Re: Is Jonah to be taken literally?

From: Vernon Jenkins (
Date: Tue Aug 14 2001 - 18:58:40 EDT

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    John et al,

    Concerning this issue, it seems highly desirable that all correspondents
    recall the words of the Lord as they are recorded in Mt.12:38-41, viz

    "Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying,
    Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto
    them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there
    shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as
    Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the
    Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The
    men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall
    condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold,
    a greater than Jonas is here."

    The record of Jonah's experiences is part of the Canon of Holy Writ -
    experiences that are here clearly ratified by Jesus himself. Is it
    reasonable to believe that he would offer a _myth_ as the 'sign' of his
    own death and resurrection? The idea, I suggest, is unthinkable - for
    what other of his sayings then come under critical scrutiny?

    Isn't Christendom in a confused enough state already? Why can we not
    accept the words of the Lord at their face value? It appears that many
    are able to accept some miracles, but not others! This appears to be a
    purely arbitrary matter. But perhaps I am missing something. Is there in
    this a logical principle that distinguishes one biblical event from
    another? Perhaps those who believe there is will respond.



    John W Burgeson wrote:
    > Joel wrote: "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")?"
    > To say I have an answer for all that would be really arrogant! All I can
    > say is to look at each one individually and ask, if it is "strange," does
    > it make more sense literally or as a myth.
    > "Is their any harm in simply believing Jonah to be historical narrative?"
    > Yes. Suppose you teach it as such to a young person, who later realizes
    > that it is simply a story. Because of this, that person may decide to
    > reject Christ, thinking that to accept him necessarily means one has to
    > accept Jonah as history also.
    > John Burgeson (Burgy)
    > (science/theology, quantum mechanics, baseball, ethics,
    > humor, cars, God's intervention into natural causation, etc.)

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