Re: Is Jonah to be taken literally?

From: george murphy (
Date: Tue Aug 14 2001 - 23:23:37 EDT

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    "Vandergraaf, Chuck" wrote:

    > George,
    > <snip>
    > No. Another reason for questioning a literal interpretation (which
    > doesn't apply in the case of Jonah) is when we have two ostensible
    > accounts of the same things which don't agree as historical
    > narrative. Gen.1 & 2 or Samuel-Kings & Chronicles are examples. Here
    > we have internal evidence that both accounts aren't straight
    > historical narrative.
    > <snip>
    > True, I overlooked internal apparent inconsistencies.
    > Not to be too picky about wording but "apparent inconsistencies"
    > may suggest to some that they are historical narratives that only
    > appear to be inconsistnt on the surface but that can be made
    > consistent by "harmonizing" - i.e., often by pasting together the two
    > accounts in more or less subtle ways. But in the cases I'm referring
    > to the appearance of inconsistency is to be removed by dropping the
    > assumption that both must be historical narratives.
    > So, maybe we are dealing with a continuum of stories, from allegory
    > toundeniable historical events and, maybe, it's up to us to place each
    > storyalong this continuum. As I've mentioned before, maybe it's just
    > as well
    > <snip>
    > This is becoming quite apparent from the various exchanges. A bit
    > disconcerting to many, to say the least!
    > <snip>
    > Yes, there's a continuum. & one shouldn't try to debunk the
    > historical character of Bible stories for pre-schoolers. But many
    > will start raising questions well before they become geologists &c.
    > As soon as they start asking how the dinosaurs fit into the story or
    > something like that, it's appropriate to start talking about how
    > stories can tell us true things, &c.
    > But, depending what they have been told prior to the stage where they
    > ask questions, this is precisely where the wheels at times part
    > company with the rest of the carriage. Some ask questions and don't
    > like the answer and, consequently, abandon the faith (if this is
    > possible). Others never ask questions, for example, our "Leader of
    > Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition," who has publicly stated that he
    > believes that dinosaurs and man walked the earth at the same time.
            Even while one is allowing young children to think of all the
    Bible stories as things that really happened, one ought to be careful
    not to give the impression that they all must be read in that way.
    & at some point, if some questions aren't raised by the child, the fact
    that truth can be conveyed by stories should be introduced. The fact
    that Jesus did this in his parables is one way of getting at the
            I know that there are denominations in which a person can grow
    to adulthood not only believing that dinosaurs & humans were
    contemporaries but also that it's a crucial part of the faith to believe
    this. It's tempting to ridicule such folks but it's really just sad.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

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