In his debate with William Lane Craig, Bart Ehrman mentions from 1:03:54 alleged miracle workers to rival Jesus: Apollonius of Tyana, Hanina ben Dosa, Honi the Circle Drawer, and Vespasian. He apparently challenges Craig to discuss them to demonstrate that Craig is not a historian, and hence the audience should accept on authority Ehrman’s demarcation between history and philosophy and his claim that historians cannot postulate that Jesus has Risen.
At 1:12:52 Craig responds by appealing to the authority of Robert Yarbrough, John Meier and Ben Witherington for the assertion that Apollonius, Hanina and Honi don’t have as strong historical evidence. He then adds that they are not relevant to considerations of the evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection. He doesn’t respond regarding Vespasian.
His latter claim seems to me false at face-value: If there are many credible accounts of miracle workers, it calls into question the credibility of Jesus’ accounts, since one must answer how Jesus is different from them (i.e. how they are not likewise consubstantial with the Father). I also wonder how much credibility we should assign to them – or rather, remove from them – by virtue of our existing documentation originating a few centuries after their deaths.
How are these four alleged miracle workers different from Jesus?
Perhaps I have found answers to these questions in the webpages I’ve researched here: [LIST=1]
*]Apollonius of Tyana is someone about whom little is known, who appears to have been a physician and philosopher. His healings appear to be from erudite knowledge rather than divine power.
*]The accounts of Hanina ben Dosa’s miracles appear as fables rather than claims of fact like the Gospels.
*]Honi the Circle Drawer seems famous for coincidentally standing inside a circle and shouting at God when it rained one time.
*]Vespasian’s miracles aren’t credible and weren’t presented by historians as worthy of belief.
I am troubled by the thought of apparently disproving an actual historian by some simple internet searches. It suggests to me that the matter is more complicated than I know. Bart Ehrman received a PhD 30 years ago from Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating magna cum laude: Surely he would not raise objections that could be refuted by a layman with internet access!
What are your thoughts? Do you have reading recommendations? How are we to live our lives in this era where there are more contrary claims and more information than we can manage?