Analytic Theology

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Water

March 1st, 2009 by David Kronemyer · 2 Comments

DAVID KRONEMYER: The Bible has various allusions to water. In the Old Testament it is the primordial sea out of which God created the earth. It is what Noah overcame during the great flood. Jonah survived it after he was belched out of the whale. In the New Testament Jesus is a fisher of men. He performed a miracle with loaves and fishes. Several of the disciples were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. The fish was a symbol of the early Christian Church. Baptism is immersion in water.

These references are surprising since the Israelites were not a sea-going people, unlike the Phoenicians immediately to the west or the Greeks across the Mediterranean. The preferred milieu of the Israelites was the desert. The climate of the Levant is predominantly arid. Abandoning the Nile, Moses led his people across the desert for 40 years. Jesus ventured into the desert where Satan tempted him for 40 days and 40 nights.

This antinomy between ocean and desert is suggestive. The ocean is fecund, full of life. The desert on the other hand is barren and desolate. Perhaps the Israelites yearned for water as a normative inversion growing out of their foundational nomadic experience.