Michael R. Licona

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Michael R. Licona
Michael R. Licona.jpg
Academic background
EducationLiberty University
Alma materUniversity of Pretoria
ThesisThe Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus: historiographical considerations in the light of recent debates (2008)
Academic work
InstitutionsHouston Baptist University
WebsiteRisen Jesus

Michael R. Licona (born 1961)[1] is an American New Testament scholar and author. He is Associate Professor in Theology at Houston Baptist University, Extraordinary Associate Professor of Theology at North-West University and the director of Risen Jesus, Inc. Licona specializes in the Resurrection of Jesus, and in the literary analysis of the Gospels as Greco-Roman biographies.

Interview with Brian Marshall at the Christian Student Fellowship at the University of Kentucky


Licona was raised in a Christian family. When he entered Liberty University, he planned to become a musician and obtained a bachelor's degree in music performance (saxophone).[1]

Licona has a M.A. in religious studies from Liberty University and a Ph.D. in New Testament studies from the University of Pretoria.[1] He served as an apologetics coordinator at the North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention) from 2005 through 2011, when he resigned as a result of the controversy surrounding his book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach,[2] which was otherwise well received.[3][4] Licona has lectured on more than 100 university campuses and has appeared on television and radio programs.[5]

Since 2012, Licona has been Associate Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University and since 2014 he has been Extraordinary Associate Professor of Theology at North-West University.[6]

Academic career[edit]

Licona's book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach seeks to prove Jesus's bodily resurrection, and was praised for "the painstaking care" with which Licona researched his topic.[3][4] It also led to Licona's departure from Southern Evangelical Seminary.[7][8]

In a passage in his book, Licona questioned the literal interpretation of the story of the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27, suggesting the possibility that it might be apocalyptic imagery.[9] This led to evangelicals Norman Geisler and Albert Mohler accusing Licona of denying the full inerrancy of the Bible in general and the Gospel narratives in particular.[10] Licona maintained that the interpretation he proposed had nothing to do with whether the Gospels are inerrant but was a matter of how to interpret it as Matthew had intended (i.e., hermeneutics). In the course of events, Licona resigned in 2011 from his position as research professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary and as apologetics coordinator for the North American Mission Board (NAMB).[8] Other evangelical scholars such as William Lane Craig, J.P. Moreland, and Gary Habermas voiced their support for Licona by signing an open letter to Geisler.[11] Michael F. Bird likewise supported Licona.[12] The Southeastern Theological Review devoted their Summer 2012 issue to discussions on Licona's book (edited by Heath Thomas and Robert Stewart), including reviews by Gary Habermas, Timothy McGrew, and C. Behan McCullagh. It also included a virtual roundtable discussion with participants Heath Thomas, Michael Licona, Craig Blomberg, Paul Copan, Charles Quarles, Michael Kruger and Daniel Akin.[13]

In the course of the controversy over the raised saints in the Gospel of Matthew, Evangelicals such as Norman Geisler, Albert Mohler and F. David Farnell have questioned whether Licona is moving away from his evangelical views and is headed in a similar path traveled by the agnostic New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman.[14] While asserting his belief in the divine authority of the Bible and its inerrancy, he maintains he cannot presuppose these beliefs while engaged in historical research. He also claims the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is not a doctrine fundamental to the Christian faith. In a radio exchange with Ehrman, Licona said that if Jesus actually rose from the dead, Christianity is true even if it were also true that some things in the Bible were not.[15] Licona noted what he saw as several problems with the argument for inerrancy provided by Norman Geisler.[16]

Licona has often debated Bart D. Ehrman over his positions about Jesus and his resurrection. Despite this, the two are personally friends and Licona has published articles as a guest on Ehrman's blog.[17][18]



  • ——— (2008). The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus: historiographical considerations in the light of recent debates (Ph.D.). Pretoria, SA: University of Pretoria.


  • ——— (1998). Behold, I Stand At the Door and Knock: What to Say to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses When They Knock on Your Door. Truth Quest Publishers. ASIN B00126UFDS.
  • ———; Habermas, Gary R. (2004). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel. ISBN 978-0-8254-2788-6. OCLC 123818389.
  • ——— (2006). Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. ISBN 978-0-8010-6602-3.
  • ——— (2010). The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downer's Grove, IL: IVP Academic. ISBN 978-0-8308-2719-0.
  • Licona, Michael R. (2017). Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? What We Can Learn From Ancient Biography. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190264260.
  • Licona, Michael R. (2020). Raised on the Third Day: Defending the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus. Bellingham, US: Lexham Press. ISBN 9781683594321.

As editor[edit]

  • ———; Dembski, William, eds. (2010). Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy & Science. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. ISBN 978-0-8010-7260-4.


  1. ^ a b c "Michael Licona Interview". The Best Schools. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  2. ^ Jr, Bobby Ross. "Interpretation Sparks a Grave Theology Debate". ChristianityToday.com. Retrieved 2019-03-07.
  3. ^ a b Beasley-Murray, Paul (2011). "The resurrection of Jesus: a new historiographical approach". Evangelical Quarterly. 83 (3): 274–75.
  4. ^ a b Quarles, Charles (2011). "The resurrection of Jesus: a new historiographical approach" (PDF). Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 54 (4): 839–44.
  5. ^ Michael R. Licona. Intervarsity Press.
  6. ^ "Curriculum Vitae - Michael R. Licona". Risen Jesus, Inc. 2013-12-13. Retrieved 2021-12-25.
  7. ^ Anderson, Garwood (February 2012). "Bedrock Evidence Resurrected". The Living Church: 13–14. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Interpretation sparks Theology debate", Christianity today, Nov 2011.
  9. ^ "A Roundtable Discussion with Michael Licona on The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach" (PDF). Southeastern Theological Review. 3 (1): 71–98. 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  10. ^ Geisler, Norman, Mike Licona inerrancy worse.
  11. ^ Michael Licona response to Norm Geisler (blog) (press release), Reclaiming the mind, Sep 2011.
  12. ^ Euangelion (2011-09-14). "Michael Licona on the Resurrection of Jesus". Euangelion. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  13. ^ "Roundtable Discussion - Risen Jesus, Inc". Risen Jesus, Inc. 2015-07-04. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  14. ^ Mohler, Albert. "Biblical Inerrancy and the Licona Controversy". The Christian Post. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Bart Ehrman & Mike Licona Discuss Decisions". Risen Jesus. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  16. ^ "On Chicago's Muddy Waters". Risen Jesus. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  17. ^ Licona, Michael R. "I Befriended Bart Ehrman by Debating Him". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2021-08-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ BDEhrman. "Is the Bible Inerrant? Guest Post by Mike Licona". The Bart Ehrman Blog. Retrieved 2021-08-30.

External links[edit]