Weekly Reflection: Jonah

Jonah is the 5th book of the Minor Prophets and is deemed to have been written in 450BC. There is some dispute as to its genre.

Reasons for it being Historical

  • Jonah is a known established prophet from the book of Kings in the 8th century.
  • Historic precedent of a whaler being recovered alive a few days after being swallowed by a whale. His skin had been bleached by digestive juices. This could show a possible reason for Jonah to be so sensitive to the sun and that perhaps the leaders of Nineveh thought Jonah was a ghost of sorts coming to warn them from the underground.
  • The book seems to be an historical narrative from a cursory reading.

Reasons against it being historical

  • How would Jonah know what the sailors had prayed and the vows they made after being thrown over board
  • Majority of modern scholars believe the book was written and added to the 12 in 450BC
  • With close analysis the book shows prophetic parallelism
  • Going down into bowels of the boat, then to the depths of the sea.. 3 days in fish… 3 days going through hell in Nineveh… culturally refers to the mythical 3 day trip into Sheol.
  • The book is filled with satire and irony.

Drawing from the Old Testament.

  • There are parallels with Job in this book. Job / Jonah want to die.  God questions Job /Jonah. God wants Job / Jonah to reply.
  • We read how the Babylonians repented under King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Kings
  • Jonahs outburst to God stems from 4:2 Exodus 34:6 in regards to Gods merciful nature, yet he wants God’s mercy for himself and not for others.
  • A thread of Gods sovereignty over all creation runs through Jonah; wind, sea, seaweed, fish, night, cattle, vine, worm, humanity.

Drawing from the New Testament

  • In Pauls shipwreck he tells the sailors to stay with the ship and no lives are lost.He knows God is with them for he is doing God’s will.
  • Jesus is sleeping in the storm while his disciples are panicking…He orders the storm to stop and the disciples are amazed, asking “Who is this?”
  • Jesus refers to Jonah in relation to his resurrection and rebukes the religious leaders in Matt 12:41 and Luke 11:32. The shock of this statement would have been as huge as the Jewish nation would have been reading it.


Jonah knew that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. He didn’t want this for Nineveh and so judged them, avoided them, and was angry at God for showing them mercy.  Jesus warns us not to judge or we too will be judged and therefore Jonah challenges our deeply held thoughts, attitudes and actions towards those whom we consider “THEM” God is asking us through Jonah; are we willing to stop judging “THEM” and go and extend and live within Gods grace and mercy and in doing so cause “THEM” to become “US” living together in a broken world.

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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4 Responses to Weekly Reflection: Jonah


    Best of all, the promise of eternal life is a gift, freely offered to us by God (CCC 1727).

    The Catholic Church teaches what the apostles taught and what the Bible teaches: We are saved by grace alone, but not by faith alone (which is what “Bible Christians” teach; see James. 2:24).

    When we come to God and are justified (that is, enter a right relationship with God), nothing preceding justification, whether faith or good works, earns grace.

    But then God plants his love in our hearts, and we should live out our faith by doing acts of love (Galatians 6:2).

    Even though only God’s grace enables us to love others, these acts of love please him, and he promises to reward them with eternal life (Romans 2:6–7, Galatians 6:6–10).

    Thus good works are meritorious. When we first come to God in faith, we have nothing in our hands to offer him.

    Then he gives us grace to obey his commandments in love, and he rewards us with salvation when we offer these acts of love back to him (Romans 2:6–11, Galatians 6:6–10, Matthew 25:34–40).

    15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

    16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5: 15-16)

    Jesus said it is not enough to have faith in him; we also must obey his commandments. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do the things I command?” (Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21–23, 19:16–21).

    We do not “earn” our salvation through good works (Ephesians 2:8–9, Romans 9:16), but our faith in Christ puts us in a special grace-filled relationship with God so that our obedience and love, combined with our faith, will be rewarded with eternal life (Romans 2:7, Galatians 6:8–9).

    Paul said, “God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work” (Philippians 2:13).

    John explained that “the way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3–4, 3:19–24, 5:3–4).

    Since no gift can be forced on the recipient—gifts always can be rejected—even after we become justified, we can throw away the gift of salvation.

    We throw it away through grave (mortal) sin (John 15:5–6, Romans 11:22–23, 1 Corinthians 15:1–2; CCC 1854–1863). Paul tells us, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

    Read his letters and see how often Paul warned Christians against sin! He would not have felt compelled to do so if their sins could not exclude them from heaven (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Galatians 5:19–21).

    Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that God “will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life for those who seek glory, honour, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness” (Romans 2:6–8).

    Sins are nothing but evil works (CCC 1849–1850). We can avoid sins by habitually performing good works.

    Every saint has known that the best way to keep free from sins is to embrace regular prayer, the sacraments (the Eucharist first of all), and charitable acts.

  2. Craig Benno says:

    I have no idea what your sermonising has to do with what I wrote about Jonah.

  3. T.C. R says:

    I just read Tullian’s Surprised by Grace, which is based on Jonah. In passing, he says the believes Jonah to be a historical book. But of course offers not much in terms of scholar data.

    For some reason, I don’t put a lot of stock in majority of modern scholars when it comes to the authorship of the biblical documents (maybe this is a weakness on my part).

    Neither do I see the literary features as discounting the historicity of the Jonah. At first glance, this appears to be a rather weak argument.

    Besides, we may go on citing parallels from Genesis to Revelation. More homilectical than exegetical. I await your response. 😉

    • Craig Benno says:

      There is a lot to chew on from the book.. I was a firm believer in its historical foundation, but now am leaning towards the other way… either way the message of Jonah is still the same.

      3.) things really swung me..
      1.) The parallelism throughout the book makes it different to any other narrative historical book…
      2.) The cultural and mythical referrals to going down to the underworld…
      3.) The shock value of God sending a prophet to another nation… who gasp; horror, repents. The same shock value would have been the same as the story of the prodigal son which Jesus told… there is no indication to say this story was a historical story either.

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