Re: Did Peter walk on water?

From: george murphy (
Date: Thu Oct 03 2002 - 12:48:59 EDT

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    Adrian Teo wrote:

    > Hello George,
    > > I don't claim any more than a competent parish pastor's
    > > knowledge of biblical language & would not try to base an argument
    > > here on my own expertise. I do know enough to know what the debates
    > > are about & make sense of the arguments. I gather that you are in
    > > more or less the same situation. For those in this position,
    > > counting - & weighing! - scholarly opinions is necessary if anything
    > > if we are ever to make any judgments, however tentative.
    > > Certainly there are indications of Semitic usage in Mt as
    > > well as other NT writings: Mt's use of "the kingdom of the heavens"
    > > (_basileia tOn ouranOn_ ) is one example. One has to be careful of
    > > "Hebraisms" as evidence for a Hebrew or Aramaic source. It may be
    > > due to the fact that the author is a native Aramaic speaker. If a
    > > German writes in English "I have the book read" it doesn't mean he's
    > > translating from a German document.
    > True. But one must also be careful not to be too hasty in
    >dismissing the claim either.

             Haste isn't the problem here. The question has been
    discussed for a long time. It might have been hasty for someone in
    1910 to say that Newtonian physics had to be abandoned at the
    sub-atomic level. Today it would take overwhelming new evidence to
    convince physicists that they should go back to some repristination
    of Newton.

    > > The traditional belief that the 1st Gospel was
    > > written by the
    > > apostle Matthew is just that - tradition. I think that tradition is
    > > of great value for some purposes - and, in particular, for the
    > > theological interpretation of scripture. But when it comes to
    > > extra-biblical matters of fact I have much less confidence in it. I
    > > was recently told by an Orthodox Christian that Holy Tradition
    > > teaches us that the church of Constantinople was founded by the
    > > Apostle Andrew. I doubt it.
    > The tradition is significant in this case because of the sheer
    >weight of the consensus. Nobody in the first four centuries
    >challenged the authorship of Matthew. All who have written about it
    >ascribe it to the Apostle. Several of these were people who lived
    >within a handful of generations from the time of the Apostles, knew
    >and spoke the languages and lived in the culture. They have to be
    >taken seriously. I realize that Q is very firmly entrenched in
    >modern biblical scholarship, and it has especially been promoted by
    >the Jesus Seminar to support their arguments.

             The Jesus Seminar can be left out of the discussion. Its
    invocation suggests a kind of guilt by association - like arguing
    against Darwinian evolution because Marx & Engels used it. Plenty of
    scholars who have no patience with the sorts of things the Jesus
    Seminar does have accepted the basic idea of Q - e.g., F.F. Bruce.
             There is also the possibility that "the logia in the Hebrew
    speech" which Papias attributed to Matthew could refer to something
    like Q. The normal sense of "logia" would be "sayings", & this would
    fit the Q hypothesis. But this would then make it unlikely that such
    a document would have contained the material about Peter walking on
    the water.

    > I know of an article about to be published in NT Studies that will
    >offer a alternative explanation that also takes into account the
    >testimonies of the church fathers. I think it is a highly plausible
    >one, but at present, I am not at liberty to disclose the arguments
    >nor the author. Look out for it in the following months.


    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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