Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Brian Auten's Recent Interview With Michael Licona

Brian Auten has posted an interview with Michael Licona about his new book on the resurrection of Jesus. He's interviewed Licona before, but the interview he just posted is a new one.

I'm about 400 pages into the book. I'll have a lot to say about it here once I'm finished reading it.


  1. Darn it, you read faster than me:) I'm on page 258. One concern so far that I have with his discussion of the sources is that he assigns a rating of merely 'possible' to the canonical Gospels (and Acts) as sources for the fate of Jesus but then relies heavily on them to substantiate his arguments about Paul's connection to the Jerusalem church.

  2. How would you comapre it to NT Wright's "Resuurection of the Son of God"? Perhaps you could draw comparisons in a post? The reason I ask is because I am preparing messages on the resurrection and want to know what is the better of the 2 works. Thanks.

  3. JD Walters,

    I disagree with some of Licona's judgments about possibilities and probabilities. I agree with putting the most emphasis on the facts supported by the best evidence, and I agree with highlighting the facts that are the most widely accepted among scholars. But I think the lesser facts (lesser in terms of evidence and lesser in terms of scholarly acceptance) should be more prominent than they are in Licona's work (and Gary Habermas' and William Lane Craig's, for example). I see the reasoning behind putting more emphasis on the creed of 1 Corinthians 15 than gospel authorship, for example, but I wouldn't give gospel authorship as little attention as people like Licona and Craig give it.

    Regarding the example you've cited, related to the gospels, my impressions is that Licona is allowing for exceptions for particular portions of the gospels that are supported by better evidence. His general assessment of the gospel material isn't meant to apply to every part of the gospels.

    I doubt that you're a slower reader than I am. That would be hard to accomplish. I probably started earlier than you did.

  4. MSC,

    For a variety of reasons, I started Wright's book, but never finished it. I kept putting off finishing it, and now it's a somewhat dated book. I've been using it as a reference work, reading portions of it that interest me from time to time, but I never read through it. I have read all the way through some of his other material on the resurrection, though. Judging from that other material and what I have read from the book you mentioned, I'd go with Licona. For one thing, Licona's book is more recent, and it takes Wright's work into account.

  5. Thanks Jason. I think I'll check Licona out.

    "I wouldn't give gospel authorship as little attention as people like Licona and Craig give it."

    I listened to the interview and was dissapointed that he thinks Paul deserves more attention then the gospels. I don't know how anyone could read Bauckham's "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" and not take the gospels seriously as first rate historical evidence for the life of Christ. Then again, maybe Licona has not read Bauckham. If that is the case then I think his work is not up to date either.

  6. MSC,

    Licona is familiar with Bauckham's book. It's included in his bibliography.

    He distinguishes between conclusions accepted by nearly all scholars and conclusions that aren't as widely accepted. He first judges between hypotheses by the most widely accepted conclusions. He then goes to what he calls secondary conclusions, ones less widely accepted, if a judgment can't be made by means of the primary ones. However correct you think Bauckham is, his conclusions haven't gained the widespread affirmation that Licona's primary facts have.

    An appeal to the gospels has some advantages that an appeal to Paul doesn't have, but the reverse is true as well. If you make an argument from 1 Corinthians 15, for example, even the large majority of liberal scholars will agree with a conservative position on issues like authorship and dating. Licona's reasoning seems to be that you should start with the most common ground, then move out from there. And he doesn't move out much. There are tradeoffs involved in any approach, and I don't think Licona's approach has the best overall balance. But there is some merit to it, and he does well within that context.