David’s Meanderings on Walking on Water

A teacher of mine told us of a theory about this passage and others like Jesus’ baptism and the transfiguration. The theory goes that the disciples really didn’t understand that Jesus was more than just a wisdom teacher until after the resurrection. At that point Christians started to debate whether Jesus was sent from God, was God, or became divine in his resurrection. These stories are a part of that debate. Stories of Jesus after his resurrection get moved back in time to before his crucifixion in order to argue that Jesus really was divine from birth.

In some ways I find this notion comforting. It says there was a variety of beliefs about Jesus and who he was and what his mission was amongst the first Christians. And that in turn makes the kerfuffle of ideas in a typical Quaker meeting okay.

In another sense that doesn’t help me much. Because I don’t have the experiences of the first Christians. I only have my own. And that includes a bible with stories in the order that the first Christians gave to me. I can only work with what I got and not what I don’t got.

As I mention in my earlier posting on the loaves — it seems important to all the gospels that stories about miracles on stormy waters be sandwiched with miracles about creating food for hungry people. Miracles happen in the act of sharing. And if we carry them into the storms of this life we will weather them — for the one we follow walks above the waves.

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6 responses

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  2. I could be totally wrong about this, so please everyone forgive me and don’t think (too much) that I’m trying to push my pov on you 🙂 … it seems that many scholars put a great deal of effort into rationalizing the miracles out of being, well, miracles. I see in myself a serious need to have the miracles be true miracles and Jesus be God, so I try to take my bias into account when reading this stuff. But there seems to also be a need on the part of some to delete the supernatural aspect from the gospels through metaphor, etc … I don’t know which view is correct, but maybe as Freud once said – sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  3. There is a bias in scholarship towards “being scienfific” — and especially in the interpretive disciplines like social sciences and biblical interpretation — if you cna look scientific then you look better. It really is quite silly.One fruit of this is taht miracles need to be explained or ignored. Science really doesn’t have a whole lot to say about unique events — science is about how consequnce x is caused by precedent y — but miracles come from somewhere else and don’t repeat themselves.In the case of the theory I mentioned above its not so much the miracles themselves taht are the trouble. It seems okay for Jesus to work miracles after he’s dead but not before!But yes, it can really get silly.

  4. I don’t think the bias is towards “being scienfific”, but being true to the evidence you’ve been given. What “I got” today is very different from what I got when I was 9. I find my faith, ‘bias’, whatever you want to call it, changing from day to day and new experiences cause growth and change– hopefully for the better.That’s the beauty of science- that it’s always willing to amend its theory as new evidence comes to light.Scientists understood that the earth is flat a long time before the Church was able to stop killing people who believed that.Actually my bias is against the religious establishment per se.

  5. David, I’ve heard that theory as well and it makes sense given that the disciples clearly don’t understand so much of what Jesus said. Its even stated that they didn’t understand certain things until after the resurrection (destroy this temple…)I accept the creeds because its never posed a problem for me, but I can certainly understand why others don’t. I fully accept that the creeds may be wrong and really only set forth one possible way of understanding the life of Christ.”stories about miracles on stormy waters [are] sandwiched with miracles about creating food for hungry people” — a pun! I love it!I’m with Crystal in the concern that the miracles often seem to be rationalized out of being supernatural and are made to seem more like parables. However, its also important to me to understand the spiritual import of the miracles, otherwise I might simply be like “cool miracle” and leave it at that, missing the application it has for me in my life.

  6. Science or miracle?Miracle or parable?Faith or experience?Bias or application?Is it silly or is it a cigar?I say it’s wonderful. How rich this text is to have all of us wondering about it so much, for so many years!

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