Re: Did Peter walk on water?

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Sun Sep 29 2002 - 23:29:37 EDT

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    Hi, it appears to me that you missed the main point of my note. I don't
    know what else to say, so I'll say,


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Walter Hicks" <>
    To: "Robert Schneider" <>
    Cc: <>
    Sent: Sunday, September 29, 2002 5:09 PM
    Subject: Re: Did Peter walk on water?

    > Hi,
    > I brought up this question to the list, because I wanted to see how many
    > call this text "true" and then turn around and say that it never really
    > and is not historical. That is just an opinion poll. However, what you
    have said
    > below goes well beyond that.
    > The difficulty as I see it, is that you have just ruled out any
    possibility of
    > we poor non theologians ever studying the Bible and getting the proper
    > Not only must one study under a scholar, but you imply that only those
    > who agree with you are qualified to interpret the scriptures.
    > I have a number of Bibles with references and Commentaries to assist in
    > study. Frankly, the theological opinions often presented on this
    particular list
    > (like that below) are rarely found in any commentary that I have ---- and
    I get
    > my references from Christian bookstores in liberal Kennedyland. My primary
    > reference for New Testament is the Tyndale Commentaries. It totally
    > with the view that the text we have been discussing is non-historical and
    > not offer any suggestion at all that is a midrash. Yet, if others on this
    > suggest it is historical in nature, we get a lecture about our lack of
    > theological understanding.
    > What is a poor engineer or scientist to do? If ASA is truly a "Big Tent"
    > many members of the Christian Faith may abide, then where would describe
    > relative position of the viewpoint below with respect to the ASA center of
    > gravity (to use some "scientific" lingo ;-)?
    > Do you think that it is in the center or on the far left?
    > Walt
    > Robert Schneider wrote:
    > >
    > > I think that this gospel challenges us to try to put ourselves as
    > > as possible where Matthew's own audience stood if we are to understand
    > > his aim and purposes were, and also who his audience was. In the
    > > introduction to his commentary on Matthew, David Hill writes:
    > >
    > > "Matthew's purpose is to provide a church with a distinctly Jewish
    > > Christian ethos a work from which to teach and preach, which declares
    > > Jesus is Messiah and Son of Man and supremely Lord of the Church, in
    > > relation to whom, in fulfillment of the purposes of Judaism, the
    > > understanding of and attitude to Law, ethics, mission and service must
    > > formed."
    > >
    > > Many Matthew scholars think that the author is "a Jewish Christian who
    > > had at his disposal rabbinic knowledge." Some of these scholars have
    > > the eyes of this Christian who does not have a Jewish background to see
    > > Jewishness of Matthew's gospel. I would not have recognized haggadic
    > > midrashim in Matthew's text without a commentator or someone like George
    > > point them out to me, but I can assume that the audience for whom
    > > wrote his gospel would, at least the Jewish Christians among them, and
    > > they would have responded as they normally would to the teaching that a
    > > midrash conveys. They would recognize, as would many Jews today, things
    > > the stories and episodes in this and other gospels that are likely to
    > > right over us gentiles, living as we do after 2000 years of cultural
    > > and consequently not in the position to understand a lot of what is
    going on
    > > in the gospels without the help of scholars, whose tomes may not be
    > > horrendously thick (or they may, at least, be thick), but which can
    > > enlighten us considerably if we are willing to learn from them, and not
    > > assume, as one of my former students said to me, that all we need to do
    > > read the text "and let the plain truth of the Bible shine through."
    > > he got into my Greek course on the Gospel of John, he learned that the
    > > of that gospel is far more subtle and contains far more than he or
    > > else would be able to discern without a good exegetical commentary.)
    > >
    > > I know some persons both Jews and Christians of Jewish heritage who
    > > able to see many of these things. Clair Lofgren, a colleague of mine in
    > > Episcopal science & religion network and a priest, told me about her
    > > experience of studying the gospels in seminary courses. Thanks to her
    > > Jewish upbringing, often she would see and understand things in the
    > > that Jesus said and did that her fellow Christian students
    > > "No," I would say to their interpretations, "that's not what is going
    > >
    > > This brings me to a quite related point: so many Christians fail to
    > > really understand and appreciate Jesus' Jewishness. The Incarnation
    > > happened in a particular man who, a Jewish rabbi acquaintance of mine
    > > "was a good Jewish boy who said the blessing over the cup [at shabbat
    > > Passover]." And as the mother of Amy-Jill Levine, a Jew and NT scholar,
    > > said, "He was one of us." I have learned a great deal about Jesus'
    > > Jewishness from Geza Vermes and E. P. Sanders, Jewish scholars of the
    > > historical Jesus. Indeed, some Christians grow into adulthood without
    > > ever being pointed out to them that Jesus was a Jew. A good example was
    > > conveyed to me by a former colleague who was teaching a freshman course
    > > included a unit on Christianity. "Jesus was a Jew," he told his class.
    > > "Not only that, he was a rabbi." A student slammed his textbook shut,
    > > "I am not going to sit here and listen to this blasphemy!" and stormed
    > > of the room. After Ed learned what local church the student was
    > > he called the pastor and said, "You have a problem with a member of your
    > > congregation." The pastor met with the student, who came to class the
    > > day and apologized. "I just didn't know," he said. So many do not: We
    > > have accepted the call to ministries of teaching have quite a harvest to
    > > work. Perhaps one fruit of such a labor would be to help reduce the
    > > anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism that tragically still exists among so
    > > Christians.
    > >
    > > I strongly believe that anyone reading Matthew or other biblical
    > > will be able to derive much that would enlighten his mind or "the eyes
    > > his heart" (Eph. 1:18) and bring him the message of salvation to his
    > > benefit; millions have over the centuries. But we all would gain a much
    > > deeper appreciation, and perhaps greater spiritual fruits, if we were
    > > willing to benefit from the work of devoted scholars who can teach us,
    > > example, how to recognize and interpret a midrashic text in a gospel or
    > > epistle.
    > >
    > > Grace and peace,
    > > Bob Schneider
    > --
    > ===================================
    > Walt Hicks <>
    > In any consistent theory, there must
    > exist true but not provable statements.
    > (Godel's Theorem)
    > You can only find the truth with logic
    > If you have already found the truth
    > without it. (G.K. Chesterton)
    > ===================================

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