Biblical Miracles

Old Testament – shows acts of God that support and help the faithful and show the glory of God and punishment on those who oppose God’s people (Exodus stories – plagues and the death of the Egyptians who attempt to follow the Israelites through the parted Red Sea)

New Testament – centre on the person of Jesus. There are over 30 miracle accounts in the four Gospels which are divided into miracles of healing, exorcism and nature

They demonstrate the Kingdom of God and bear witness to Jesus as the Messiah and the new era being unveiled in and through Him

The purpose of miracles for Christians are:

  • A demonstration of God’s love, compassion, goodness and response to prayers
  • A demonstration of God’s power over nature, illness and death
  • Shows God’s continual involvement in the world
  • Signs that Jesus is from God

Understanding miracles

Advances in science have called into question the validity of ‘miraculous’ events in the Bible

Some Christians contend that what is most important is the message contained within the stories

Form critics (a theological movement that analysed Biblical texts to discover what form they were originally used in) such as Gunkel (1862-1932) argued that the key to understanding miracle accounts was to understand the period where the stories were passed down by word of mouth before being written down

The Gospels tell the stories of the miracles in the ‘form’ that they were told in the early Church

Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) attempted to demythologise (remove elements of Biblical accounts that were purely 1st century myth to discover the real message of Jesus) the New Testament accounts. By removing supernatural elements he argued that it is possible to get closer to the real message of Jesus rather than the interpretations by the early Church.

Jesus’ resurrection is a key event in Christian history and confirms Jesus as the Son of God and his ability to give his followers eternal life.

For most Christians it is essential to believe that this was a real, physical event even if they doubt other miracles.

For others i.e. Rev. Dr David Jenkins (former Bishop of Durham) the resurrection story does not have to be taken literally – “I personally do not know whether the grave was empty or not. The evidence of the texts, the nature of the tradition and the general facts about the way people all over the world rapidly believe appropriate stories to support the religious beliefs leave me wholly uncertain about the Empty Tomb as literal historical fact

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