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University research: Jesus walked on ice

Sea of Galilee (Bibleandscience.com)

A Florida State University researcher believes he has a natural explanation for the biblical account of Jesus’ miraculous walk on the surface of the Sea of Galilee – ice.

Professor of Oceanography Doron Nof and the co-authors of his study theorize that a rare combination of optimal water and atmospheric conditions resulted in a unique, localized freezing phenomenon called “springs ice,” according to Physorg.com, which specializes in news about science, technology, physics and space.

A frozen patch of ice floating on the surface of the lake would be difficult to distinguish from the surrounding unfrozen water, making it appear as if Jesus were walking on water, according to the theory.

Nof’s study – with Prof. Ian McKeague of Columbia University’s biostatistics department and Prof. Nathan Paldor of Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s department of atmospheric science – is titled “Is There A Paleolimnological Explanation for ‘Walking on Water’ in the Sea of Galilee?” The study appears in the April 2006 Journal of Paleolimnology, a scientific publication that addresses the reconstruction of lake history.

“As natural scientists, we simply explain that unique freezing processes probably happened in that region only a handful of times during the last 12,000 years,” Nof said, according to Physorg.com “We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account.”

Matthew 14:22-33 says in the New King James Version:


Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

The Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, is known today as Lake Kinneret.

Nof’s study used paleoceanographic records of the Mediterranean Sea’s surface temperatures, combined with analytical ice and statistical models to arrive at his conclusions. He and his colleagues believe their analysis of a small section of Lake Kinneret, near salty springs, supports the likelihood a brief blast of frigid air, combined with generally cooler weather during that time period, produced the conditions in which an ice patch could develop.

Professor Doron Nof of Florida State University

“In today’s climate, the chance of springs ice forming in northern Israel is effectively zero, or about once in more than 10,000 years,” Nof said.

“If you ask me if I believe someone walked on water, no, I don’t,” he told Reuters. “Maybe somebody walked on the ice, I don’t know. I believe that something natural was there that explains it.”

“We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account.”

Nof also is known for his theory about the parting of the Red Sea in the book of Exodus. He suggests a combination of strong winds and a land ridge in the Red Sea could explain how Moses was able to lead the Israelites to safety from the pursuing Egyptian army.

Physorg.com notes Nof has received numerous honors throughout his career, including the prestigious Nansen Medal from the European Geosciences Union last year.


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