Michael R. Licona

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Mike Licona)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Michael R. Licona
Michael R. Licona.jpg
Born (1961-07-17) July 17, 1961 (age 57)
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. 'Mike' Licona (born July 17, 1961)[1] is an American New Testament scholar, Christian apologist and historian. He is Associate Professor in Theology at Houston Baptist 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 wanted to go into the ministry as a musician and obtained an undergraduate degree in music performance (saxophone). He is also an accomplished martial artist, having studied under Sang Ki Eun and Robert Fujimura,[2] the former having studied under Taekwondo's founder, Choi Hung Hi, the latter having been Executive Director of the United States Taekwondo Union.[3]

Licona has a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies (University of Pretoria) which he completed "with distinction" and the highest mark as well as an M.A. in Religious Studies from Liberty University. He was the Apologetics Coordinator at the North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist Convention) from 2005 through 2011. His book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach is now regarded as one of the finest treatments of the subject and has been endorsed by many prominent New Testament scholars and historians.[4][5][6] Licona has lectured on more than 100 university campuses and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including Faith Under Fire.[7] He appeared in the DVD version of The Case for Christ and was one of the scholars interviewed in Strobel’s book The Case for the Real Jesus.[8] Licona also appears in a documentary film that was released February 2015 titled "Mining for God" which deals with how Christianity is often misrepresented and misunderstood in modern western culture. In 2010, Licona was awarded Alumnus of the Year by Liberty Theological Seminary.[9] In August 2017, Licona was elected for full membership into the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (Society for New Testament Studies).[10]


Gospel differences[edit]

Licona’s most recent book is Why Are There Differences in the Gospels. Licona views the Gospels as bearing close affinities to the genre of ancient biography and contends they are best interpreted with this in mind, since ancient biographies were written with slightly different rules than those used with modern biographies. Licona’s book focuses on identifying compositional devices prescribed in the compositional textbooks of that period as well as those that can be inferred when reading how Plutarch tells the same stories on two or more occasions. Licona then assesses nineteen stories about Jesus that appear in two or more of the canonical Gospels while keeping in mind their biographical genre and asking whether compositional devices account for the differences one observes.[11]

Historical case for Jesus' resurrection[edit]

Licona’s doctoral research concerned investigating Jesus’s resurrection using the methodology of a historian. He states that almost all scholars writing on the subject of Jesus’s resurrection are biblical scholars and philosophers, and virtually none of them have any training in matters pertaining to the philosophy of history and the historical method of comparing hypotheses.[12] Licona contributes a primer on these subjects and applies his findings to the question of whether Jesus had actually risen from the dead in his book The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. This volume is 718 pages in length and is documented with more than 2,000 footnotes.[13]

Matthew 27 controversy[edit]

In a passage in his 2010 book, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, 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.[14] 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.[15] 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).[16] 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.[17] Michael Bird likewise supported Licona.[18] 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.[19]


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.[20] 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.[21] Licona noted what he saw as several problems with the argument for inerrancy provided by Norman Geisler.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Licona is married to Debbie and has two children; a daughter Allie and a son Zach. Licona's son-in-law Nick Peters is a Christian apologist who blogs on a regular basis[23] and has a weekly podcast called Deeper Waters.[24]

Debates and dialogues[edit]

  • Shapiro, Larry (atheist) (February 22, 2018), Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?, University of Findlay.
  • Ehrman, Bart (atheist) (February 21, 2018), Are the Gospels Historically Reliable?, Kennesaw State University.
  • Friesen, Courtney (January 29, 2018), Are Christian Claims Verifiable & Does It Matter?, University of Arizona (Tuscon).
  • Shapiro, Larry (atheist) (February 26, 2017), Resurrected or Reimagined?, Ohio State University.
  • Dillahunty, Matt (atheist) (February 25, 2017), Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?, Austin Baptist Church (Austin, TX ).
  • McCormick, Matthew (atheist) (September 14, 2016), Jesus' Resurrection: History or Mistake?, Sacramento State University.
  • Ally, Shabir (Muslim) (April 1, 2016), Jesus: Resurrected or Rescued?, University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
  • Ehrman, Bart (atheist) (2016), Are the Gospels Historically Reliable Accounts of Jesus., The Best Schools.org.
  • Fales, Evan (atheist) (2014-06-24), Can historians investigate miracle claims?, St. Paul, MN: University of St. Thomas, and Did Jesus rise from the dead?.
  • Martin, Dale (October 19, 2012), Did Jesus Think He was Divine?, Acadia Divinity College.
  • Martin, Dale (October 18, 2012), Did Jesus Rise Physically from the Dead?, Saint Mary's University.
  • Cavin, Greg (Jul 2012), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, Antioch Church.
  • Puckett, Shane (Agnostic) (Jan 2012), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, West Monroe Baptist Church.
  • Ismail, Yusuf (Muslim) (Sep 2011), What was the 1st century fate of Jesus, ZA: University of Potchefstroom.
  • Piennar, Abel (Sep 2011), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, ZA: University of Pretoria
  • Wolmarans, Hansi and, Spangenbergi, Sakki (2010), 2 on 2 debate with William Lane Craig, ZA: University of Pretoria
  • Craffert, Peter (May 2010), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, ZA: University of Johannesburg
  • Patterson, Stephen (Jesus Seminar) (Mar 2010), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, Florida State University.
  • Carrier, Richard (Atheist) (Feb 2010), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, Washburn University.
  • Ehrman, Bart (Agnostic) (April 2009), Can Historians Prove that Jesus Rose from the Dead?, Southern Evangelical Seminary.
  • Ehrman, Bart (Agnostic) (February 2008), Can Historians Prove that Jesus Rose from the Dead?, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Ataie, Ali (Muslim) (November 2006), What was the First Century Fate of Jesus?, University of California (Davis)
  • Yothment, Steve (Atheist) (March 2006), Resolution: God Created Man, University of Georgia
  • Pagels, Elaine (April 2005), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, Ron Insana Show
  • Pagels, Elaine (Feb 2005), "The Gospel of Thomas", Faith Under Fire
  • Ally, Shabir (Muslim) (Nov 2004), "Who was Jesus: Divine or Prophet?", Faith Under Fire
  • Carrier, Richard (Apr 2004), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, UCLA
  • Ally, Shabir (Muslim) (Mar 2004), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, Regent University
  • Barker, Dan (Atheist) (Apr 2003), Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, Madison: The University of Wisconsin



  • ——— (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.

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. ^ U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com), 2010.
  2. ^ "Michael Licona Interview". The Best Schools. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  3. ^ "About Taekwondo". Taekwondo club.
  4. ^ "The Resurrection of Jesus". InterVarsity Press. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  5. ^ Beasley-Murray, Paul (2011). "The resurrection of Jesus: a new historiographical approach". Evangelical Quarterly. 83 (3): 274–75.
  6. ^ Quarles, Charles (2011). "The resurrection of Jesus: a new historiographical approach". Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 54 (4): 839–44.
  7. ^ "Faith Under Fire: Michael Licona and Elaine Pagels". You tube. Google. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Faculty Page". Houston Baptist University. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Risen Jesus. February 28, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  10. ^ "Short Bio". Risen Jesus. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Why Are There Differences in the Gospels" (You tube) (video). Google. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  12. ^ Licona, Michael R. (2010). The resurrection of Jesus : a new historiographical approach (2nd print. ed.). Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic. pp. 611–612. ISBN 0830827196.
  13. ^ Anderson, Garwood. "Review Essay". Academia. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ Geisler, Norman, Mike Licona inerrancy worse.
  16. ^ "Interpretation sparks Theology debate", Christianity today, Nov 2011.
  17. ^ Michael Licona response to Norm Geisler (World wide web log) (press release), Reclaiming the mind, Sep 2011.
  18. ^ Euangelion (2011-09-14). "Michael Licona on the Resurrection of Jesus". Euangelion. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  19. ^ "Roundtable Discussion - Risen Jesus, Inc". Risen Jesus, Inc. 2015-07-04. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  20. ^ Mohler, Albert. "Biblical Inerrancy and the Licona Controversy". The Christian Post. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  21. ^ "Bart Ehrman & Mike Licona Discuss Decisions". Risen Jesus. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  22. ^ "On Chicago's Muddy Waters". Risen Jesus. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  23. ^ Peters, Nick. "Deeper Waters". Word press. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  24. ^ Peters, Nick. "Deeper Waters Podcast". Word press. Retrieved 17 February 2017.

External links[edit]