June 15, 2011

Christ’s Miracles (Notes)

by Nathan Busenitz


[1] William Lane Craig; cited from Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 314.

[2] Wolfgang Trilling; cited from Paul Copan and Ronald Tacelli, eds., Jesus’ Resurrection, Fact or Figment? (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 181.

[3] Graham H. Twelftree, in Jesus the Exorcist (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1993), 207 argues persuasively that “it is false to think that Jesus’ contemporaries considered him to be a magician,” but that this was a charge that was invented centuries later. Our purpose here is simply to show that, because it was undeniable that Jesus did something, His opponents desperately searched for alternative explanations than those given by Jesus Himself.

[4] Cited from Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud (Princeton University Press, 2007), 35.

[5] Cf. Ibid., 52–62.

[6] Ibid., 61–62.

[7] Bernard Ramm in Protestant Christian Evidences, 143 points out that, “Pagan miracles lack the dignity of Biblical miracles. They are frequently grotesque and done for very selfish reasons. They are seldom ethical or redemptive and stand in marked contrast to the chaste, ethical, and redemptive nature of the miracles of Christ. Nor do they have the genuine attestation that Biblical miracles have.”

[8] Cf. David K. Clark, “Miracles in the World Religions,” 199–213, In Defense of Miracles, edited by R. Douglas Geivett and Gary R. Habermas (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 207–8. Clark  responds convincingly to the charge that Jesus was merely a magician. Clark shows that there were significant differences between Jesus’ miracles and the supposed miracles of other “magicians.” For example, while magicians usually used objects in their work, combined with incantations and spells, Jesus simply spoke, commanding demons and diseases on the basis of His own authority.

[9] Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, 49–51 asserts that some of the rabbinic stories about Rabbi Eliezer may have been representative of Jesus. In one such account, Eliezer’s message is confirmed by miracles and an audible voice from heaven. Yet, the other rabbis reject it nonetheless, because it goes against their established traditions. If Schäfer is right, his conclusions give us an interesting insight into why the Jews rejected Jesus even after His message was confirmed by miracles and a voice from heaven.

[10] Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 69; cited from Colin Brown, Miracles and the Critical Mind (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1984), 4.

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Nathan Busenitz

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Nathan serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master's Seminary in Los Angeles.