Blessed to be a Blessing

Miracles in Jewish and Christian Antiquity: Imagining Truth – John C. Cavadini e.d.

Cavadini is the editor of the series of papers presented in Miracles in Jewish and Christian Antiquity. He writes in the preface, “The essays in this collection originated in the annual year-long seminar on Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity held in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.”[1] The papers all revolve around miracles in the ancient world. Cavadini presents them first by tracing the history of the problem of miracles and continuing through 51pymBF-e1L__SS500_the Biblical period, post-Biblical period, and drawing on both Testaments as well as Jewish sources. Although they explore different ideas surrounding miracles ,”in the end, all of the essays explore ways in which miracles stories, both biblical and postbiblical, invite us into the realm of the imagination as itself a locus, and in some cases a privileged locus, of truth.”[2] This is the ultimate thesis of Miracles in Jewish and Christian Antiquity; to explore the miracles and how the invite the reader into imagination.

The strength of this collection of papers is in the scholarship. The academic work presented is of the highest quality and writers present their information in a way that acknowledges multiple academic disciplines as they explore the miracle texts of their individual papers. The papers bring to life not only the theological points of their miracle texts but the social and historical developments surrounding the events and interpretations throughout history. I personally found the Cultural and Social Questions Checklist[3] to be particularly helpful in understanding miracles from a multi-disciplinary point of view. The collection of papers does have a downside, the fact that it is a collection of papers. Honestly, I see no reason for this publication other than the fact that they wanted a collection of all the papers presented for the 95-96 seminar on Miracles. Each stands alone and there is no interaction between chapters and thus no development of a main idea or thesis. The individual papers have development and purpose but the book seems as if it lacks direction.

[1] John C. Cavadini, Miracles in Jewish and Christian Antiquity: Imagining Truth, Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1999,vii.

[2] Ibid, ix.

[3] Ibid, 39.


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