From: george murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Sep 19 2002 - 17:32:50 EDT
Jay Willingham wrote:
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "John Burgeson"Subject: Re: The Flood Hoax
> > But both Jonah and Job read like literature -- not as history. To hold
> > they are
> > > -- either of them -- actual literal history seems no more likely than if
> > > someone were to tell me to take CINDERELLA as literal history.
> > Burgy, I heartily disagree that the portions of the Bible that read like
> > excellent literature cannot be taken literally. I find far more credence
> > in Job and Jonah's stories than in Cinderella or any of the other
> > fairy tales. Jay
Comparison with Cinderella suggests a serious missing of the
e.g., King Lear instead.
But of course nobody says that Jonah can't be accurate
it's great literature. The reason for such assessment is that there
of the story that indicate in various ways that it is fiction. I take the
liberty to repeat this list from an earlier post of mine.
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), some
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.)
> > I see no theological message in either book that is dependent upon either
> > being literal history.
> > Burgy, without a literal source, the God of both stories is as
> > as a fairy godmother. Jay
I don't know what's meant by "a literal source" but assume
you mean that
the events of the story
must have actually happened in order for what they say about God to be
meaningful. This is manifestly false. The point of Lk.12:16-21 is not lost if
the events in it didn't actually take place.
(& of course many other parables of Jesus could be mentioned. I note this one
because God appears in it directly rather than via some representation like the
father in the story of the prodigal son.)
> > > The basic theological message of Jonah is that God reaches out to those
> > who are "not us."
> > Burgy, that is part of the message. Also key in Jonah is God's
> > sovereignty, the result of ignoring God's directives and God's quickness
> > forgive and restore the repenatent heart.
Of course there are a number of ideas expressed in any
biblical text but
they are not necessarily "the message" of that text. The point of Jonah is
indeed that God cares for, pities, and desires life rather than death for those
who are not of Israel - even the hated enemies of Israel. The whole story has
been constructed to get to the question of the last verse: "And should I not
pity Nineveh?" God grabs hold of your collar and forces you - the
thinks he knows better than God who deserves mercy and who doesn't -
an answer. "Should I not pity Nineveh? Shouldn't I?" The force of this
question ought not be blunted by trying to find other messages in the story.
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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