Does The Minimal Facts Approach Dishonor God’s Word?

By Evan Minton

The Minimal Facts Approach is an approach to establishing the truth of Jesus’ resurrection using two criteria; (1) they must be facts that have a lot of evidence in their favor, and (2) these facts must be universally or nearly universally agreed upon by scholars and historians who study the subject, even the skeptical ones. Then, once the facts are established as facts, we then examine which explanation best explains them, and it turns out that only the He-Is-Risen hypothesis best explains all of them. These facts are (1) Jesus’ death by crucifixion, (2) Jesus’ empty tomb, (3) Jesus’ post-mortem appearances to His disciples, (4) Jesus’ post-mortem appearance to Paul, and (5) Jesus’ post-mortem appearance to James.

Minimal Facts Divine

We establish these 5 facts by looking at secular historical documents as well as applying the standard historical “criteria of authenticity” to The New Testament documents. In doing so, we can establish the truth of Jesus’ resurrection in an evidential and non-question-begging way. I make the case for the resurrection in “The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus’ Resurrection PART 1” and “The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus’ Resurrection PART 2”, but if you think those are too lengthy, I have an abridged version of that first article titled “A Quick Case For Jesus’ Resurrection”. So, check those out if you want to go into the arguments and evidence. I also argue for the resurrection in chapter 8 of my book “Inference To The One True God”. 

One objection to this method of establishing Christianity’s central doctrine that I have encountered a few times is this: it dishonors God’s holy inspired word. Some Christians don’t like the minimal facts approach because it treats The New Testament documents as if they were ordinary documents written by ordinary people rather than inspired scripture. We don’t argue that Jesus’ tomb was empty “because The Bible says so” but rather, for example, “The tomb was likely empty because all 4 gospels mention women as the chief witnesses. They wouldn’t have done this if they were making it up because it was commonly thought that women were untrustworthy witnesses, to such an extent that they weren’t even permitted to serve as witnesses in a Jewish court of law. If they were making up this narrative, they would have had males the first one on the scene. Therefore, by the principle of embarrassment, we can conclude the tomb was empty.” As you can see, these two approaches are very different. The former takes the words of the New Testament at face value and concludes they’re true because The New Testament was inspired by God, whereas the latter approach has to apply some historical method to determine whether or not it’s true. This makes some Christians uncomfortable because it seems to suggest that God’s Word cannot be trusted to give us truthful information. It seems to treat the holy scriptures as just common literature which may or may not be true, or which may be true in some places but false in others.

The conclusion reached is that we, therefore, shouldn’t try to prove the resurrection (fideism), or if we do try to prove it, to prove it some other way that doesn’t demean The Bible (presuppositionalism). How might evidentialist Christian Apologists respond to this objection? Do we really demean God’s holy word when we argue for Jesus’ resurrection this way?

The Minimal Facts Approach Meets The Unbelievers Where They Are 

It is very important that we reach unbelievers in a way that will be most effective to them. The Minimal Facts Approach reaches unbelievers where they are epistemologically. The non-Christian does not accept The Bible as God’s holy and inspired word and because of this, he, therefore, does not consider it authoritative, infallible, or inerrant. Therefore, it’s useless to just quote a passage from it and expect him to say “Well if it’s in The Bible, it must be true!” He doesn’t accept The Bible as authoritative, so he isn’t going be persuaded by this.

To help you get in their shoes: imagine if a Muslim tried to convince you of Islam by citing from the Quran. You wouldn’t be persuaded, would you? Why? Obviously, because you don’t think the Quran is inspired! You think it’s a fabrication by Muhammad. Well, atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and other non-Christians see The Bible the same way. If a Muslim were to convince me of Islam, he would have to take an approach to proving his religion that didn’t presuppose the inspiration of his holy book.

The Minimal Facts Approach does this. When we argue for the 5 minimal facts undergirding the inference to the resurrection, we don’t quote from The New Testament as inspired scripture. We do use The New Testament, but not as scripture. We use it as we would any other ancient document that claims to tell of historical events. We proceed to use the “criteria of authenticity” that historians use on many non-biblical documents, and we’ll see what we can affirm as true by that method. Principles such as multiple attestation, the principle of embarrassment, the principle of early attestation, the principle of dissimilarity, and so on. These are principles that historians use on secular documents all the time, in order to discern whether or not what they record is true.

Many non-Christians have come to faith through this approach, such as Lee Strobel, J. Warner Wallace, and Frank Morrison, just to name a few. These men went on to share this evidence they discovered with unbelievers they witnessed to.

We believe all of The Bible is inspired, but we pretend the gospels and epistles aren’t for the sake of the argument. The Christian Apologist is basically saying “Even if I conceded these weren’t inspired, I can still establish that the resurrection of Jesus is true.” All we are doing is simply meeting the unbeliever where he is.

This approach of meeting unbelievers where they are epistemologically is biblical. I noticed that Paul dealt with the unbelieving Jews in Berea and the unbelieving Pagans in Athens quite differently in Acts 17. With the Jews, he used scripture to reason with them, using arguments from fulfilled prophecy to prove to them that Jesus really is the messiah. With the Pagans, he didn’t use The Old Testament prophecies as evidence at all. Instead, he used philosophical arguments, and he appealed to their own Greek poets and pagan authors to establish his points. Click here to read the passage. 

In 1 Cortinthians 9:20-23, Paul wrote: “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

The Apostle Paul saw the importance of changing his tactics depending on who he was witnessing to. We should too. When I’m witnessing to atheists, agnostics, or other people who don’t believe The Bible is inspired, I employ arguments that don’t hinge on that presupposition. However, if I’m witnessing to a heretic who does believe scripture is inspired but has interpreted some passages in such ways as to come up with heretical doctrines (e.g Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons), then I will appeal to scripture to make my points. In the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I’ll even refute their doctrines using the New World Translation (a twisted translation, but the only one they accept). I change my approach based on who I’m talking to. The Message doesn’t change, but the method of conveying the message does.

Conclusion 

The Bible is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). It brings no shame to a sword just because you swing it differently in different battles. Sometimes you need to slash vertically, sometimes you need to slash horizontally, other times you need to stab. You need to wield a sword in the most effective way you can to deal with the particular fighting style of your enemy. This holds true for literal swords, one would think it would hold true of “The Sword Of The Spirit” (i.e The Bible) as well. Depending on our audience, we will either use The Bible as inspired scripture or as a collection of ancient writings which we will apply the historical method to.

When we use The Minimal Facts Approach, we are not at all suggesting that we distrust God’s word. Rather we are acknowledging that our audience distrusts God’s word, and we respect that, and we witness to them with that fact in mind.

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2r3yJTa


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27 replies
  1. Vinny says:

    I think that your definition of “a lot of evidence” is exceedingly generous. The appearance to James is only supported by a single verse.

    Reply
    • Evan Minton says:

      According to Reginald H Fuller (an atheist New Testament scholar), even if there weren’t a single mention of an appearance to James, we would have to make that inference simply from the fact that he was a skeptic during his unbelieving days, but became a believer almost immediately after his death. I agree with him. And defend the two pillars undergirding this inference in the blog posts I mentioned and linked to near the start of this one.

      Reply
      • KR says:

        Reginald H Fuller was an Anglican priest. Is there any extra-biblical evidence of James’ unbelief and subsequent conversion (or even his existence)? If not, Mr Fuller’s seems somewhat circular.

        Reply
        • Evan Minton says:

          I see. I think I might have been confusing him with a different scholar who actually was an atheist. (o_o) My mistake.

          Anyway, why does it need to be extra-biblical evidence to be non-circular? Why can’t the criterion of authenticity (embarrassment, multiple attestations, dissimilarity), be enough? For example, how is it circular to conclude James was a skeptic because it was (A) multiply attested by John and Mark (two independent sources), and (B) an embarrassing fact they wouldn’t have mentioned were it not true?

          Reply
          • KR says:

            Evan Minton wrote: “Anyway, why does it need to be extra-biblical evidence to be non-circular?”

            Because without extra-biblical evidence, you’re using the bible to corroborate itself. That’s essentially the same as saying the bible is true because it says so, which is hardly convincing.

          • Evan Minton says:

            Yes, we’re using biblical documents, but we’re not quoting from them as inspired scripture. As stated in the OP, in my case for the resurrection, I treat the New Testament documents just like I would any document that purports to tell us historical events; by examining what they say and seeing if any of the historical “criteria of authenticity” can be applied to confirm that something actually happened. Historians use these criteria or principles all the time when examining secular documents, so why can’t they be used when examining biblical ones? Why hold The New Testament to a different historical standard than you would the writings of Josephus or an ancient biography of Alexander the Great?

            By the way, even NON-Christian historians (e.g Gerd Ludemann, Bart Ehrman) treat The New Testament this way, and they come to the some of the same conclusions Christians scholars do.

            In fact, that’s precisely what this article was all about! I was answering objections from Christians who say that applying the historical method to the New Testament is impious. If I were arguing ” the bible is true because it says so, ” as you charge me with, the article we’re commenting on wouldn’t even exist!

          • Evan Minton says:

            To make the argument, for example, that the tomb was empty because the gospels mention women, and that the gospels would have included men if they were just making up the narrative, and because they didn’t, the most reasonable conclusion is that the empty tomb narrative is historical fact, is not the same as “The Bible says the tomb was empty. Therefore, the tomb was empty.” The former applies the principle of embarrassment to the gospels, the latter just simply takes the gospel at their word. I fail to see how the former approach could at all be accused of being question begging. The former approach doesn’t presuppose the New Testmant documents are telling the truth.

          • KR says:

            “Why hold The New Testament to a different historical standard than you would the writings of Josephus or an ancient biography of Alexander the Great?”

            I’m not – I would be skeptical of any historical document that isn’t corroborated by any external evidence. Claims need substantiation or they will simply remain claims. The “Minimal Facts” approach seems to agree with me, since its first requirement is that these (alleged) facts must have a lot of evidence in their favor. I’m simply asking for the supporting evidence in this case. This evidence obviously cannot come from the document that makes the original claim, since this would be self-referential, i.e. circular.

          • Evan Minton says:

            Some of the minimal facts are established through the principle of multiple attestation (i.e more than one source records it). The crucifixion of Jesus is multiply attested by extra-biblical documents in addition to the biblical ones. However, it is a mistake to think this is the only or even the most important of the historical criteria. Historians take other factors into consideration too, such as “Is the incident embarrassing or awkward to the one recording it?” and “Is this source really early after the event the source describes?” and “Do sources hostile to this source corroborate it?” and so on.

            So, even if an event is only mentioned in a single document, it may meet the principle of embarrassment, or the principle of early testimony, or both. And therefore, the historian would still be in his rational rights to conclude that it happened on the basis of the two latter principles.

            By the way, are you presupposing that the New Testament is a single document? If so, that would be a mistake. The New Testament is actually a set of 27 books are letter comprised into a single document. Just want to make sure you’re not falling into the common error of thinking of the NT as a single book.

            I highly recommend taking a look at my article “A Quick Case For Jesus’ Resurrection” so you can see HOW I’m arguing for the 5 facts undergirding the inference to the resurrection. If you’re really paying attention to what I say, you’ll be able to tell the difference between my approach and “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” The link is below.

            http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2017/04/a-quick-case-for-jesus-resurrection.html

          • KR says:

            “So, even if an event is only mentioned in a single document, it may meet the principle of embarrassment, or the principle of early testimony, or both.”

            Neither of these seem particularly persuasive to me, especially if the claim is of a miraculous nature.

            “By the way, are you presupposing that the New Testament is a single document? If so, that would be a mistake.”

            The NT was obviously written by different authors but their writings were collected, edited and presented as one collection. There is also clear evidence that the later authors were influenced by the earlier ones so I think it would be difficult to maintain that they are completely idependent accounts.

          • Evan Minton says:

            The inference to the resurrection is an inference to a miraculous event, that’s true. But you’re not making any supernatural claims by arguing “The tomb of Jesus was empty because the gospels mention women as witnesses, and they wouldn’t have done this if they were making it up because back then women weren’t considered reliable witnesses, therefore on the principle of embarrassment, I conclude Jesus’ tomb was empty”. That’s not an argument towards anything supernatural. THAT the tomb was empty and WHY the tomb was empty are two different questions.

            The conclusion “Jesus is risen” is only reached AFTER doing a historical analysis of the evidence. In the case for the resurrection, there are two steps.

            1: What Are The Facts To Be Explained?
            2: What Is The Best Explanation Of The Facts?

            It is only after the minimal facts are determined to BE facts that an inference to the resurrection is made. It is only after we conclude (1) Jesus died by crucifixion, (2) that His tomb was found empty the following Sunday, (3) the disciples believed they saw Jesus alive shortly after his death, (4) that a persecutor named Saul converted to Christianity because he believed the risen Jesus appeared to him, and (5) James’ conversion from skepticism on account of what he believed to be a postmortem appearance of Jesus, that I then make an inference to the resurrection.

            These are the 5 minimal facts. They are arrived at through applying the principles of historical authenticity to the New Testament text in addition to some extra biblical documents (i.e the principle of mulitple attestation, embarrassment, dissimilarity, enemy attestation, historical fit, etc. etc.). It only after all that is done that one can then ask “What is the best explanation of these 5 facts?” I think “He is risen” is the best explanation. Not only does it adequately explain every one of the 5 facts in need of an explanation, but over the past 2,000 years, no one has been able to give a viable alternative theory than a miraculous resurrection. Though the non-Christian historians certainly keep trying.

            You said “There is also clear evidence that the later authors were influenced by the earlier ones so I think it would be difficult to maintain that they are completely idependent accounts.” — This is certainly true of some of them, but not all of them. If you’ll just read my treatment of this topic in the article I linked to in my previous comment, you’ll see that I treat Matthew, Mark, and Luke as a single source because there’s good evidence they borrowed from one another. However, there’s no evidence at all that John borrowed from any of the Synoptics. That’s why I treat John’s gospel as an independent source from the other 3. And certainly, Paul’s letters are independent of ANY of the 4 gospels.

          • KR says:

            It’s extremely unlikely that we will ever agree on this. I see the fantastical claims being made and how they’re being used as justification for entire worldviews on which people are basing decisions that have life and death consequences (for themselves and others) and I am, frankly, shocked by the chasm between the assuredness of the believers and the quality of the evidence it rests on. In fact, I don’t think the evidence that Jesus even existed is enough of a slam dunk to justify this level of certitude.

            I have to go so I’ll leave the last word to you.

          • Evan Minton says:

            Well, I happen to find the evidence incredibly strong. I think the reason you don’t is because you had a gross misunderstanding of the reasoning which leads historians (both Christian and non) to conclude the 5 facts such as Jesus’ empty tomb and various postmortem appearances; thinking we were “using The Bible to prove The Bible”, and also not understanding that multiple attestation isn’t the only or even the most important factor historians use when reaching conclusions.

            I think if you understood the reasoning process from start to finish, you might find the evidence convincing enough to become a Christian. Maybe you would, maybe you wouldn’t. But, in the case of the latter possibility, at least you’d be able to come up with rebuttals that don’t attack straw men. I do hope you’ll investigate this issue further. I go into an in-depth treatment of the case for the resurrection in my book “Inference To The One True God”, but I also talk about it in 3 blog posts on my site; Cerebral Faith. Those blog posts would be “The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus’ Resurrection PART 1” and “The Minimal Facts Case For Jesus’ Resurrection PART 2”, but if you think those are too lengthy, you can just read the abridged version I wrote titled “A Quick Case For Jesus’ Resurrection”. All of these articles were mentioned and linked to near the start of the article you and I are commenting on.

            I truly hope you’ll look into them, at least the “A Quick Case For…” one. As C.S Lewis once said: “Christianity, if false, is of no importance. But if true, it is of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

      • Vinny says:

        We actually have no evidence that James became a became a believer after Jesus’s death. The earliest available traditions make him a believer during Jesus’s life.

        Reply
  2. Bryan says:

    “When I’m witnessing to atheists, agnostics, or other people who don’t believe The Bible is inspired, I employ arguments that don’t hinge on that presupposition.”

    I’d love for you to “witness” to Matt Dillahunty. You can go on the Atheist Experience on Youtube Sunday afternoons at 4:30 cst for the live call in show. 1-512-686-0279 is the number and theists go to the front of the line.

    Reply
  3. TGM says:

    “Minimal facts”. That sounds like maximal cherry-picking. I would prefer an explanation that explains ALL of the facts, not just the ones apologists find most convenient. Here’s a fact that somehow seems to go unmentioned in the Minimal Facts analysis: we have no understanding of a mechanism by which someone could be returned from the dead. This fact (1) has a lot of evidence in its favor and (2) would be near universally agreed upon by new testament scholars. It clearly meets the Minimal Fact criteria, yet somehow gets overlooked. Here’s another fact: people have a propensity to attribute misunderstood phenomena to the wrong source. This also meets (1) and (2). But that’s also not included. Perhaps this process should be renamed “The Minimal Facts That Support What We Already Believe To Be True Approach.”

    Reply
    • Vinny says:

      There is certainly some cherry-picking going on, but let’s not forget the boot-strapping.

      What needs to be explained is the evidence, which in this case consists of ancient writings of largely unknown authorship filled with fantastic stories based on undetermined sources which are removed an unknown number of times in an oral tradition from the stories’ originators who may or may not have had any personal knowledge of the events in question. All of the so-called minimal facts are themselves explanations of the evidence, i.e., the explanation for the story about the tomb being empty is that the tomb was actually empty.

      Regardless of whether one’s world view allows for the possibility of supernatural events, a plausible explanation for any such story is human shortcomings such as ignorance, superstition, wishful thinking, gullibility, and prevarication.

      Reply
      • Ed Vaessen says:

        It is a ridiculous God that tries to convince people all over the world by letting something happen in a remote corner of the world in a remote time and then have it reported by those who cannot make their case at all.
        I never heard any explanation from Christians (or Muslims) why God does not simply make things clear to all people in a way that cannot be doubted. Immediately they start to talk about God acting in strange ways or invent other excuses, the worst being that those who do not believe the crap are morally flawed.

        Reply
        • Ed Vaessen says:

          No answers fro so called Christians here.
          Silence or evasion. That is their reaction to even the simplest questions.

          Reply
    • Evan Minton says:

      All a minimal facts approach says is that, insofar as the second criteria is concerned, if a fact isn’t universally or at least comes close to being universally accepted among scholars, we won’t use it to make a case for the resurrection. As Gary Habermas says “We’ll only use data that even the skeptical scholars allow us”. The thing is; a powerful case for the resurrection can be given even when that much leeway is given. A case is made only from what scholarly consensus allows.

      “Here’s another fact: people have a propensity to attribute misunderstood phenomena to the wrong source.” — This is what Christian and non-Christian scholars debate. Most agree that Jesus’ tomb was empty, and that His disciples, Paul, and James believed they saw him alive shortly after His crucifixion. What is debated is how these facts are best explained. Resurrection? Or something else? I think the former is the case because it adequately explains ALL 5 the facts in need of explanation, while that in the “something else” category explains 1, maybe 2 of the minimal facts AT BEST.

      To see the arguments in favor of the 5 facts under girding the inference to the resurrection, see my article “A Quick Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus” (http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2017/04/a-quick-case-for-jesus-resurrection.html).

      Reply
      • Ed Vaessen says:

        “Here’s another fact: people have a propensity to attribute misunderstood phenomena to the wrong source.” — This is what Christian and non-Christian scholars debate. Most agree that Jesus’ tomb was empty, and that His disciples, Paul, and James believed they saw him alive shortly after His crucifixion. What is debated is how these facts are best explained. Resurrection? Or something else? I think the former is the case because it adequately explains ALL 5 the facts in need of explanation, while that in the “something else” category explains 1, maybe 2 of the minimal facts AT BEST.”

        Oh please shut up…
        A child reasons more intelligently.

        Reply
      • Vinny says:

        1: What Are The Facts To Be Explained?
        2: What Is The Best Explanation Of The Facts?

        This methodology is invalid. The correct question is “What is the best explanation of the evidence?” The point of the minimal facts approach is to ignore the poor quality of the sources by cherry-picking a handful of “facts” which are established by an appeal to consensus, while ignoring those facts which are inconvenient to the apologetic approach.

        As one of your commenters pointed out, an extremely well established fact, supported by both scholarly consensus and overwhelming evidence, is that dead people stay dead. Nonetheless, this fact is completely ignored in favor of the conversion of James, a “fact” for which the evidence could hardly be any weaker.

        Reply
        • Evan Minton says:

          Vinny, your comment demonstrates an extreme ignorance of the minimal facts approach. Neither I nor any other Christian apologist who takes this approach says that the minimal facts are true because there’s a consensus reached on them. They’re true because the evidence supports them. It’s just that we don’t use points in our case which don’t have a large consensus, even though we ourselves might think it’s true and think there’s good evidence in its favor. I highly suggest you (and KR) actually take the time to read some material on this so you can stop attacking straw men.

          “an extremely well-established fact, supported by both scholarly consensus and overwhelming evidence, is that dead people stay dead.” — Really? Gosh golly! I didn’t know that! I thought corpses were springing up all the time! This is quite an eye opener! lol

          Yes, generally, people do stay dead. If they didn’t, Jesus’ resurrection wouldn’t stand out to us. Miracles, in general, have to be extremely rare in order to get our attention. If they were happening all the time, they’d be easy to shrug off. Imagine if dead people were rising on a frequent basis: Jesus’ resurrection wouldn’t be anything special. It wouldn’t stand out to us and as a result, would be forgotten by history.

          Imagine the following conversation between Peter and a potential convert:

          Peter: “Jesus is the Messiah!”

          Potential Convert: “Oh yeah? How do you know He’s really the Messiah?”

          Peter: “He died on the cross, but God raised Him from the dead!”

          Potential Convert: “What’s so special about that? People come back from the dead all the time. My Uncle Bob came back from the dead 2 weeks ago.”

          Miracles need to be rare so that when they occur, they stick out like a sore thumb. I’m not even going to address your comment about the evidence for James’ conversion because if you actually took the time to read my material on this matter, you’d know the evidence for it is quite good, and that the only thing in need of debate is how you best explain it (along with the other postmortem appearances). Although I grow tired of repeating myself, I’ll say again that my website CerebralFaith.blogspot.com has articles you can read on this (such as “A Quick Case For The Resurrection Of Jesus” http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2017/04/a-quick-case-for-jesus-resurrection.html for example), and there’s a whole chapter dedicated to this subject in “Inference To The One True God” (https://www.amazon.com/Inference-One-True-God-Believe/dp/1535461292/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471305157&sr=8-1&keywords=Inference+To+The+One+True+God) .

          Reply
          • Vinny says:

            The evidence is not quite good. As I noted above, it consists of ancient writings of largely unknown authorship filled with fantastic stories based on undetermined sources which are removed an unknown number of times in an oral tradition from the stories’ originators who may or may not have had any personal knowledge of the events in question.

            Miracles are extremely rare, which is why the most probable explanations for miracle stories is

            Imagine trying to write a history of the origins of Mormonism based solely on the official accounts written by the Latter Day Saints decades after the facts. You wouldn’t know about any of the scandals associated with the early movement like the Kirtland bank fraud. As the Mormons didn’t openly adopt polygamy until they reached Utah, you might end up thinking that Joseph Smith was the faithful husband of a single wife.

            Imagine trying to figure out what happened in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947 based on books written by UFO fanatics written in the 1980’s. Would you believe the fantastic stories of alien autopsies simply because those were the only reports that you had?

            In both cases, fantastic stories flourished among true believers despite contrary objective reports. Unfortunately, when it comes to the origins of Christianity, we only have the fantastic stories told by the true believers. That is not quite bad evidence.

            You are of course under no obligation to respond to my points concerning the conversion of James, but I can assure you that I am well versed on the topic. There are no accounts of his conversion in the Bible. There are a couple of apocryphal works that describe him as part of the movement prior to the crucifixion. While these cannot be taken as historically reliable, they do provide evidence of the earliest traditions concerning James.

            Miracles are quite rare. That is why the most plausible explanations for any miracle story are human foibles such as ignorance, superstition, wishful thinking, gullibility, and prevarication. The Minimal Facts approach is nothing more that apologetic smoke and mirrors.

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