update A large, somewhat rare piece of floating ice in the Sea of Galilee may explain one of the signature events in Christian theology, according to a report from Florida State University.
Doron Nof, a Florida State professor widely known for his studies on ancient lakes, said in a study published this month that cooler climates in what is now Northern Israel combined with the unique environmental chemistry in the body of water (known as Lake Kinneret to Israelis) could have led to the formation of large, floating sheets of ice.
A sheet of ice would have also been unobtrusive from shore, the study adds.
Ice formation in the region is rare. Under normal conditions, ice may only form once every thousand years. But temperatures were lower in the region 2,000 years ago, raising the odds that ice could have formed every 30 to 160 years.
"As natural scientists, we simply explain that unique freezing processes probably happened in that region only a handful of times during the last 12,000 years," Nof said in a statement. "We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account."
Nof also did not address how someone could have surfed on a sheet of ice.
The study appears in the April 2006 Journal of Paleolimnology, a scientific publication that addresses the reconstruction of lake history.
Editor's note: This blog excited such heavy reader feedback that we got the professor on the phone to elaborate. You can listen to the full interview here:
Download mp3 (6.9MB)