Friday, April 7, 2006

From the "You Have Got to be Kidding Me Files"

Floating Ice May Explain How Jesus Walked on Water, Researchers Say

By Alan CoopermanWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, April 6, 2006; A03

Combining evidence of a cold snap 2,000 years ago with sophisticated mapping of the Sea of Galilee, Israeli and U.S. scientists have come up with a scientific explanation of how Jesus could have walked on water.

Their answer: It was actually floating ice.

The scientists acknowledge that the Sea of Galilee, in what is now northern Israel, has never frozen in modern times. But they say geological core samples suggest that average temperatures were lower in Jesus's day, and that there were at least two protracted cold spells in the region 1,500 to 2,500 years ago.

In addition to chilly weather, their explanation depends on a rare physical property of the Sea of Galilee, known to modern-day Israelis as Lake Kinneret. It is fed by salty springs along its western shore that produce plumes of dense water, thermally isolating areas that could freeze even if the entire lake did not, they assert.

"I don't know whether the story is based on someone seeing Jesus walk on ice," said Doron Nof, an Israel-born professor of oceanography at Florida State University. "All I know is that during that time, a freeze could have happened -- and it could have looked like someone was walking on water, particularly if it rained after the ice formed."

This is not the first time that Nof, 61, has attempted to debunk a biblical miracle. In 1992, he and Nathan Paldor, an atmospheric scientist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, wrote a scientific article proposing that strong winds across the narrow, shallow Gulf of Suez could have lowered the Red Sea by 10 feet, allowing the Israelites to cross to safety and then swallowing up an Egyptian army within a few minutes when the wind stopped, just as the book of Exodus says.

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