weather conditions, creating a cold period some 2,500 to 1,500 years
ago, could have created a hard-to-see floating ice surface on the Sea
of Galilee, a scientist said yesterday in an attempt to scientifically
explain the Gospel miracle which recounts Jesus’ walk on water.
The study, reported in LiveScience and detailed in the April issue of the Journal of Paleolimnology, suggests that Jesus could have walked on this isolated patch of floating ice as opposed to walking on water. Some religion experts however, are writing off the theory as an attempt to force a scientific explanation on the miraculous.
In the study, scientists considered a small section of the cold freshwater surface of Lake Kinneret in northern Israel, where salty springs empty into it nearby. They also studied temperature records of the Mediterranean Sea surface and used analytical ice and statistical models.
The results suggest temperatures dropped to -4 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) for up to two days during one of two cold spells, between 2,500 and 1,500 years ago.
With such conditions, says the study, a floating patch of ice could develop above the plumes resulting from the salty springs along the lake's western shore in Tabgha, where many archeological findings related to Jesus have been found.
"We simply explain that unique freezing processes probably happened in that region only a handful of times during the last 12,000 years," said Doron Nof, a Florida State University professor of oceanography. "We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account."
Nof figures during the time period when Jesus lived, such “spring ice” may have formed once every 30 to 60 years. Such floating ice in the unfrozen waters of the lake would be hard to spot, especially if rain had smoothed its surface, he said.
Blog writer Mollie Ziegler criticizes the study on GerReligion.org. Referring to the biblical story where Jesus walks on water, she notes that the walking on water incident occurs immediately after Jesus feeds thousands with the few loaves and fishes and tells them to recline on the “green grass,” a detail which suggests warm weather.
In addition, she writes, it is “amazing that a boat could be battling rough seas at the same time Jesus was walking on ice nearby.”
“It’s interesting to see so much media coverage of scientific attempts to explain either supernatural occurrences or issues of spirituality. It’s also interesting to contrast with the media treatment of religious explanations of scientific phenomena,” Ziegler notes.
“When any group questions or raises concerns with the current scientific explanation for a given issue, it rarely if ever gets to just tell its side of the story without rebuttal. And that’s only fair and right,” she said.
“But when some scientist comes up with an outlandish explanation debunking Christ’s power, it would be nice if reporters would seek a response from other scientists or followers of Jesus who could explain the significance of the story,” she concluded.