Walking on Water

Mike Parsons Mike_Parsons at baylor.edu
Wed Nov 3 10:03:56 EST 1999

         Reply to:   RE: [gmark] Re: Walking on Water
Boring, Berger, and Colpe, Hellenistic Commentary to the NT (Abingdon,  list several 'parallels' to the walking on water scene in Mark 6.  In The Third Discourse on Kingship 30 by  Dio Chrystom (40-120CE), Xerxes, king of Persia, has the power to walk on the water, and it is explicitly considered a divine power.  They also cite Isocrates (4th BCE) Panergyricus 88-89; Iambllichus, Life of Pythagoras, 91 attributes this power to Pythagoras.

Though you don't mention it, I have always found curious the little note at the end of 6:48, "he meant to pass them by."  My colleague, David Garland, in his NIV Application Commentary (which I highly recommend for church bible study groups) gives the various options of interpretations and then settles  (on the basis of the LXX parallels with the verb parechomai) on the reading that the phrase when connected to a divinity refers to an epiphany.  Especially relevant are Exod 33:19-34:7 (where the glory of God "passes by" Moses) and 1 Kings 19:11-12 where "the LORD is about to pass by" Elijah."  Garland (263) concludes "that when Jesus wants to pass by his disciples, he wills for them to see his transcendent majesty as a divine being and to give them reassurance." And the response of Jesus, "I am" EGO EIMI (v. 50) of course, also is integral to this epiphany theme.  

Mikeal C. Parsons
Department of Religion
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798
Voice:  254-710-4591
FAX:  254-710-3740

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