Licona, Michael R. (2010) The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic. (Buy from IVPress.com here)
At this juncture Licona introduces his methodology to approaching the subject of the resurrection of Jesus. He covers three subjects: (1) methods for weighing historical hypothess; (2) degrees of historical confidence; and (3) justification for awarding “historicity”. (p. 108)
Methods for weighing historical hypothesis:
Licona list five criteria used most often by historians:
(1) Explanatory scrope: How many facts support a given hypothesis? (p. 109)
(2) Explanatory power: What is the quality of the explanation of the data> (p. 109)
(3) Plausibility: Does it seem likely that something would happen this way? Is it a better explanation that those of others? (p. 110)
(4) Less ad hoc: Does it seem that the hypothesis must assume or speculate more than others to seem plausible? (p. 110)
(5) Illumination: Does this hypothesis help further explain other areas that are already “held with confidence” or does it detract from those? (p. 111)
Licona states that not all criteria are of equal weight (p. 113) and that some give more emphasis to one form over the other.
Degrees of historical confidence:
In this section Licona discusses how other scholars measure degrees of historical confidence. It seemed to me that this is a bit relative. Some like to use a sliding scale of percentiles (this is 75% likely) while others use words like “plausible, “possible”, “implausible”, etc.
Justification for awarding “historicity”:
Similarly, there seems to be a lot of subjectivity surrounding when one awards a hypothesis the likelihood of being historical. Licona aims to follow the five criteria mentioned above. Also, he seeks to see how much “distance” there is between two different hypothesis. For example, if someone says the historical Jesus existed, and someone else that he did not exist, most scholars would agree the evidence strongly favors that he did exists. There is a great distance between the two perspective. The one that seems more likely is the one to believe. (p. 125)
When we move to the next part we will listen to Licona’ argument addressing the relationship between the historian and the proposal that miracles may have happened.