John P. Meier, «The Present State of the Third Quest for the Historical Jesus: Loss and Gain», Vol. 80 (1999) 459-487
Despite the questionable method and positions of the Jesus Seminar, the third quest for the historical Jesus has resulted in seven notable gains as compared with the old quests. (1) The third quest has an ecumenical and international character. (2) It clarifies the question of reliable sources. (3) It presents a more accurate picture of first-century Judaism. (4) It employs new insights from archaeology, philology, and sociology. (5) It clarifies the application of criteria of historicity. (6) It gives proper attention to the miracle tradition. (7) It takes the Jewishness of Jesus with utter seriousness.
sayings about exorcism in both Mark and Q give the answer in terms of Gods powerful reign already present and vanquishing the power of Satan over the lives of individual members of Gods chosen people. Likewise, many individual healing narratives in Mark lack any wider explanation, which instead is given by the Q logion of Jesus in Matt 11,5-6 par.: the hoped-for healing of Gods people in the end-time, prophesied by Isaiah, is now coming to pass. What is noteworthy here is how deeds and sayings cut across different sources and form-critical categories to create a meaningful whole. This neat, elegant, and unforced "fit" argues strongly for the basic historicity of the miracle tradition in the gospels.
One could add secondary arguments from the other criteria, though their probative value in this case is debatable. For example, discontinuity does point out that accounts of Jesus miracles were written down by Mark and Q some forty years after the events narrated. By comparison, written versions of the miracle traditions of Apollonius of Tyana, H9oni the Circle Drawer, and Hanina ben-Dosa were composed only centuries after the events recorded. Then, too, in the early rabbinic sources, H9oni and H9anina are represented as holy men whose powerful prayers were answered with needed rainfall or the healing of illness. They themselves, though, in the earliest traditions, are not represented as miracle-workers in the strict sense of that term the sense in which Jesus was considered a miracle-worker during his public ministry.
Minor support might also be sought from the striking fact that, far from engaging in wild legendary creations of names of petitioners, beneficiaries, and places, most miracle stories are bereft of such concrete information. Indeed, a later gospel such as Matthew sometimes drops these traits when they exist in Mark. All the more noteworthy, then, are the very rare cases where such names do occur: namely, the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the healing of the blind Bartimaeus near Jericho, and the raising of Lazarus at Bethany. I hasten to add that these minor considerations are just that, minor. But they may have a certain confirmatory force when added to the arguments from the major criteria of multiple attestation and coherence.
Nevertheless, there is a logical Achilles heel in this global argument, especially in regard to the criterion of multiple attestation. At first glance, the multiple attestation is massive and impressive. But what if we examined the various miracle stories in the different