The Miraculous Catch: Reflections on the Research of Mendel Nun

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Since Jesus spent so much time on or near the Sea of Galilee and his disciples were Sea of Galilee fishermen, Mendel Nun’s research is important in illuminating many Gospel stories.* His comprehensive knowledge of ancient fishing on the Sea of Galilee has allowed him to determine the exact time and place of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with disciples: winter on the lake shore at Heptapegon near Capernaum.

Revised: 06-Jan-2013

Since Jesus spent so much time on or near the Sea of Galilee and his disciples were Sea of Galilee fishermen, Mendel Nun’s research is important in illuminating many gospel stories. His comprehensive knowledge of ancient fishing on the Sea of Galilee has allowed him to determine the exact time and place of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with disciples: winter on the lakeshore at Heptapegon near Capernaum.

Nun also has shown that in the story of the miraculous catch (Luke 5:1-11), Peter could only have been using a trammel net or a veranda net, a variation of the trammel net. He could not have been fishing with a seine because it was not used near Ἑπτάπηγον (Heptapegon, seven springs). The floor of the lake in that area of the coast is so rocky that the seine would have continually gotten hung up on the rocks. And it is unlikely that Peter was using a cast net because he was fishing with boat and crew.

According to Nun, fishermen using a trammel net fished at night and stopped their work at dawn because in the light of day the fish could see the netting. Before the fishermen turned in for the day, they carefully washed their nets and hung them to dry. If the linen nets were not dried promptly after use they would rot in a short time. From the gospel account of the miraculous catch we learn that Jesus arrived at the lakeshore while the fishermen were still washing their nets, and immediately got into one of the boats and began to teach. If, as Nun says, the washing of the trammel nets took place shortly after dawn, then Jesus must have begun teaching very early in the morning.[1] Nun’s research makes this text come alive with realistic detail.[2]

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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin
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    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
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