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Biblical-theological Reflections

Master of the Sea, Son of God

English: Walk on the water Deutsch: Rettung de...

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Matthew 14:22–33 narrates Jesus’ walking on water. Yet, unlike the parallel accounts in Mark 6:45–52; John 6:15–21, Matt 14:33 reports that the disciples’ conclusion, at the end of this episode, was ἀληθῶς θεοῦ υἱὸς εἶ (truly, you are the son of God). Apparently thinking along the lines similar to Heb 3:5–6, Archelaus, Disputation with Manes, 44 (ANF 6:220), relates this text to Jesus’ superiority to Moses. Perhaps more to the point here, however, is a chaos-versus-creation motif (Boring, “Matthew,” NIB 8, 327) in which Jesus subjects the surrounding disorder (Graves, “Followed by the Sun,” RevExp 99, no. 1 [2002]: 92; Ladd, Theology of the New Testament, rev.ed., 163; Verseput, “The Faith of the Reader,” JSNT 46 [1992]: 14–16; cf. Augustine, Serm., 25.6 [NPNF1 6:338]; Jerome, Epist., 30 [NPNF2 6:45]). He does so, first, by walking on the sea himself and then all the more by causing Peter to do the same (Chrysostom, Hom. Matt., 50.2 [NPNF1 10:311–12]). In this framework, then, if Israel’s God is master of the seas (e.g., Job 9:8; Ps 89:9, 19–37; Hab 3:8, 15; cf. Gen 1:2 [LXX; LSJ, s.v. ἐπιφέρω, §§2–3])—a kind of mastery not otherwise within the realm of human experience—Jesus’ walking on the sea is an eminently good reason for identifying Jesus as θεοῦ υἱός (son of God) and worshiping him as such (see Matt 14:33; Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 6.51 [NPNF2 9:117]; cf. Mark 6:51–52John 6:21; Aristotle, Poetics, 5.6, 6.2).

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About David Stark

Associate Professor

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This site and its content are licensed by J. David Stark under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. The views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person(s) or institution(s).
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