Why New Testament Miracles Shouldn’t Disqualify the Gospels
by J Warner Wallace
Many critics point to the presence of the miraculous to make a case for late dating. Surely the miracles are works of fiction. If the gospel accounts were written early, eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus would have exposed these miracles as fictitious, right? Much of this critical analysis comes from a literary discipline known as “form criticism.” Form critics attempt to classify portions of Scripture on the basis of their literary “type,” “pattern,” or “form.” Once these pieces are isolated within the larger narrative, form critics attempt to explain their origin. In the case of the Gospels, form critics have argued that the supernatural elements are different from those parts of the narrative that can be trusted as accurate history. They explain the “paradigms,” “sayings,” “miracle stories,” and “legends”46 as late additions inserted by local Christian communities to make a particular theological case or to present Jesus as something more than He was.
But, by now you probably recognize that the presupposition of naturalism (and the bias against supernaturalism) is once again the impetus behind this criticism. The form critics of history (a movement that was most popular in the mid-twentieth century) simply rejected the possibility that any description of a miracle could be factually true. It turns out that it was the miraculous “content” of these passages, rather than their common literary style or form, that caused critics to identify the verses they thought should be removed or handled with suspicion…
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