Have you heard the latest buzz? Doron Nof, a professor from Florida State University believes Jesus walked on a thin piece of ice, not water. I don’t know about you, but to me, this is almost laughable. I mean, have they run out of good arguments to contradict the person and work of Christ? Let’s see if this “belief” really stands up.
The accounts of Jesus’ walk on the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberius) are found in Matthew 14, Mark 6 and John 6. This event succeeded the feeding of the 5000. John 6:4 tells us a Passover was celebrated in between. The Passover was usually celebrated in the Jewish month of Nisan (late March early April for us). In fact many scholars agree the walk on water occurred in the spring of 29 AD. Keep in mind that water freezes at 32 Fahrenheit, 0 Celsius. My quick perusing of the internet revealed that experts agree that for safety purposes, ice needs to be at a minimum 4 inches thick to support a human. We’re in April now and the forecasted low for that area is in the high 50’s. Even if you account for the seasonal storms, the temperature is not going to lower to the point or at the rate needed to freeze the surface 4 inches. In addition, the text does not support the ice view.
First, Mark 6:9 said the disciples were wearing sandals. In those days, sandals were common and styled similar to the foot thongs worn to beaches and made of tough leather. This would not be reasonable footwear for a freezing night. In addition, the soles were made of wood. Jesus was not wearing Air Jordan’s. He would have slipped and fallen on ice with wooden soles. Second, the Bible said Jesus was on the sea (thalassa) and Peter was on the water (hudor). Nowhere in any of these passages is the word “ice” used. Ice appears only four times in the Bible and all in the Old Testament. Third, John 6:19 said the disciples traveled three to four miles out into the sea when they met Jesus. I guess the skeptics want us to believe experienced fisherman, not in a Coast Guard cutter, but a small wooden fishing boat, dared to navigate through three to four miles of 4 inch thick ice. In addition, Peter did more than just sink when he was out there. The Greek suggests he was violently thrown and swallowed by the water. Where is the report of his hypothermia? This ice theory makes no sense.
While I was in the process if gathering my notes for this writing, two more ridiculous notions made their way to the forefront. The first was the discovery of the gospel of Judas in Egypt. Apparently this writing suggests that Jesus instructed Judas to betray him. This is unmerited: (1) Jesus was of sound mind. Who in their right mind would request to be captured knowing they would be killed unjustly? (2) Judas is not the author of this “gospel.” It was written during the time of the Gnostic gospels and they have been proven to be unreliable sources. (3) The Bible can be corroborated by the works of Josephus, Tacitus, and others. There is nothing to corroborate Judas’ gospel. The second notion is that by Dr. James Tabor. He claims to have discovered Jesus’ family tomb. As a result he concluded Jesus had an earthly father. Here is why Dr. Tabor’s theory falls short: (1) Jesus was not buried in a family tomb. He was buried in the tomb Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 23:53). Luke even said no one had ever been laid there. If this were a family tomb, why isn’t Mary’s husband, Joseph there? (2) Dr. Tabor did not find the body of Jesus in this tomb. We know why that was so. (3) To deny the conception by the Holy Spirit because of the existence of a family tomb is totally speculative. It is absent of the connecting dots.
These attacks on Christianity should come as no surprise. Skeptics have come and gone but the truth of Scripture has always supported itself and passed every test with flying colors. Our Father, Savior, and Holy Spirit knew times like these would come. The Bible has answered and will continue to answer the critics’ useless attempts to discredit it. I pray the church continues to stay rooted in God’s word and defend itself against these futile attacks.
“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NASB)