RE: Is Jonah to be taken literally?

From: Joel Z Bandstra (
Date: Mon Aug 13 2001 - 16:40:23 EDT

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    I guess I'm really asking this: How does one decide what biblical accounts
    are historical and what are myth given that we believe scripture to be "God
    breathed" and noting that there are a number of fantastic events related in
    the bible (e.g. walls of Jerico, plagues on egypt, various miracles of
    Christ, etc)? Are we free to consider as myth anything that seems
    impossible? If not, how is the line drawn? By what means do we place
    Jonah on the myth side whilst affirming the historicity of Christ's
    resurrection? Is their any harm in simply believing Jonah to be historical
    narrative (i.e. "I see why you have a difficult time accepting it as such
    but as for me, I believe it to have happened")?

    -----Original Message-----
    From: John W Burgeson []
    Sent: Monday, August 13, 2001 1:02 PM
    Subject: Re: Is Jonah to be taken literally?

    Joel asked: "OK, I'll bite...Why would a literal reading of Jonah cause
    you to reject Christianity?"

    What I said was (I think) is that if "Christianity" insisted on me
    accepting Jonah as a literal, historical story, accurately told, then I'd
    have to reject that particular version of Christianity.

    If Christianity asks me to use Jonah as a myth, parable, or such, and I
    think it does, then I have no problem with that.

    As a literal, historical account, it is simply too far fetched to
    believe. That does not say that there may not have been an interesting
    incident behind the story. But that's about it.

    John Burgeson (Burgy)
           (science/theology, quantum mechanics, baseball, ethics,
            humor, cars, God's intervention into natural causation, etc.)

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