Stories about the Gospel of Judas have been the rage the past few days, but I find this story even more interesting. (And the Christians are sending one hate e-mail every three minutes or so, according to the professor.)
Jesus walked on water, according to the Bible, but a professor says he may have actually walked on a hard-to-see patch of ice.
Doron Nof, a Florida State University professor of oceanography, said a rare combination of water and atmospheric conditions in the Sea of Galilee about 2,000 years ago may offer a scientific explanation for one of the miracles recounted in the Bible.
Nof, a native of Israel, said a patch of ice floating in the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a freshwater lake, would have been difficult to distinguish from unfrozen water surrounding it.
"I'm not trying to provide any information that has to do with theology here," Nof said in an interview Wednesday. "All we've thought is about the natural process. What theologians or anybody else does with that, it's their business, so to speak."
According to the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark and John, Jesus' disciples were out on the Galilee at night when a storm came up. Jesus walked to the terrified men, who thought he was a ghost, according to the accounts.
Nof's research appears in the April issue of the Journal of Paleolimnology, a publication on the reconstruction of lake histories. Nof's co-authors are biostatistics professor Ian McKeague of Columbia University and atmospheric science professor Nathan Paldor of Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
They came up with the theory after studying records of long-ago water temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea, based on core samples of shells and other animal remains taken from the bottom.
The records indicated that two lengthy periods 2,500 to 1,500 years ago were chilly enough for ice patches to form during cold spells on the Sea of Galilee, said Nof.
The unfrozen water surrounding the ice would have come from salty springs along the lake's western shore, he said. Salty water freezes at lower temperatures than fresh water.