"Great Catch of Fish," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Jonah 1:1-17; 3:1-10 (4:1-11) Commentary
by J. Clinton McCann
The Book of Jonah is simultaneously pathetic and hilarious.
It is pathetic because the character Jonah is so completely unfaithful. It is hilarious, first of all, because the narrator portrays so hyperbolically Jonah's recalcitrance and the repentance of the people of Nineveh. And furthermore, the joke is on Jonah, since God fulfills God's purposes by way of Jonah, even though Jonah remains thoroughly uncooperative to the very end.
That the narrator is up to something artistically clever is evident as soon as Jonah is mentioned. He is identified in 1:1 as "son of Amittai," a name derived from the Hebrew root that means "to be faithful." But, of course, Jonah proves to be anything but a "son of faithfulness." Even so, by the end of chapter 1, Jonah has made a boatload of converts! In sharp contrast to the disobedient prophet, the pagan sailors are models of piety and faithfulness, as they honor God, offer sacrifices, and make vows (verse 16; see Psalm 66:13).
To his credit, Jonah does one thing right in chapter 1 -- that is, he utters an eloquent ...
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The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 053: Jonah
November 11, 2012
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Craig Koester for "I Love to Tell the Story," a weekly conversation on the narrative lectionary. This week's readings are: Jonah 1:1-17; 3:1-10 (4:1-11), and Luke 18:3.