The Number of Resuscitation Accounts Found in Craig Keener’s Miracles

I’m in a discussion with Jeffery Jay Lowder over at The Secular Outpost concerning Bayes’ Theorem and the adage “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” (ECREE). I’m skeptical that applying Bayes’ Theorem to historical claims will help us in our historical inquiries but it’s worth discussing.

One issue is how to calculate the prior probability of some event (i.e., before looking at the evidence for the event in question what is the chance that said event occurred). The resurrection of Christ is the event under discussion over there. Lowder gives the prior probability of the resurrection as 1 in 50 billion on the assumption that Jesus’ resurrection is the only alleged resurrection in history and that about 50 billion men (male humans not total humans) have ever lived.

I noted that there are a number of accounts of resuscitations. What is the difference between a resuscitation and a resurrection? A resuscitation occurs when someone dies, rises from the dead, and dies again (e.g., Lazarus). A resurrection is when someone dies and is raised from the dead to eternal life in a glorified body (e.g., Jesus Christ). I asked whether the prior probability of a resuscitation should be factored into determining the prior probability of a resurrection since a resurrection involves a resuscitation (and more). Lowder believes it should not but did ask about how many accounts of resuscitations there really are (note that we are dealing with the number accounts not investigating each account).

The purpose of this post is to partially answer that question by looking through Craig Keener’s book Miracles (reviewed here). Keep in mind that Keener has not mentioned every alleged resuscitation and that I am liable to miss even some that his book contains. I have tried to omit accounts recorded centuries after the alleged resuscitation or where it is unclear whether a person was dead or not (a few listed have question marks and you may decide for yourself). Consider this an approximation of the lowest possible number of alleged resuscitations.

Here are the resuscitation accounts I found:

  1. Elijah raised the son of the widow at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:7-24)
  2. Elisha raised the son of the Shunamitte (2 Kings 4:8-37)
  3. Jesus raised (?) the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:21-43)
  4. Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17)
  5. Jesus raised Lazarus (John 11:38-44)
  6. Peter raised Tabitha in Joppa (Acts 9:36-43)
  7. Paul raised (?) Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12)
  8. Irenaeus claimed that the church in his day often accomplished resuscitations (Against Heresies 2.31.2)
  9. Apollonius of Tyana raised (?) a woman about to be married (Flavius Philostratus, The Life of Apollonius 4.45)
  10. Augustine cites accounts from eyewitnesses of raisings from the dead (City of God 22.8)
  11. The followers of Simon Kimbangu (1889-1951) claimed that he raised the dead (p. 227)
  12. The son of an official of the Nishi tribe was raised after prayer (p. 278, 564)
  13. An indefinite number of resuscitations are said to have occurred during the Nias revival (1916-1922) (p. 288)
  14. A Three-Self pastor in China reports a dead girl recovering (p. 301, cf. p. 567)
  15. Leo Bawa, a Nigerian friend of Keener’s, prayed over a newborn who was restored to life (p. 309, 328, 508, 554, 753)
  16. Dr. J. Ayodeji Adwuya witnessed his newborn son that was declared dead at birth raised after 20 minutes of prayer (p. 310, 552, 752)
  17. The Zulu evangelist William Duma is said to have raised a girl from the dead in the mid-20th century (p. 323, 551)
  18. Pastor Daniel Ndoundou (1911-1986) had a reputation for miracle working including an indefinite number of resuscitations from the dead (p. 333)
  19. An informant tells Keener that he has “seen numerous healing and resurrections” (p. 344)
  20. Allegedly the first bishop of Mesopotamia was converted through witnessing a Syrian evangelist Addai raise someone from the dead in AD 99 (p. 366, 544; Chronicle of Arbil 2-3).
  21. A man appears to have risen from the dead in response to the prayers of John Wesley (p. 383; Journal 56 [December 25, 1742])
  22. Keener knew a witness to the raising of a drowned baby (p. 436)
  23. Another person was brought back to life after 9 hours underwater (p. 436)
  24. A student of Keener’s claimed that he was raised from the dead as a child (p. 445)
  25. T. L. Osborn is said to have raised a baby from the dead (p. 458 n. 152)
  26. The Healing Rooms website reports a Sylvia K. being raised after apparently 4 hours of death (p. 492 n. 393)
  27. Anthropologist Bilinda Straight has filled notebooks with reports of raisings among the Samburu (p. 539 n. 261)
  28. Martin of Tours (316-397) is said to have raised three corpses from the dead (p. 544)
  29. Albert J. Hebert has written a book, Raised From the Dead: True Stories of 400 Resuscitation Miracles, containing 400 accounts of raisings (how many overlap the examples in this list I don’t know) (p. 544)
  30. Roger of Conway falls to his death on September 6, 1303 but recovered in front of 200 witnesses after someone invoked the name of a saint (p. 544)
  31. A medieval girl who drowned was raised to life after prayers were offered to St. Thomas Cantilupe (p. 544)
  32. Welshman William Cragh was hanged to death and cut down after a few hours. After some prayer to St. Thomas he came back to life (p. 544-545).
  33. Missionary Francis Xavier is said to have raised the dead (p. 545)
  34. In 1595 an infant came back to life after an hour or two of prayer (p. 545)
  35. On August 5, 1678 the cold body of a boy pronounced dead was raised (p. 545)
  36. John Welch raised a youth who went on to become Lord Castlesteuart of Ireland (p. 545)
  37. 14 accounts of resuscitations are associated with Smith Wigglesworth (p. 546)
  38. A woman associated with a West Indian Pentecostal church planting in the UK was raised (p. 546)
  39. Rev. G. Edward Davis of Louisville, KY attests that a black and blue baby regained its color and life (p. 546)
  40. A 23-month old baby was raised in a Louisiana church in 1915 (p. 546)
  41. A baby in Poland returned to life after his father’s prayers (p. 546)
  42. Alta Washburn prayed over an Apache infant who returned to life (p. 546)
  43. African evangelist Pelendo raised a woman who had bled to death on September 7, 1930 in the village of Mongila (p. 551)
  44. Samuel Mutendi raised a girl named Miriam (p. 552)
  45. Samuel Oscoffa raised his nephew (p. 552 n. 341)
  46. Joseph Bababola raised a child (p. 552 n. 341)
  47. An Ethiopian church leader told researchers, who noted a woman rising from the dead, that such raisings are considered normal there (p. 552)
  48. A Western scholar heard two accounts of raisings in Ethiopia (p. 552)
  49. Gebru Woldu attests to the raising of Salam, a member of the Dire Dawa Full Gospel Church in Ethiopia (p. 553)
  50. A boy in Kinshasa, Congo was raised to life after being dead for hours and was photographed holding his death certificate (p. 553)
  51. A local minister in Congo raised a woman who had been dead for 4 days (p. 553)
  52. Josephine Bayingana raised a man who had been dead for six hours (p. 553)
  53. Ayo Oritsejafor prayed for a dead child who returned to life (p. 553)
  54. Geoffrey Numbere and other evangelism team members prayed for the raising of Lolo George on October 15, 1973. She returned to life (p. 554).
  55. Frank Azia died and he was prayed for for several hours as onlookers mocked. He returned to life and the event converted his son Philip (p. 554).
  56. Pastors working with Reinhard Bonnke raised someone named Ekechukwu (p. 555-6)
  57. Heidi and Rolland Baker and colleagues report 53 resuscitations as of 2007 (p. 556)
  58. The son of Pastor Nsouami was raised from the dead (p. 562)
  59. Sarah Speer, a Canadian missionary nurse working in the Congo, witnessed the raising of a baby born dead (p. 562-3)
  60. A raising through the prayers of Lang Do Khup in Myanmar is reported (p. 563)
  61. Robin Talbot and his wife witnessed a woman raised in northern Thailand in 1963 (p. 563)
  62. A 4-year-old boy who was dead for 4 days was raised (p. 563)
  63. A woman dead for 6 hours was raised (p. 563)
  64. A dead infant was raised (p. 563)
  65. An elderly woman successfully prayed for a boy to be raised just before the lid was to be placed on his coffin (p. 563-4)
  66. A 2-year-old girl’s decomposing body (she had been dead for 2 days) was restored to life (p. 564)
  67. A Hindu woman was raised through the prayers of her recently converted husband (p. 564)
  68. A dead girl was revived after the prayers of Father Joshua David (p. 564)
  69. Two sociologists report a woman returned to life after a pastor had been praying for her for several hours (p. 564)
  70. The prayers of an Indian pastor raised a dead girl who had worms coming out of her nose (p. 564)
  71. In May 2007 a Hindu boy, Vikram, was found at the bottom of a pool. One doctor declared the boy dead and another failed to resuscitate him. After an hour and a half of Christians praying over the boy he returned to life (p. 564-5).
  72. Dr. Julie Ma reported a dead woman was raised to life after Christian prayers were offered (a Buddhist lama had chanted prayers for hours beforehand) (p. 565)
  73. In May 1988 Pastor Joseph Maru raised a villager named Petrus in Papua New Guinea (p. 565)
  74. A Japanese man was raised from the dead in 1921 and claimed to have been in hell while dead (p. 565)
  75. A Japanese woman was also raised from the dead (p. 565)
  76. In 1932 a new believer prayed for a dead man who was then revived (p. 565-6)
  77. In 1926 it was reported that a man declared dead by doctors had been raised to life (p. 566)
  78. In 1951 a Chinese Lutheran pastor raised a dead corporal to life (p. 566)
  79. In 1992 Zhao Yu-e suffered an accident and was declared dead on arrival to the hospital at 10am. Believers prayed for the woman until 8am the next morning when she came back to life (p. 567).
  80. A dead boy was raised from the dead after his mother prayed for him, resulting in the conversion of the boy’s father (p. 567)
  81. A man was beaten to death but returned to life after believers prayed for him (p. 567)
  82. A 4-year-old boy drowned and was raised after prayer (p. 567)
  83. The son of Paul Yonggi Cho was raised after hours of prayer (p. 568)
  84. A South Korean Baptist minister is said to have raised 7 different people from the dead (p. 568)
  85. Shelley Hollis told Keener of a raising in Sri Lanka (p. 568)
  86. Noel Fernando died of a heart attack and was declared dead after doctors failed to resuscitate him. Believers in Sri Lanka continued to pray for him (not realizing he had already died) and he was raised 24 hours after being declared dead (p. 568).
  87. Chester Allan Tesoro of Mindanao, Philippines prayer over a dead baby and the baby came back to life (p. 569)
  88. About a century ago a Latin American woman named Nellie returned to life after being dead for several hours (p 570)
  89. Roberto Almaraz claims to have seen numerous healings and resuscitations over his 30 years of ministry (p 570)
  90. David Hogan claims to have been present at 28 raisings, mostly in Mexico (p 571 n 434)
  91. Peter Wagner heard the testimony of 3 people being raised from the dead in Brazil (p 571 n 435)
  92. The son of Carlos Alamino of Cuba was raised from the dead (p 571)
  93. As far as nurse Iris Lilia Fonseca Valdes could tell her 6-month-old daughter had died. After more than an hour of prayers her daughter came back to life (p 571).
  94. Keener notes the son of a Haitian man was brought back to life (p. 571)
  95. A 10-month-old baby was restored from death after prayer (p 571-2)
  96. Jim Sepulveda returned to life after being clinically dead for 8 minutes. The surgeon was filling out paperwork when he revived. His severely damaged heart was healed at the same time (p 572-3).
  97. A girl appears to be revived after prayer after she had been dead for 16 minutes (p 573)
  98. John Eric Cadenhead had no vital signs for over 40 minutes but was restored with no brain damage (p 573)
  99. A baby dead for 50 minutes returned to life (p 573)
  100. Dick and Debbie Riffle were members of Keener’s younger brother’s former church. At a home birth the baby emerged still-born, gray, and with the umbilical cord wrapped too tightly to release it. Debbie hemorrhaged internally and lost so much blood that she stopped breathing and had no pulse. Dick prayer for both of them and they both were revived (p 574).
  101. In 2006 Dr. Chauncey Crandall reported the raising of Jeff Markin who had been dead for 40 minutes (p. 577-9, 717)
  102. Keener came across medical documentation for a raising from the dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo (p. 718)
  103. Keener’s wife’s sister Therese Magnouha was raised to life after being dead for about 3 hours (p. 557-8, 735)
  104. Barachias Irons told Keener that Mother Elouise Jordan (1907-1982), a woman who had died of throat cancer that had destroyed her voice, was both raised and her voice healed (p. 548-9, 744-745)
  105. Elane Panelo died of liver cancer in 1984 or 1985 and was raised and healed of cancer after being dead for 2 hours (p 569-70, 753)
  106. Mama Jeanne Mabiala witnessed Marie being raised from the dead after prayer (p. 559-60, 754)
  107. Mama Jeanne Mabiala witnessed another woman raised from the dead during a prayer meeting (p 558-9, 754)
  108. Mama Jeanne Mabiala witnessed the raising of a dead baby named Mille Grace (p. 560, 754)
  109. Albert Bissouessoue reported the raising of a child dead for about 8 hours in Etoumbi in 1986 or 1987. The girl had been brought to six different witch doctors before it was brought to Albert’s house (p. 560-1, 754).
  110. Julienne Bissouessoue reported the raising of another person after she prayed (p. 561-2, 754)
  111. Antoinette Malombe reported the raising of her daughter who had gone 3 hours without breathing (p. 755)
  112. A woman in Thailand died but was raised after the local Christians prayed for her (p, 850)
  113. As a young monk St. George is said to have raised a man’s only son (p. 861; Antony, The Life of Saint George of Choziba 2.8)

Adding up the totals in the accounts above gives us 616 alleged resuscitations from the dead. Using Lowder’s apparent methodology, that means the prior probability of someone being resuscitated from the dead is about 616 in 100 billion (about 1 in  162,337,662). Feel free to double-check my math as it is easy to make an error.


3 thoughts on “The Number of Resuscitation Accounts Found in Craig Keener’s Miracles

  1. I’ve read many pages of Keener’s book on miracles and he does not separate the wheat from the chaff, he includes a tale about a regrown spleen, without noting that doctors acknowledge that spleens can regrow, he adds a note about a tale of regrown limbs from the 1600s, though even he questions it, and it involves a case of two rival religious groups trying to one-up each other, and Keener even includes a second-hand case of resurrection from some Pentecostal evangelists though admits it is questionable. He also admits that for all of his searching he cannot produce any relatively modern anecdotes about limbs regrown, but he repeats some tales “like it.”


  2. Neither myself nor Keener is claiming all of the accounts are accurate. The purpose of the post was merely to tally the number of resuscitation accounts.

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