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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Jesus' way of seeing ... Mark 6:48a

48 καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτοὺς βασανιζομένους ἐν τῷ ἐλαύνειν, ἦν γὰρ ὁ ἄνεμος ἐναντίος αὐτοῖς, περὶ τετάρτην φυλακὴν τῆς νυκτὸς ἔρχεται πρὸς αὐτοὺς περιπατῶν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης καὶ ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν αὐτούς.

And seeing that they were being battered by contrary winds and making no progress ...

Mark makes swift transitions between the natural and supernatural without any indication that in his worldview there was any sharp distinction. Reading the gospels from within the modern framework these juxtapositions of the natural and supernatural are somewhat jarring. The hand full of modern commentaries I looked at spanning the last 150 years all attempted to find a natural explanation for Jesus' ability to see the disciples struggling in the boat against the contrary winds and the waves. This is a distortion of the story imposed by the modern worldview. Jesus my have had perfect natural vision but that would not explain his ability to see the disciples struggling in the boat. This had to be the same sort of seeing Jesus employed seeing Nathanael under the fig tree.

John 1:48 λέγει αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· πόθεν με γινώσκεις; ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· πρὸ τοῦ σε Φίλιππον φωνῆσαι ὄντα ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν εἶδόν σε.

Nathanael said to him,  “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him,  “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

I have lived by large bodies of water all of my life. I've experience strong winds and storms viewed from every conceivable vantage point. Visibility at night in a strong wind even from a high point even with a full Moon would be limited to very large or lighted vessels. I suspect that the boat in this story was not lighted. Mark does not tell us how Jesus walked on the water and he does not tell us how Jesus saw the disciples struggling in the boat. From Marks cultural framework, these questions were not important.


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