April 4, 2006
Jesus May Have Walked On Ice, Not Water: Study
By Jim Loney
MIAMI -- The New Testament says that Jesus walked on water, but a Florida university professor believes there could be a less miraculous explanation -- he walked on a floating piece of ice.Professor Doron Nof also theorized in the early 1990s that Moses's parting of the Red Sea had solid science behind it.
Nof, a professor of oceanography at Florida State University, said on Tuesday that his study found an unusual combination of water and atmospheric conditions in what is now northern Israel could have led to ice formation on the Sea of Galilee.
Nof used records of the Mediterranean Sea's surface temperatures and statistical models to examine the dynamics of the Sea of Galilee, which Israelis know now as Lake Kinneret.
The study found that a period of cooler temperatures in the area between 1,500 and 2,600 years ago could have included the decades in which Jesus lived.
A drop in temperature below freezing could have caused ice thick enough to support a human to form on the surface of the freshwater lake near the western shore, Nof said. It might have been nearly impossible for distant observers to see a piece of floating ice surrounded by water.
Nof said he offered his study -- published in the April edition of the Journal of Paleolimnology -- as a "possible explanation" for Jesus' walk on water.
"If you ask me if I believe someone walked on water, no, I don't," Nof said. "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."
When he offered his theory 14 years ago that wind and sea conditions could explain the parting of the Red Sea, Nof said he received some hate mail, even though he noted that the idea could support the biblical description of the event.
And as his theory of Jesus' walk on ice began to circulate, he had more hate mail in his e-mail inbox.
"They asked me if I'm going to try next to explain the resurrection," he said.