@JonEricson, "...it seems unlikely that he would have composed such a moving, rich, and poetic prayer while in such a terrible situation."
Why does he run away? Why does he go to sleep during the storm? Why does he not mind getting thrown overboard?
1 hour later…
@Ami Jonah is a tough nut to crack for sure and I probably should make sweeping statements about him or the book named after him.
I intend to answer my question at some point, since I think the text encourages us to look back at the central prayer as the main theme of the book. I think it's a very difficult thing to know if the author intended the story to be taken as historical, but the purpose of the story seems quite clear.
The purpose of the story is to show God's incredible mercy, not just to Israel, but to the entire world. (And Jonah shows in the last chapter a remarkable resistance to that mercy.)
I don't feel strongly one way or the other...if it's historical it's history written in a hyperbolic literary style...which is fine
The book of Jonah ends: "Thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repentest of the evil."
personally, I think the books of Jonah and Nahum are dealing with the rise and fall of Assyria through prophecies on the city of Ninveh which is the capital of Assyria (this would be an example of synecdoche).
and the rise and fall of Assyria is another way of talking about the exile of the ten tribes of Israel during the reign of Hosea the son of Elah in the northern kingdom of Israel and Hezekiah in the Southern kingdom and the return of the ten tribes during the reign of Josiah of the southern kingdom.
I'm in the process of writing a blog post about this...but I've been in the process for the last 3 months or so...
@Ami My mom always complains about how boring the Minor Prophets are when she reads them. It occurs to be the problem we Americans have is that we are not it touch with the background. It would be like trying to read an editorial from 100 years ago from newspaper in a country we've never heard of.
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