Florida scientists have said the 'walk on water' miracle described in Matthew's gospel may have been no more than a spot of ice skating.
In a move certain to enrage the faithful, Professor Doron Nof at Florida State University's Bible belt Tallahassee campus and his co-authors say a combination of unusual atmospheric conditions and warm springs could have frozen parts of the surface of the Sea of Galilee.
Current winter temperatures in the region don't drop below double figures. However, paleoclimatologists reckon the atmosphere was, on average, about seven degrees centigrade cooler when JC made his show-stopping turn.
Nof's apparently sacriligious theory, appearing in the Journal of Paleolimnology, relies on warm saltwater springs that run along the latterday Lake Kinneret's western shore. They say colder freshwater above warm plumes would be prevented from taking part in convection currents that would normally mix it with other water and warm it up.
During a cold snap, Nof's model says that such patches on the surface could become cold enough to freeze.
To a distant observer, the team speculate, anyone standing on the ice could appear to be “walking” on the water.
It's not the first time Nof has courted controversy by explaining away phenomena described in the scriptures. In the early nineties he proposed theories the parting of the Red Sea was caused by unusual winds and current.
Hope his postman gets danger money. ®