In a discussion of mythicism and of Maurice Casey’s treatment of a miracle story in the Gospel of Mark, the broader issue of what historians can say about accounts of healings and miracles is bound to come up. A historian can never rightly conclude that a miracle or other supernatural event has occurred. But surely a historian can conclude that it is likely that a historical person recovered from illness, and even that it was believed that that recover was due to divine or other supernatural assistance.
Augustine’s City of God 22:8-10 offers some accounts of people recovering from illness and attributing their recovery to God. I thought it might provide a useful starter for discussion of the relationship between healing and history. A historian must have a certain degree of skepticism. My question is whether a historian would have to have an inordinate degree of skepticism in order to deny that some people whom Augustine knew or knew of genuinely recovered from illnesses in the manner Augustine describes (albeit not in every detail). What do you think, and why? And why, if at all, would the case of Jesus be different, in your opinion?