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Jesus, Interrupted - Book Report

Autor:   •  April 11, 2013  •  Book/Movie Report  •  613 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,525 Views

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Miracles in Historical Context

In the book “Jesus, Interrupted”, the author Bart Ehrman makes a claim that miracles, by definition cannot be considered a historical or factual probability. Since miracles defy the laws of nature and our apparent reality, miracles must then be least likely scenario in a historical event or context that must be true. This view of how historians study history is based on empirical evidence, and Ehrman’s claims rest heavily on the notion that historians must determine what is most likely the pure fact of the matter instead of just the message or result of what happened.

This approach to history is based on a sort of investigative, Sherlock Holmes-esque approach where using the evidence to eliminate as many outcomes as possible is the best way to determine truth. To the modern mind, this is the best way to view and learn about history and due to this process; miracles cannot even be considered because they defy the laws of nature. Even the most ridiculous proposition for what happened is more likely than a miracle if it follows basic laws of nature and reality.

As Ehrman points out, “In Jesus’ day there were lots of people who allegedly performed miracles.”(Ehrman) This is an important characteristic of the ancient and specifically Roman world that must be pointed out. Contemporaries of Jesus were commonly transformed into legend after their lives were over, most notably Octavian Augustus. While Octavian was indeed a real person and was one of the most efficient rulers in human history, the Senate declared him an official God after his death in 14 A.D. A critic of Christianity could point out that deification of a deceased and beloved leader was a common practice in the Roman world and perhaps Jesus may not have been any different.

Not only are miracles or magic in general to be discounted in historical analysis, but Ehrman also says that specifically in Jesus’


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