From: george murphy (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Sep 18 2002 - 11:51:23 EDT
Walter Hicks wrote:
> Robert Schneider wrote:
> > Ian in his note below interprets Jesus in Matt. 5:17, 18 as referring
> to the
> > "inerrancy" of the scriptures or the law. I think rather that Jesus
> > referring to "fulfillment" rather than "inerrancy." He also writes
> > "Christ re-affirmed OT stories (Jonah in Mt. 12:38-40)" and adds "Were
> > Christ's references to Jonah and the flood simply his misunderstanding
> > the scriptures? Did He really believe that Jonah was swallowed by a
> > fish?" Reading this passage from Matthew I see no reason to conclude
> > necessarily that Christ thought that the story of Jonah was a
> > fact. One could make a good case that Christ, being a teller of
> > himself, recognized that the story of Jonah is an extended parable,
> for the
> > lesson which Christ draws from the story of Jonah is the lesson of
> > parable: repentance. That is one "sign of Jonah" Christ clearly
> refers to.
> > Another is his using the allusion of Jonah in the fish three days and
> > as an allegory for his forthcoming death and resurrection; the former
> > is wrapped around the latter..
> I have seen it posted many times that Jonah was an allegory or Parable,
> than a historical event. Now I can understand why that may be said for
> that seem to be invalidated by scientific research (such as global
> However, I see no reason for rejecting Jonah as a historical event,
> other than a
> bias against "miraculous" type events events in the Old Testament. Is
> there any
> scientific data to reject this as an actual happening?
It depends on what you mean by "scientific." Ichthyologists &
cetologists can provide information on whether or not there are any known sea
creatures for which the story of Jonah & the fish would be possible but that
would settle nothing since one can always say that God "provided" a
But the fish episode is really a minor part of Jonah, simply a way of
getting Jonah from point A to point B. Questions are raised about the
historicity of the book on other grounds. E.g.:
The well-known site of the city of Nineveh was not "three days
journey in breadth" (3:3).
"The king of Nineveh" is a title equivalent to "The president of
Washington." The king who might have been resident in Nineveh would have
been "the king of Assyria."
There is no historical evidence for a mass conversion of the whole
city of Nineveh in the time of historical prophet Jonah (II Kg.14:25), somke
time around 765 B.C.
The prayer of Jonah in Chapter 2 makes no reference to his being "in
the belly of the fish" but seems to be that of a man threatened with drowning
There are obvious exaggerations. I already mentioned the size of
Nineveh. Jonah's "sermon" in 3:4 is 5 words in Hebrew - enough to satisfy
the minimum conditions of his commission but hardly enough to convert the
whole city. (& there's no reason to think he said anything more. Since - as
we finally see at the end - Jonah doesn't _want_ the Ninevites to be
converted, it makes sense that he didn't.)
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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