The word miracle, as the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, is derived from the Latin word miraculum, itself from mirari, the verb to wonder. Throughout the gospels, many of the miracles performed by Jesus are recorded as doing just this — arousing wonder. But there is one miracle that is the most wonderful of all that He did and that is His resurrection from the dead.
In his book, The Resurrection of God Incarnate, Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne helps us to appreciate the revelatory significance of this miracle in a new light.
Swinburne approaches the truth of the Incarnation and the resurrection from philosophy. He asks: What would our reason tell us to look for in an Incarnation? In other words, if God did become fully man, what characteristics would He exhibit? What would be the telltale signs? Of course, as Christians, all we have to do is take a gander through the gospels to find out but Swinburne wants to see what reason would tell us, before we cross the threshold of revelation.
Swinburne comes up with five criteria. If God became incarnate the God-man would have the following five marks:
1. He would lead a morally perfect life.
2. He would be a teacher of wisdom.
3. He would proclaim that He is God at some point in His public life.
4. His teaching would also include the claim that His life was meant to atone for the sins of mankind.
5. He would make arrangements to ensure that His teaching was passed down to future generations (see The Resurrection of God Incarnate, 55-59).
Many of these criteria become self-evident if one assumes certain things about God, such as His perfect goodness or His omniscience. And that’s exactly what Swinburne is doing. His aim is to not to ‘prove’ the existence of God or argue for a certain concept of God. (There’s simply no space to do all that in this book and he’s already done it in books like The Existence of God and The Coherence of Theism.)
So, for example, assuming a perfectly good God, it follows that He would also be a blameless man. Likewise, it is the nature of the good to be ‘self-communicating,’ as the Church Father known as Dionysius the Areopagite, among others, pointed out. So this perfectly pure upright God-man would teach others how to follow His example.
Read more at Catholic Exchange.