reviewer: Warrington repeatedly employs the now common but incorrect use of “begs the question” (e.g., 154) to mean something akin to “broaches” the question rather than its proper use: to assume as true what is yet to be proven. But we quibble.

This stimulating effort is the best recent production on the miracles of Jesus that the reviewer knows of, granting the field is a rather small one. Warrington’s insights, constant supply of supporting lexical and statistical data, identification of unique features in the various Gospels, fresh approach—though traditionally redactional—contextual exegesis, and high reverence for the text and recognition that the miracle stories and the Gospels themselves are primarily about Jesus while not ignoring or failing to interact with or at least recognize scholarship that disagrees with his stance makes this a quality work. Warrington’s text on the miracle stories of Jesus will hopefully prove seminal for future publications about Jesus’ miracles. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by David L. Ricci


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Category: In Depth, Spring 2018

About the Author: David L. Ricci, MA (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), PhD (ABD), is an associate professor in the Bible and Theology Department at Northpoint Bible College in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He has served as an evangelist for many years, served on a pastoral staff, has been a marketplace chaplain, and had two radio shows in Rhode Island. He and his family live in Kingston, New Hampshire.

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