OT miracles

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In light of the discussion of evolution and special creation, many have expressed a hesitation in believing in a God of miracles. Everything must be explained through natural causes. I would like to hear from David Palm especially about this. I was told that the parting of the Red Sea the way I have always understood it to be is wrong (certainly not scholarly in the eyes of wise men).. I was told that it wasn't the Red Sea, but the Sea of Reeds or something, and that the sea parted after strong all night winds. This is different than the Egyptians in close pursuit of Moses and a miraculous instant parting of the sea when Moses lifted his staff. And the death of the Egyptians as they also tried to cross when the walls of water came down. What is this Sea of Reeds? Is it a shallow part where the winds of nature ordinarily dry up land? Is this just another miracle that learned people full with their own knowledge cannot believe? As a Catholic does the church say we have to explain everything from reason and never set God above nature? Do we not believe in the burning bush either? What about Noah and the flood? I am very concerned about this and wonder if God wants us not to believe in His power.

-- Pamela (Rosylace@aol.com), February 02, 2000


Here is a question to, and answer from, an eminent Catholic historian, the founder of the (genuinely Catholic) Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia.

Parting of the Red Sea -- Question from Faithful on 12-28-1999:
"Our parish just started a bible class. None of our priests have attended yet. A class member brought up that the Red Sea is not where the Isrealites crossed but rather at the Sea of Reeds. The Sea of Reeds would get very low tides and you could cross it. It was so muddy however that the chariots and horses got stuck. What do you know about this. Also, is it a sin for a Catholic or any Christian to turn the Bible meanings around? Or only to believe in somethings in the Bible?? Prayerfully, Faithful"

Answer by Warren H. Carroll, Ph.D on 12-29-1999:
"I have heard of this theory to explain the parting of the Red Sea. It is possible, though unlikely. God can use natural events to achieve his purposes as well as supernatural miracles. To deliberately distort the clear meaning of Scripture passages as part of an ideological agenda is, I would say, a serious sin. But many people who do this are simply going along with academic fashion without really thinking about what they are doing. The Bible is a fine, reliable historical source, but we should also use other historical sources to get the complete picture, as I try particularly to do in the first volume of my history of Christendomn."

God bless you, Pamela. JFG

-- J. F. Gecik (jgecik@desc.dla.mil), February 02, 2000.


I agree completely with Dr. Carroll (pray for him, by the say; he had a nasty stroke about two months ago). Often Bible scholars get embarrassed about their Christian faith and may even experience a partial or complete loss of supernatural faith. Or in fact they may not be people of faith to begin with, even though their field of study is literature others consider to be sacred Scripture. The supernatural is ruled out of bounds before the inquiry even starts. So, as you put it, there has to be a natural explanation for everything since by definition miracles cannot happen.

It is this presupposition itself that needs to be challenged. A good place to start would be C.S. Lewis' book Miracles. There is absolutely nothing unreasonable about the miracles; it is highly unreasonable to simply assert that they cannot happen without any philosophical argumentation.

When I attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a place where the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scriptures is boldly held with no apologies by a faculty of international-class biblical scholars, the question that was drummed into us always was, "What is the evidence?" Is there any evidence that the author of Exodus intended his audience to understand him to be describing anything other than a miraculous parting of the Red Sea? No? Well then either boldly embrace it as a miracle or boldly reject it as fantasy but none of this shilly-shallying with bogus fabrications like the "Reed Sea."

Another text that gets this kind of foolish treatment at the hands of embarrassed modernist "Christians" is the feeding of the five thousand. Have you ever heard the spin on this that the "real miracle" was that the people had stashed food in their clothing and then shared it with each other? What a bunch of absolute, unadulterated hogwash! There is not a particle of evidence (again, the central question, what is the evidence?) in the text that this is what the author intended. Again, either embrace the text as portraying a genuine miracle or dismiss it as silly fantasy, but don't try to foist this nonsense on devout Christians.

Alas, too many of our present generation of priests had their formation during the silly-70s when this sort of nonsense was all the vogue. But thanks be to God, this stuff is definitely running its course; the priests now being ordained and those in seminary are much more orthodox than their predecessors. I am hopeful that in thirty years or so modernism will be pretty much an unhappy memory, not a present reality. For this let us all fast, pray, and work.

-- David Palm (djpalm64@yahoo.com), February 02, 2000.

That "Reed Sea" explanation has been making the rounds for years I guess. First heard it from my mother years ago -- she picked it up in a Catholic seminar apparently. When she told me that the Israelites crossed over the sea after the winds had blown the water level to a mere few inches in depth, I laughed and said, "Well then the real miracle was that God managed to drown the entire Egyptian army in a few inches of water."

Our entire faith is based in miracles -- the Incarnation and the Resurrection being chief among them. Without miracles, our faith would be a hollow lie. Jesus Himself validated the miracles in the Old Testament as being true and launched into the greatest display of miracles the world has ever witnessed in the three years of His ministry. So for those who wish to explain away the miraculous, they must deal with Jesus. Bottom line is they consider Jesus to be a liar and that's way too dangerous ground for anyone of faith to stand on. Sounds like wolves in sheep clothing to me.

-- David Bowerman (dbowerman@blazenet.net), February 02, 2000.

just curious: who was the Pharao who drowned in the Red Sea? If somone knows, then we can date the Exodus.


-- Enrique Ortiz (eaortiz@yahoo.com), February 03, 2000.


Welcome back and ROFL!!!!!


This is one of the difficulties of the Red Sea incident. So far there is no inscriptional or archaelogical evidence that the entire Egyptian army was ever destroyed in the Red Sea. So that is a sticky spot for those who take the biblical text at face value (which, again I reemphasize, I do). An evangelical Protestant scholar, John Warwick Montgomery, was trying to collect money some years ago for an underwater expedition to try to find the vestiges [sp?] of Pharoah's army at the bottom of the Red Sea but I don't know what came of it. I suspect the Israelis would not cotton to a bunch of Evangelicals tooling around in submarines in their inland sea.

-- David Palm (djpalm64@yahoo.com), February 03, 2000.

Dear Enrique,

I think there is some debate as to the year of the exodus and the pharaoh involved. Traditionally, the year has been placed at 1446 BC and the pharaoh as Amunhotep II based on the reference in 1 Kings 6:1 which states that the exodus took place 480 years before "the fourth year of Solomon's reign" which was 966 BC.

There are some arguments that say the exodus occurred in 1290 BC under Rameses II as well, but I'm not sure how much credence this theory is given.

Hope that helps.


P.S. to David Palm, thanks for the welcome back!

-- David Bowerman (dbowerman@blazenet.net), February 03, 2000.


You wrote, "I am very concerned about this and wonder if God wants us not to believe in His power."

Here's a scripture verse that I think addresses that issue pretty directly.

1 COR 2:4-5 "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.".

I think this clearly tells us that God very much wants us to believe in both His ability and desire to intervene in our affairs with miracles, signs and wonders.

I always remember that even Jesus was inhibited from performing many miracles in His hometown because of their lack of faith in Him (Matt 13:53-58). I think that speaks alot about our condition today.

Hope this helps.


-- David Bowerman (dbowerman@blazenet.net), February 03, 2000.

Thank you very much, David, for your answer, but I still have a doubt: is there any historical evidence that either Amenhotep II or Ramases II died by drowning?


-- Enrique Ortiz (eaortiz@yahoo.com), February 06, 2000.

You're welcome Enrique. With regard to locating a historic validation of the drowning of a pharaoh, I'm not so sure the Eqyptians would have been so anxious to record such a humiliating event. Afterall, they lost their king and the best of their fighting men (600 chariots) to a bunch of unarmed slaves -- not something you want to brag about. Also, I may be wrong, but I believe that the Eqyptians were not big on written history. What we know of them is primarily through inspirations on rock such as the pyramids.

-- David Bowerman (dbowerman@blazenet.net), February 06, 2000.

. . . ahhh . . . that's inscriptions on rock, not inspirations. sorry.

-- David Bowerman (dbowerman@blazenet.net), February 06, 2000.

You're right, of course, David. The silence here is not necessarily very significant, since usually it's great military victories that are recorded for posterity. I was just pointing out that the only historical evidence we have for the event is the Bible itself.

-- David Palm (djpalm64@yahoo.com), February 06, 2000.

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