Law's New F&P Article on Evidence, Miracles, and the Existence of Jesus

Stephen Law has kindly posted his recent paper, "Evidence, Miracles, and the Existence of Jesus", Faith & Philosophy 28:2 (April 2011), pp. 129-151. Here's the abstract:

The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence.

I should say that I myself am quite persuaded that Jesus is a historical figure.


Anonymous said...

If you don't mind me asking, why are you persuaded that there is a historical Jesus? I would be interested to hear your view.

exapologist said...

Hi Brian,

I plan to address this at some length down the road, but for now (if you don't mind) I'll give the short answer: deference to the consensus view among the relevant experts.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, I'll look forward to reading your thoughts.