Re: Did Peter walk on water?

From: George Murphy (gmurphy@raex.com)
Date: Fri Sep 27 2002 - 17:32:41 EDT

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    Dawsonzhu@aol.com wrote:
    >
    > George Murphy wrote:
    >
    > <<
    > One biblical scholar who has done such work is Robert Gundry, whose
    > _Matthew: A Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art_
    >(Eerdmans, 1982)
    > deals with such questions for the entire gospel. His conclusion about the
    > Petrine part of our text may be worth quoting (p.300);
    >
    > "The several echoes of the story about the earlier storm and the
    > preceding part of the present story, the heavily Matthean diction, the
    > theological motifs characteristic of Matthew, and the possible allusions to
    > the
    > OT make it difficult to resist the conclusion that Matthew did not draw the
    > material in vv 28-31 from tradition, but composed it as a haggadic
    >midrash on
    > discipleship: confessing Jesus as Lord, obeying Jesus' command, being guilty
    > of
    > little faith in persecution, crying out for deliverance, and being
    >recued and
    > rebuked by Jesus."
    > >>
    >
    > Well, I realize that the reading could be different
    > between then and now, and there are cultural things,
    > and symbolic things, and so on and so forth. Undoubtedly this
    >incident does raise impressions of
    > Elijah and Elisha crossing the Jordon. Indeed, in
    > an even bigger way because it was not just the
    > Jordon, but something much bigger.
    >
    > Yet all this said and done, calling the work some
    > sort of "haggadic midrash" renders it little more
    > than an utterly opaque, turgid, tale. Grander themes
    > aside, it was my understanding that the Gospels were
    > intended to appeal to the common folk. Yes Matthew
    > is trying to persuade the Jewish folk, and I'm sure
    > that he felt some obligation to impress the readership with his
    >great knowledge of Jews traditions and so forth. The Jews
    > were certainly familiar with themes of the OT, yet
    > if the NT requires me to read countless horrendously thick tomes
    >with references to countless other thick
    > tomes just to extract some tiny fragment of truth,
    > what is the point? A general familiarity with the
    > OT would already make these themes visible to somewhat
    > lesser folk than the great rabbis of the day.
    >
    > In the end, I would either have to feel that whatever
    > words are used for it, "haggadic midrash" is one step
    > short of the word for "hogwash" as best I can see it.

            Midrash, essentially interpretation of & commentary on a
    text, is a well-known
    form which certainly predates the NT: There are 2 uses of the term
    in II Chronicles
    (13:22 & 24:27) which NIV renders as "annotation". Haggadah is
    interpretation which is
    intended to develop piety & devotion - as distinguished from
    halachah, which is legal
    interpretation.
            To call the story of Peter walking on the water in Mt.14
    "Haggadaic midrash"
    means that Matthew took the story of _Jesus_ walking on the sea and
    based on it the
    story about Peter as a way of speaking about Christian faith &
    discipleship. To reject
    such a possibility as "hogwash" is simply to return to the notion
    that everything in the
    NT must be "history as it really happened", with no theological
    editing at all. Such a
    view is unsupportable.

    > It becomes a useless exercise to try to draw out any
    > truth in something that muddy. I can accept that I've
    > been taken for a fool. I support the Christian faith
    > because I see more in it as an objective, and I suspect
    > our survival as a human race is dependent on our
    > submitting to God and much of Christ's views.
    >
    > However, in the end, if something is really false,
    > we don't simply believe it anyway. If life is
    > mere probablilities, and material is all there is
    > and ever will be, then we are talking a different
    > set of rules. The issue here is whether there is
    > more or not. Where is your faith George? Have
    > you really bowed down to the Great Machine?
    >
    > Maybe I have missed something, and I am the first
    > to confess that I have much to learn still, but
    > either Jesus is much greater than Elijah,
    > or he
    > was just another Rasputin with some fantastic idea
    > that a lot of people got hornswaggle on. Given that
    > it is true that Jesus was greater than Elijah, then
    > I would conclude that whatever the themes and stylistic
    > issues of the scripture are, the apostles were telling
    > the truth. Here then, faith in their honesty, is what each of us
    >is asked to make a decision on. I don't
    > know the answer either George, but I'll walk the road
    > of faith before I listen to this kind of muddle.

            Yes, you've missed a lot. In fact, you've missed the whole point. The
    discussion is about whether _Peter_ walked on the water, not whether
    or not Jesus walked
    on the sea. The implication of the Jesus walking on the sea is that
    he is the one who
    "rules the raging of the sea", who "crushed Rahab of the deep with a
    deadly wound" -
    i.e., the creator of the universe. He's God, but I don't know if
    he's greater than
    Elijah!
            "Have you lost your faith?" My faith is in Jesus Christ as
    the crucified and
    risen God Incarnate, not on the claim that Peter took a couple of
    steps on the surface
    of the Sea of Galilee. Your question is not only insulting but
    theologically inept and
    just plain dumb. & yes, I'm angry, but I'm still choosing my words carefully.

                                                            George

    >
    > by Grace alone we proceed,
    >

    -- 
    George L. Murphy
    gmurphy@raex.com
    http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
    


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