Item description for Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical and Theological Study by Graham Twelftree...
Overview Was Jesus the Miracle Worker that generations have believed him to be? Or was he merely a master psychologist, a purveyor of paranormal therapy? And what should we make of his stilling the storm or feeding the five thousand? In this comprehensive textbook study, Graham Twelftree evaluates Jesus' own understanding of the miracles he performed, the historical reliability of the stories, and the way the modern mind views Christ's miracles. Fascinating!
Publishers Description "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching?proclaiming?and healing every disease and every sickness among the people." (Mt 4:23)Few today doubt that Jesus was viewed by many of his contemporaries as a miracle worker. And many scholars today would agree that Jesus was a healer and an exorcist. But what does this mean? Was Jesus simply a master at relieving psychological distress, a healer of psychosomatic illness, a purveyor of paranormal therapy? What distinguished Jesus from other miracle workers of the ancient world? And what should we make then of his stilling the storm, his walking on the sea, his feeding of the five thousand?In this study of the miracles of Jesus, Graham Twelftree extensively examines the miracles within each Gospel narrative. He evaluates Jesus' own understanding of the miracles, weighs the historical reliability of the miracle stories, and considers the question of miracles and the modern mind.This book maps and explores the borderlands between the affirmations of faith and the conclusions of historical method. Are some miracles simply more open to historical verification than others? With the historical study of Jesus once again capturing the attention of the media and the public, this timely book courageously steps forward to investigate the hard questions.Jesus the Miracle Worker is a comprehensive and textbook study of the miracles of Jesus, written by a recognized expert in the historical investigation of the exorcisms of Jesus.
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Studio: IVP Academic
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 6" Height: 8.75" Weight: 1.5 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 1999
Publisher IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN 0830815961 ISBN13 9780830815968
Reviews - What do customers think about Jesus the Miracle Worker: A Historical & Theological Study?
A Masterful Work Aug 29, 2007
Graham H. Twelftree has published a masterful work, well documented and lucidly argued, and one which will undoubtedly influence any future discussions of the historicity of Jesus' miracles. There are a number of reasons for its significance. First, the author displays a vast knowledge not only of the miracles of Jesus, but also an exhaustive understanding of New Testament history and theology. A brief perusal of his published work indicates his expertise (43 published chapters and journal articles, 12 published books, 21 published reviews, and 11 works in progress). Regardless of whatever one might think of his conclusions, his level of erudition demands that this volume not be overlooked. Second, though the task of testing the historicity of the miracles of Jesus is a courageous endeavour, fraught with critics on either side, Twelftree recognizes the remedial nature of such a project, believing that a corrective is needed to reinstate the miracles of Jesus as a major component in a reconstruction of the historical Jesus. The author also optimistically claims that faith will want to be informed about the Jesus of history- a contention that, in reality, may not be so widely received as he wishes.
Third, coming from a theologically conservative perspective, one of Twelftree's greatest strengths is his high view of Scripture. Instead of jumping into the debate of the historicity of miracles, the author begins his research by allowing the text to speak for itself on its own terms. As each miracle story is examined, Twelftree addresses conflicting arguments about what the Gospel writer meant with a return to the facts of the written text. He seeks to understand the miracle stories by discovering how the Gospel writers have gone about plotting their narratives and handling the details of their material to convey their message to the first readers. Combating the literary deconstructionism that has traditionally characterized the search for the historical Jesus, Twelftree's respect for and treatment of the text is apparent and appreciated.
Fourth, Twelftree is not bound by the interpretive systems of other theologians or commentators. Since he is led by the text, the author is not tempted to embrace the exegetical frameworks that are commonly accepted, but is willing to question certain textual constructs and divert from their set structures. To illustrate, within the three groups of miracle stories in Matthew eight and nine, H. J. Held and Jeremy Moiser both attribute particular thematic systems to each set of miracles. Twelftree argues contrary to the proposed systems, suggesting that their thematic schemes are not found to dominate the respective collection of miracles. Instead, each miracle story contributes to a variety of themes and cannot be bound to a single particular idea. Throughout the text, the author continues to question assumed textual constructs and allows the text to determine the route of interpretation.
Fifth, for the theological student, Twelftree's inclusion of the major philosophical and theological contributions is of tremendous benefit. Though the monograph may be, at times, cumbersome for the layperson, discussing the central arguments of Hume, McKinnon, Bultmann, Macquarrie, Tillich and others all aid in understanding the broad and complex nature of the issues surrounding the quest for the historical Jesus.
Sixth, though Twelftree takes great pains not to allow his own pre-understanding to influence the direction of his research, in the end, he is unapologetic about his findings. His conclusions undeniably lead to the fact that Jesus is God and Messiah. Instead of shielding the reality or deflecting some of the implications, he clearly states the revolutionary significance of his research. Though careful not to offend or criticize those with alternative views, he repeatedly emphasizes that, in response to the question, "Did Jesus perform miracles?" the answer is an incontrovertible and resonant "Yes!" Those who wish to withdraw from the question of historicity for fear of discovering that the miracle stories can neither be dismissed as either mythical or as narrative creativity have little place to hide. Twelftree declares that the miracle stories cannot be shifted to the periphery of the life and ministry of the historical Jesus, but are front and centre and can no longer be overlooked.
Will wonders never cease... May 19, 2004
Graham Twelftree looks in this text at a sometimes problematic aspect of scripture - the miracles of Jesus. In our modern, scientific, rational world (or, at least this is the view of the world most seem to want to ascribe to the present day), there are distinct problems with the miraculous - did they really happen the way they are recorded? Were they intended as metaphoric stories? Do miracles still happen today? If not, why not? If so, how do we determine what is a miracle and what isn't, and why they sometimes happen and other times don't?
Twelftree's book looks at the miracles of Jesus from several standpoints, primarily concentrating on the historical and the theological. Twelftree draws attention to the high percentage of space given to miracles in the canonical gospels, and contrasts this with some modern reporting and scholarship that discounts the reality of miracles altogether, or at least relegates the miracle stories to legendary/mythological status, that might have some basis in reality to some extent, but not nearly as much as the latter reports would hold. Twelftree states that scholars from Schleiermacher to Sanders to Guthrie downplay the significance of miracles to the point of sometimes ignoring them altogether. Miracles are, after all, difficult to explain on many levels - philosophers from Hume forward have had trouble accepting the reality of miraculous happenings on different bases; scientists have major methodological concerns with miracles; and even theologians such as Bultmann, Tillich, and Macquarrie have significant objections to the idea of miracles, at least as they are commonly understood.
Yet, as Twelftree states (agreeing with Sanders) it was more likely the miracles than the speaking/preaching of the Good News that drew popular attention and crowds to Jesus. It is important to know both the historical (what happened) and the theological (what it means/why it happened) with regard to miracles. While some theologians are quick to discount historical Jesus research in both methodology and importance, Twelftree reflects Pannenberg in asserting that the historical occurrence of Jesus in the life of the Christian faith is important if there is to be any reality at the basis of faith.
In this book, Twelftree has four primary objectives - to examine how the canonical gospels portray and understand the miracles; to attempt to determine how Jesus himself understood the miracles; to examine the historicity of the miracle events in the gospels; and finally to see how these three examinations reflect back on the historical Jesus quest.
The way miracles are portrayed in the gospels is far from uniform; in fact, they can vary significantly even with particular gospels. Some of the differences Twelftree highlights include the secondary nature of miracles being behind the teachings of Jesus portrayed in Matthew, contrasted with a reversal of this pattern in John, where the primacy of miracles is so significant they become messages in-and-of themselves, apart from the direct teachings (somewhat ironic, given the extended theological passages that occur in John that appear in no other gospel).
However, there are some patterns that emerge - for example, according to Twelftree, miracles in Matthew neither create faith nor do away with doubt, but rather serve to define a relationship between the person and Jesus; in Luke and John, and to a lesser extent Mark, miracles can be ambiguous in terms of power, intention and outcome. All the gospels seem united in portraying miracles as no ordinary works of a prophet (as if miracles could somehow be 'ordinary'!). These events all point to the power of God working through Jesus - Twelftree's interpretation of the gospels is that they use miracles to create the equation of identity between Jesus and God, making miracles media of eschatological and soteriological work, too, but not without some small degree of ambiguity, which over the course of time had lead to widely varying views.
Miracles often have to do with healing - curing lepers, restoring sight, hearing and mobility, and so forth. However, some miracles operate differently - walking on water, changing water into wine, etc. While it might be uncomfortable for moderns to accept, Twelftree sees no choice but to accept that Jesus was a miracle worker of some sort, as too much of the gospel and extra-canonical witness points to this as a large portion of Jesus' ministry.
Twelftree does a useful if brief survey of the various quests for the historical Jesus in his conclusion - this is worth contrasting with some of the portions of Luke Timothy Johnson's 'The Real Jesus'. Again Twelftree highlights the absence or relatively little space and importance devoted to the consideration of miracles. Twelftree see any results of these quests as being 'wildly out of balance', given the prominence of miracles of all sorts in the gospels.
Twelftree is sometimes a bit too quick to dismiss arguments against his own line of reasoning, or to state that a limited argument against certain viewpoints is sufficient to carry the argument (which, particularly when dealing with the theological objections to miracles, I found a bit wanting). His historical methodology is basically sound, but more documentation could be helpful here, and a more thorough examination of some of the traditions surrounding miracles could be useful here (Twelftree explains in his preface that he did not aim for exhaustive comprehensiveness with regard to secondary literature and research). On the other hand, there are very useful bibliographic sections, both a general bibliography as well as topic/chapter specific lists, as well as excellent indexes on authors, subjects, scripture and ancient literature sources.
There aren't many scholarly works available on miracles, as professor Ron Allen at my seminary discovered when preparing a course on miracles. This is a welcome addition to the library of biblical and New Testament scholars, preachers, and general students of the Bible. It may also serve uses for those who study ancient history, to look at some unique aspects of this type of story found in the texts of other religions, too.
From the cover... Jul 28, 2000
"I have long admired Graham Twelftree's research in the area of the exorcism of Jesus, and it is a pleasure and enrichment to read his new work which is a masterly survey of the Gospels in light of current debates... This is a very timely and well-conceived book" COLIN BROWN (Fuller Theological Seminary)
"This new book from Graham H. Twelftree is the work of an expert full of information who see the problem of "Jesus the Miracle Worker" not only from an exegetical New Testament point of view but also in its relation to philosophical, theological and scientific problems. He has worked through a huge amount of literature, and his results are often convincing and always interesting" MARTIN HENGEL (University of Tubingen)
"Dr. Twelftree's admirably lucid, wide-ranging book will be used appreciatively by students and their teachers. This fine study of the miracle traditions in the Gospel faces squarely the awkward philosophical and historical questions" GRAHAM N. STANTON (University of Cambridge)
"... a masterful study of an important aspect of the ministry of the historical Jesus that more often than not is insufficiently treated" CRAIG A. EVANS (Trinity Western University)
"The combination of exegetical, historical and theological perspective in this single volume makes "Jesus the Miracle Worker" an especially remarkable work" JOHN P. MEIER (University of Notre Dame).