- LAST REVIEWED: 24 February 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0080
- LAST REVIEWED: 24 February 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0080
A miracle story is a narrative involving a report of supposed special divine action. This article notes key literature that interprets the miracle stories associated with Jesus of Nazareth through historical, socioreligious, and literary contextualization. The importance of contextualization cannot be overemphasized. Understanding the historical era, the cultural climate, the political realities, the Jewish and Hellenistic religious background of Jesus and his early followers, the social signals in the literature that were understood by that culture, and the literary context provided by the larger works in which the stories appear, contribute to interpreting the intentions of those responsible for the stories. This article is intended to provide an authoritative set of texts that addresses these various aspects of interpreting the miracle stories of Jesus as they stand in the New Testament canon, that is, in the gospel sources, the gospels themselves, the Acts of the Apostles, and the letters of Paul.
Miracle provides a review of miracles across the world and religious orientations. Woodward 2000 places the miracle stories associated with Jesus in the context of a discussion of the meaning of miracles in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. The contextualization in Twelftree 2011 includes ancient and traditional religions. Keener 2011 makes a detailed case for the credibility of the New Testament miracle stories. Bee-Schroedter 1998 offers various approaches to miracle stories, and Eve 2002 follows miracle stories through Jewish history into early Judaism. Brown 1984 provides a history of the scientific study of the problem of miracles. Keller and Keller 1969 presents scholarly arguments that have ensued over whether miracles are even possible. Moule 1965 addresses biblical miracles, the Greco-Roman background, and miracle stories in the early Church. Remus 1982 points out that even the language used for miracle can have different meanings depending on the user’s background. Suhl 1980 focuses on the manner in which each gospel uses miracle stories for a particular portrait of Jesus. Weder 1992 looks to various methods for interpretation, while Wenham and Blomberg 1986 opens up the scope to discuss a variety of topics concerning miracle stories.
Bee-Schroedter, Heike. Neutestamentliche Wundergeschichten im Spiegel vergangener und gegenwärtiger Rezeptionen. Historisch-exegetische und empirisch-entwicklungspsychologische Studien. Stuttgart biblische Beiträge 39. Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1998.
Aiming to be helpful for educators and exegetes, the author first presents the various approaches that have been adopted to study miracles (historicity studies, redactional analysis, historical-critical examinations) and then turns to the social scientific evidence of how children perceive the miracle stories.
Brown, Colin. Miracles and the Critical Mind. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984.
After a brief section on the prescientific age, the focus of attention is on the rise of skepticism in the 17th century and the legacy of the 19th century. The latter two parts of the book set out the ongoing debate to the middle of the 20th century and, briefly, the interpretation of the miracle and their apologetic value.
Eve, Eric. The Jewish Context of Jesus’ Miracles. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement 231. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 2002.
The Jewish context is placed in the foreground as the focus of investigation enabling Jesus’ miracles to be seen in their Jewish context. Thus, Eve avoids the danger of a distorted picture that arises from considering only those snippets of Jewish background that most closely resemble or contrast with Jesus’ miracle working. Eve concludes that the miracles of Jesus resemble those of the great miracle-working prophets Elijah and Elisha.
Keener, Craig S. Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. 2 vols. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.
Included in this extensive case for the credibility of the stories that center on ancient and modern testimony, both in the majority world and in the recent West, is an attention to the possibility of miracles from a philosophical perspective.
Keller, Ernst, and Marie-Luise Keller. Miracles in Dispute: A Continuing Debate. Translated by Margaret Kohl. London: SCM, 1969.
A historical overview of the scholarly argument about whether a miracle is possible.
“Miracle.” In Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2011.
This article places miracle stories against the backdrop of the world at large and different religions. It also refers to articles in other encyclopedias on various perspectives of miracles.
Moule, C. F. D., ed. Miracles: Cambridge Studies in Their Philosophy and History. London: Mowbray, 1965.
This anthology of essays addresses the subject of miracle stories in the Old and New Testaments, in non-Jewish and Jewish sources from the Greco-Roman period, and in sources of the early Church.
Remus, Harold. “Does Terminology Distinguish Early Christian from Pagan Miracles?” Journal of Biblical Literature 101.4 (1982): 531–551.
It is impossible to identify terminology to distinguish Christ’s miracles from those of pagan heroes. The positive or negative meaning of semeia (sign) or teras (wonder) depends on the context and custom of the narrators, and their disposition toward the hero.
Suhl, Alfred, ed. Der Wunderbegriff im Neuen Testament. Wege der Forschung 295. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1980.
This collection of essays by an array of prestigious scholars offers a full discussion of the miracle stories, beginning with the biblical concept of miracle followed by important articles on the gospel miracles and their Christologies.
Twelftree, Graham H., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Miracles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
The attention to the miracle stories of Jesus is embedded in discussions of the definition and meaning of miracle, miracles in Antiquity and the major religions, and the history of debates about miracles, including among philosophers.
Weder, Hans. “Wunder Jesu und Wundergeschichten.” In Einblicke ins Evangeliums. Exegetische Beiträge zur neutestamentlichen Hermeneutik. Gessammelte Aufsätze aus den Jahren 1980–1991. By Hans Weder, 61–93. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992.
In this erudite chapter of his larger work, Weder presents the major methods that are presently employed to interpret the miracle stories, with a final question about their purpose and efficacy.
Wenham, David, and Craig Blomberg, eds. The Miracles of Jesus. Gospel Perspectives 6. Sheffield, UK: JSOT, 1986.
Twelve articles address a variety of historical and philosophical issues concerning the miracles of Jesus, such as the question of their distinction from magic, the figure of Jesus as a Hellenistic divine man, the connection of miracles to parables, miracles as apocalyptic. The volume concludes with a concise review and summary by Blomberg.
Woodward, Kenneth L. The Book of Miracles: The Meaning of the Miracle Stories in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.
Although a popular book, it is well informed, well written, and helpful in contextualizing the miracle stories associated with Jesus not only in their 1st-century context but also in the context of modern religious pluralism. Through the liberal quotation of stories from the Gospels, the Talmud, early Christian writings, Sufi mystics, Muslim ascetics, and Hindu and Buddhist saints, the author is able to draw attention to the similarities and differences in the traditions.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- 2 Baruch
- 1 Clement
- Acts of the Apostles
- Adam and Eve
- Aelia Capitolina
- Afterlife and Immortality
- Alexander the Great
- Altered States of Consciousness in the Bible
- Ancient Christianity, Churches in
- Ancient Israel, Schools in
- Ancient Medicine
- Ancient Mesopotamia, Schools in
- Anti-Semitism and the New Testament
- Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
- Apocryphal Acts
- Apostolic Fathers
- Archaeology and Material Culture of Moab and the Moabites
- Archaeology and Material Culture of Phoenicia and the Phoe...
- Art, Early Christian
- Astrology and Astronomy
- Barnabas, The Epistle of
- Bible, Election in the
- Biblical Criticism
- Biblical Studies, Cognitive Science Approaches in
- Caesarea Maritima
- Canon, Biblical
- Children in the Hebrew Bible
- Christian Apocrypha
- Chronicles, 1 and 2
- Cities of Refuge
- Clement, 2
- Clement of Alexandria
- Corinthians, 2
- Cosmology, Near East
- Covenant, Ark of the
- Daniel, Additions to
- Death and Burial
- Deuteronomistic History
- Domestic Architecture, Ancient Israel
- Early Christianity
- Economics and Biblical Studies
- Education in the Hebrew Bible
- Epistles, Catholic
- Epistolography (Ancient Letters)
- Esther and Additions to Esther
- Evil Eye
- Exodus, Book of
- Feminist Scholarship on the Old Testament
- Flora and Fauna of the Hebrew Bible
- Food and Food Production
- Friendship, Kinship and Enmity
- Funerary Rites and Practices, Greco-Roman
- Genesis, Book of
- God, Ancient Israel
- God, Greco-Roman
- God, Son of
- Gospels, Apocryphal
- Great, Herod the
- Greco-Roman World, Associations in the
- Greek Language
- Hebrew Bible, Biblical Law in the
- Hebrew Language
- Hermas, Shepherd of
- Historiography, Greco-Roman
- Holy Spirit
- Honor and Shame
- Hosea, Book of
- Idol/Idolatry (HB/OT)
- Imperial Cult and Early Christianity
- Interpretation and Hermeneutics
- Israel, History of
- Jesus of Nazareth
- Jewish Christianity
- Jewish Festivals
- John, Gospel of
- John the Baptist
- Jubilees, Book of
- Judaism, Hellenistic
- Judaism, Rabbinic
- Judaism, Second Temple
- Judas, Gospel of
- Jude, Epistle of
- Judges, Book of
- Judith, Book of
- Kings, 1 and 2
- Letters, Johannine
- Letters, Pauline
- Levitical Cities
- Literacy, New Testament
- Literature, Apocalyptic
- Lord’s Prayer
- Luke, Gospel of
- Maccabean Revolt
- Maccabees, 1–4
- Man, Son of
- Manasseh, King of Judah
- Manasseh, Tribe/Territory
- Mark, Gospel of
- Matthew, Gospel of
- Medieval Biblical Interpretation (Jewish)
- Midrash and Aggadah
- Miracle Stories
- Modern Bible Translations
- Myth in the Hebrew Bible
- Nahum, Book of
- New Testament and Early Christianity, Women, Gender, and S...
- New Testament, Feminist Scholarship on the
- New Testament, Men and Masculinity in the
- New Testament, Rhetoric of the
- New Testament, Social Sciences and the
- New Testament Studies, Emerging Approaches in
- New Testament, Textual Criticism of the
- New Testament Views of Torah
- Numbers, Book of
- Nuzi (Nuzi Tablets)
- Old Testament, Biblical Theology in the
- Old Testament, Social Sciences and the
- Orality and Literacy
- Passion Narratives
- Paul's Opponents
- "Persian" Period, The
- Philo of Alexandria
- Poetry, Hebrew
- Priestly/Holiness Codes
- Pseudepigraphy, Early Christian
- Qumran/Dead Sea Scrolls
- Revelation (Apocalypse)
- Samuel, 1 and 2
- Sects, Jewish
- Sermon on the Mount
- Sin (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament)
- Solomon, Wisdom of
- Song of Songs
- Succession Narrative
- Synoptic Problem
- Tales, Court
- Temples and Sanctuaries
- Temples, Near Eastern
- Ten Commandments
- the Dead, Egyptian Book of
- the Hebrew Bible, Ancient Egypt and
- Thomas, Gospel of
- Twelve Prophets, Book of the
- Virtues and Vices: New Testament Ethical Exhortation in I...
- War, New Testament
- Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testa...
- Worship in the New Testament and Earliest Christianity
- Worship, Old Testament