History, Probability, and Miracles

(Κέλσος) – Matthew W. Ferguson:

As I discuss in my article “When Do Contemporary or Early Sources Matter in Ancient History,” all of our knowledge of the historical Jesus (including the reports of his resurrection) comes down through ancient texts. There is absolutely no archeological evidence at all for Jesus. None of the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection can be tested by the methods of forensic science (though, a similar event could still hypothetically be recorded by forensic science today, despite there being no evidence of such a thing). Furthermore, we have no eyewitness sources for Jesus of any kind (discussed here) and all of the textual sources that discuss his resurrection are not historical in their genre (discussed here). Instead, all we have for investigating Jesus’ resurrection is religious scripture (particularly biased Christian scriptures), which is far from our most reliable kind of evidence. Likewise, as is shown with the example of Tacitus’ phoenix above, historians cannot take paranormal reports in such ancient texts at face value, without consideration of broader scientific background knowledge.

Instead, a method is needed that can situate these claims within our broader background knowledge of the world, in order to determine the likelihood of whether such events could have really taken place within it.  …

celsus history-probability-and-miracles

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