How do Christians know Jesus walked on water? They read about it in the New Testament in English. However, the English bibles are only a translation from the Greek language.
Mark wrote that after Jesus finished prayer (Mark ), he came down the mountain to find the ship containing his disciples in trouble. Jesus, therefore went to the ship; “he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them (v. 48). But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit.” (v. 49 KJV, in English).
Two questions come to mind.
(1) If Jesus was god, god incarnate/part of a trinity, who was he praying to on the mountain? Was God praying to himself in Mark 6:46?
(2) Jesus saw his disciples in trouble, why would he want to pass by them in verse 48?
Matthew and John copied Mark’s story, but left out Jesus “passed by them.” These unknown authors surely knew it did not make any sense for Jesus to pass by his disciples knowing they were in trouble.
All of this invites two questions.
and Luke cannot agree where the disciples were going. Mark wrote they were going to the other side,
How far did Jesus walk on the water? Did he walk across to the other side of the sea? Matthew and Mark claim that Jesus caught up with the boat in the middle of the sea. John maintains that Jesus made it to the shore since he caught up to the disciples as they were coming "near to the land" (John 6:19-21).
Shmuel Golding in his The Light of Reason, volume 3, says:
“For those who understand the Greek text there is no problem in interpreting this story. John’s gospel records that when the disciples received Jesus into the ship; it was already at the land. They saw Jesus walking, not on the sea, but beside the sea as the Greek word ‘ept’ indicates.
One need not be a scholar to look up a word in a dictionary and in this case ‘epi’ is a preposition, which can mean - in, - on, - alongside, or - beside.” In koine' Greek (common Greek, usually not written but spoken, a type of slang Greek), the term "ep-" usually did refer to "alongside,” since there was a more common slang term used for such.
Choose the most obvious meaning and the story now makes sense. Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him in a ship and arrived by walking around the lake at the same time as them. Their surprise on seeing him caused them to wonder what kind of a man is this who can walk faster than we can row. They probably rowed one length of the boat only to be driven back two, because all the gospels claim there was a great storm at sea. Jesus probably thought it was safer and quicker to walk beside the lake than to go across it in a boat so he walked to the other side on dry land.
Guess what the Christian apologists’ interpreted ‘epi’ to mean – ON. The New International Version (NIV) Study Guide says: “A special display of the majestic presence and power of the transcendent Lord who rules over the sea’ (Mark ).
This is what Strong's Lexicon, a reference much beloved by fundamentalist Christians has to say about the subject. However, you have to remember that Strong's is Christian in origin and accordingly, supports Christian selling points and that it's use is primarily in the Christian community. On page 1909 is says; epi epi ep-ee’ a root; prep AV-on 196, in 120, upon 159, unto 41, to 41, misc. 339; 896
1) upon, on, at, by, before
2) of position, on, at, by, over, against
3) to, over, on, at, across, against
4) toward, beside
Notice, out of 19 adjectives, 9 clearly can mean besides the sea, 4 in red can be interpret either way and 6 can be interpret as walking on the sea.
According to this, you could present the incident of Jesus walking on the water in several different ways. Christians apparently wanted to make Jesus perform another miracle and walking on water was a doozie.
The Greek word ‘epi’ meaning alongside of fits this story. As written, it could be correctly used BOTH ways, depends on which what message you want to present.
"Alongside of" is more logical. However, if you want to make someone magical, you would use "on.”
Since the New Testament was actually written as a story to be sold to non-Jews, a magical person would bring visions of "dancing fairies upon the pond,” something uneducated minds would understand.
This is simply another King James Version interpretation of the Greek to promote their magical, myth of Jesus.
"Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing." - Hypatia of Alexandria (370 - 415 AD)