University of Saint Joseph to discuss the historicity of the events in the life of Jesus

Marco Carvalho

The vast majority of the historians and specialists of the classical period recognize that Jesus was an influential historical figure, but the consensus is not so broad regarding the interpretation of several of the events mentioned in the Gospels. This is the topic at the heart of the lecture “The facts about the fate of Jesus with which all historians agree,” which will take place on Tuesday at the Don Bosco Auditorium on the Ilha Verde campus of the University of Saint Joseph.

The Faculty of Religious Studies and Philosophy has invited Michael Licona, an associate professor of theology at the Baptist University of Houston, to share his conclusions on how the historical dimension of Christ can point to his divine nature. “I will be discussing historical methods and why the hypothesis that Jesus rose from the dead is the best explanation,” Professor Licona tells O Clarim. The American scholar adds, “Historians have no tools for identifying God. Of course, if there are no plausible natural explanations for an event and the event occurred in a context in which we might expect a God to act, we may be justified in believing a divine cause is responsible for the event. But such is different than proving a divine cause is responsible for it.”

An author of numerous books and member of the Society for New Testament Studies, Licona will present “facts about the fate of Jesus for which there is such strong data that a heterogeneous consensus of academics interprets them as facts,” like the crucifixion of Christ and the persecution of the Christians that followed.  Aware that objectivity in the study of Jesus’ life is extremely rare, the scholar will proceed to interpret the facts and try to understand where they can point. “One must posit an explanation for the strongly supported facts. The hypothesis that best explains them should be regarded as what probably occurred. In my opinion, the hypothesis ‘Jesus rose from the dead’ is the best explanation,” says Professor Licona, continuing, “That said, historians do not have any tools for identifying divine causation. Therefore, in this case, they must be content with concluding whether Jesus rose, and that if he did, they are unable to identify the cause of his resurrection.”

Doors wide open

The lecture is the first of a series of activities that the Faculty of Religious Studies and Philosophy of the University of Saint Joseph will promote next week. On Saturday, April 30th, the Seminary of Saint Joseph will open its doors to the local population starting from 11 am until 2 pm for the 2022 edition of the institution’s Open Day. The event encompasses a guided tour of the facility, a short lecture on the fundamentals and usefulness of philosophy, and Q&A sessions about the academic programs offered by USJ’s Faculty of Religious Studies and Philosophy. Visitors will also be able to tour an exhibition on the history of the Seminary of Saint Joseph and the Diocese of Macau.