Thursday, April 30, 2009

Miracles - A Test Case

In the last post, we looked at DeConick's Ground Rules for making decisions about the historical Jesus. Ground Rule #2 related to the use of miracle stories in historical studies.

Here is a test case for how we approach miracles. The example I use comes from the Mormon tradition and centers on their belief that the angel Moroni appeared to the young Joseph Smith and revealed to him the location of a set of golden plates that contained the fullness of the gospel Jesus Christ. See the following description from the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and pay particular attention to Joseph Smith's own account of the miracle.

How would you evaluate the historicity of this account? What criteria would you use in your evaluation? How would your analysis differ from how you would evaluate the various resurrection narratives in the New Testament? Or other Christian miracle stories such as Jesus walking on water or his raising the dead?

No comments: