Jesus’ Miracles and Seminar Presuppositions^3

The Jesus Seminar describes itself as taking a centrist position in the recent discussions on the historical Jesus. They stand between both the skeptics who deny the presence of historical reports in the Gospels and the fundamentalists who accept the total contents of these books.^4 Yet, it becomes obvious that this group is more closely aligned on the side of the skeptics when we review their composite work. One initial indication is the above quotation that severely restricts the supernatural,

1 Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus(New York: Macmillan Publishing Company and the Polebridge Press, 1993), Preface, pp. ix-x, xiii.

2 Ibid., p. 2.

3 For an extended discussion of the material in this section (often in edited form) see Gary R.Habermas, “Did Jesus Perform Miracles?” in Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, ed. by Michael Wilkins and J.P. Moreland (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), pp. 125–129.

4 Funk, Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar, Five Gospels, pp. 2–5.
From Gary R. Habermas, The Historical Jesus – Ancient Evidence For The Life Of Christ (in print at Amazon)

if not rejecting it outright, in favor of a modern scientific outlook. As another example, the Seminar reports that “Eighty-two percent of the words ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels were not actually spoken by him . . . .”^5

The attitude of the Jesus Seminar towards science and the supernatural is reminiscent of a famous comment made by Rudolf Bultmann decades ago: “It is impossible to use electric light and the wireless and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time to believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles.”^6 Applying his conclusion to Jesus’ resurrection, Bultmann asks later: “But what of the resurrection? Is it not a mythical event pure and simple? Obviously it is not an event of past history . . . .”^7