Jonah: A False Prophet or a Prophet with a False God?

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Jonah: A False Prophet or a Prophet with a False God?

The Jonah narrative is a story often told to children to emphasize that it is wrong to run from God and there is no way to escape from God. However as adults we see that there is more to the story. There are many ways to interpret the Jonah narrative and the character of Jonah. Readers may even read the story with an anti-Semitic view if they judge solely from their first impressions of Jonah. We see a man who flees, a man who is angry with God, and a man who pouts under a bush and wishes to die. From all this we may conclude that Jonah is selfish. If we read beyond the surface impression and pay careful attention to the narrative and Jonah's words and not just deeds, we see a more spiritual concern in Jonah's heart. He is not concerned about what people think of him but what people think of God.

During Jonah's time, conditions were not very stable. Political, social, and religious disorder reigned in Israel. Syria had recently won a war and taken over Israel. The relationship between Jonah's homeland and Nineveh, the capital of Syria, were strained and bursting with animosity. Israel itself was in a state of turmoil, trying to adjust to the loss of their power and independence (Winard 538).

In his article "Jonah: The Wayward Dove", Richard Stamp charges Jonah with extreme nationalism. "We see a rather obnoxious man who is disobedient to God and seems to be a bigoted nationalist of the worst kind" (Stamp 80). Jonah's frustration with God shows that he would rather see the destruction of more than a hundred and twenty thousand souls than acknowledge that God can be merciful to the foreigners of Nineveh. His anger over God's mercy towards this wicked city is used to ju...

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...aracteristics in all his actions. Jonah is never concerned about what people think of him but what people think of God.

Works Cited

Fretheim, Terence E. The Message of Jonah: A Theological Commentary.Augsburg Publishing House: Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1977

Martin, Hugh D.D. The Prophet Jonah: His Character and Mission to Nineveh. The Banner of Truth Trust: Highgate West Hill, London , 1958.

Myers, Jacob Martin. The Book of Joel; The Book of Amos; The Book of Obadiah; The Book of Jonah. John Knox Press: Richmond, Virginia, 1959.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible: (NRSV)Oxford University Press, 1991.

Seiden, Chaim. "Why does Jonah Want to Die?" Bible Review 15 June 1999: 4.

Stamp, Richard. "Jonah: The Wayward Dove" The Expository Times Vol. 111 Dec.1999:80-82.

Winward, Stephen F. A Guide to the Prophets. John Knox Press: Richmond, Virginia 1969.

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