Discussion surrounding the resurrection of Jesus has traditionally hosted a long list of scholarly voices. Still, few names are more present to the contemporary conversation than Michael R. Licona (PhD, University of Pertoria). Licona is Associate Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University. He is the author of Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection (Baker, 2006) and coauthor with Gary Habermas of the award-winning book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel, 2004). Licona is also the author and/or contributor to a number of academic articles relating to various topics surrounding Jesus and the resurrection. Still, Licona’s most lasting contribution to the discussion of the resurrection to date is his massive doctoral dissertation turned monograph case study, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (IVP Academic, 2010).
Licona begins The Resurrection of Jesus with an excellent survey of the various theories and methods that relate to the task of a historiographical approach. This is an important starting point for the reader as it effectively builds the framework for the next 600+ pages. Subsequently, Licona investigates the objections to historical considerations of miracle-claims purported by individuals such as David Hume, Bart D. Ehrman, John P. Meier, and many more. Licona displays how each objection fails and why the hesitancy for such historical approach to the investigation of miracle-claims is unwarranted. Again, this further builds the framework of Licona’s conclusion and the reader is certain to appreciate the care take in his evaluation. Following the introductory matters of the first few sections, Licona systematically evaluates and analyzes the historical sources and evidence before weighing the various critical approaches to such. This is the crux of Licona’s effort and he presents his position in a fair and articulate fashion.
The Resurrection of Jesus is the most comprehensive historical investigation on the event of the resurrection that I have encountered to date. Licona leaves no corner of the conversation untouched, and the high points of the book are many. However, for the sake of space, I will name two. First, I think that many readers will find the evaluation of the historical sources in chapter three to be extremely helpful and carefully examined. Licona discusses both canonical and noncanonical sources, as well as Christian and non-Christian writings from the initial centuries of the Christian church. Each source is individually evaluated in regards to its importance in the historicity of the resurrection, and Licona does an excellent job approaching the sources objectively. Second, after evaluating the sources and beyond, Licona provides outstanding interaction with the various resurrection theories. This section is helpful in allowing the reader to digest and put the resurrected puzzle pieces together in the shape of Licona’s historiographical approach—although Licona is good about not telling you what to believe, but rather how to think.
The Resurrection of Jesus is a phenomenal work that deserves a permanent space on the bookshelf of anyone interested in wrestling with the implications of the resurrection for the Christian worldview. Licona is trustworthy in his examination of the evidence, and the fact that this is a polished presentation of his doctoral dissertation written at a secular university under skeptical eyes makes it even more intriguing. To be fair, this book isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s big, really big! It’s detailed, really detailed! But, if you are looking for a comprehensive examination into the historicity of the most important event in the history of mankind, then The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach by Michael R. Licona will be worth twice its weight in gold.
I received a review copy of these books in exchange for and honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.