Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Lucan Omission of “Jesus walking on the sea” epiphany

The significance of the Lucan Omission of “Jesus walking on the sea” epiphany has not been properly understood. The scholarship to date with noted exceptions has treated the omission as some kind of authorial or scribal inadvertence. This article presents the rationale for understanding the Lucan Omission as an intentional omission based upon Luke’s perceived theology. Consequently it is necessary to investigate and understand what purpose the sea walking epiphany/rescue plays in the gospels.

The miracle of Jesus walking on the sea is an epiphany and thus is fundamentally different from the other types of gospel miracles performed by the Lucan Jesus such as healing, exorcisms, feeding stories etc. The essential characteristic of an epiphany is that it reveals some aspect of God’s salvific dealings with his people.

The sea rescue epiphany represents a unique revelation of Jesus’ person. The sea walking power demonstrates that Jesus has the total absolute divine power necessary for the complete fulfillment of God’s salvific will toward his people. The motif of Jesus walking on the sea has two mutually related aspects: Jesus divinely dominates the sea by walking it (Job 9:8); Jesus crosses the sea by walking on it. In the epiphanic action of Jesus walking on the sea, an action of Yahweh, rarely seen by men is made visible to the disciples. In the 77th Psalm, although Yahweh makes a way in the sea "yet his footprints were unseen" Ps. 77:19. And in the context Yahweh walking on the sea in Job 9:8, it is stated in 9:11 "he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him."

Two further examples of divine dominance over the sea are found in Isaiah. Isa. 51:10 states: "Was it not thou that didst dry up the sea, the waters of the great deep; that didst make the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?” Isa. 43:16 states: “Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters.” These verses also have the Exodus motifs of divine deliverance from the distress of an uncrossable sea.

Since the "Isaianic New Exodus" theme is found in the writings of Luke, it is noteworthy that Luke does not include the sea walking epiphany in his gospel. The divine power Jesus manifested in walking on the sea is re-echoed in his words in Matt. 28:18: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." However the Lucan Jesus makes no such claim.

It is remarkable that the Lucan Jesus does not walk on water. However as previously noted Luke is not adverse to epiphanies since Luke includes several angelophanies and one resurrectional christophany. Thus it cannot be argued that Luke objects to the inclusion of an epiphanic intervention in his gospel.

While Luke does not object to the inclusion of epiphanic intervention, he or his intended audience objects to equating Jesus with Yahweh.

copyrighted 2005


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