Is Jonah a moral fable?

RublevRublev Shipmate
'When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed His mind about the calamity that He had said He would bring upon them; and He did not do it.

But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, 'O Lord! Is this not what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing' (Jonah 3: 10 - 4: 3).

Is the story of Jonah about the conversion of Ninevah or the conversion of the prophet?

Is the Book of Jonah a moral fable intended to show that the God of Israel is a universal God who is 'gracious and merciful' (Jonah 4: 2) ?

Does it affect our view of scripture whether its genre is myth, moral fable, history, prophecy, gospel, letter or poetry?

Comments

  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Jonah is fable in that it talks about a Big Fish, a big plant, and the whole conversion of Ninevah immediately after Jonah said his piece.

    In answer to the first two of your questions is yes.

    In answer to your last question, my view of Scripture allows for the different literary genres in the Bible. The Bible was written from faith for faith, but it is not inerrant
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Short Story
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    I like the idea of a reluctant prophet who runs away from the Lord and wonder if it is based on Jeremiah 1. Mind you, a number of other prophets are reluctant including Moses and Isaiah. Jonah is the most successful evangelist in the Bible. He announces God's judgement upon Ninevah and the whole city repents. But I think the author is trying to counter the exclusivist voices of Ezra and Nehemiah. They are portrayed as being Jonah who is left reflecting upon Gods question: 'Is it right for you to be angry?'
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    The evolution of humanism in the Persian empire is noteworthy.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Ninevah was the capital of the Assyrian empire. It's the reason that Jonah was sent there - and why he didn't want to go. A bit like being sent out to evangelise ISIS.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Why is that the reason?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited March 2
    It may not be the reason. Perhaps God wanted to challenge the prophet with his own intolerance towards outsiders. And convert him rather than the Ninevites. Certainly the pagan sailors show far more openness towards God than Jonah.

    It's interesting that the classic parables all have the same subtext of receptivity and tolerance. Otherwise there is no true spirituality.

    What do you think Jonah is really about?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Speak, appeal to the other, the oppressor, Trump supporters where they live as one of them. Transcend your group identity.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Transcend your group identity and show tolerance for the other?
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Quite. Love your enemies.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    edited March 8
    Rublev wrote: »
    'When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed His mind about the calamity that He had said He would bring upon them; and He did not do it.

    But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, 'O Lord! Is this not what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. [ And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live. ]' (Jonah 3: 10 - 4: 3).

    Is the story of Jonah about the conversion of Ninevah or the conversion of the prophet?
    Rublev wrote: »
    Perhaps God wanted to challenge the prophet with his own intolerance towards outsiders. And convert him rather than the Ninevites.

    I'd say that it's about the non-conversion of Jonah. At the end of the story Jonah is still the same proud, miserable bigot that he was at the beginning of the tale, someone who would rather die than see the Ninevites not suffering God's wrath. I think most of us know a Jonah or two, people who are smug in their own righteousness and delight in the suffering of sinners. Jonah is a cautionary tale.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Define moral fable.
  • Mark BettsMark Betts Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Rublev wrote: »
    'When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed His mind about the calamity that He had said He would bring upon them; and He did not do it.

    But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, 'O Lord! Is this not what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. [ And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live. ]' (Jonah 3: 10 - 4: 3).

    Is the story of Jonah about the conversion of Ninevah or the conversion of the prophet?
    Rublev wrote: »
    Perhaps God wanted to challenge the prophet with his own intolerance towards outsiders. And convert him rather than the Ninevites.

    I'd say that it's about the non-conversion of Jonah. At the end of the story Jonah is still the same proud, miserable bigot that he was at the beginning of the tale, someone who would rather die than see the Ninevites not suffering God's wrath. I think most of us know a Jonah or two, people who are smug in their own righteousness and delight in the suffering of sinners. Jonah is a cautionary tale.

    The end of chapter 4 is God's charge to Jonah - we are not told how he responded, he could have repented of his attitude. It's one of those open-ended stories - how would you respond?
  • LatchKeyKidLatchKeyKid Shipmate
    Rublev wrote: »

    Is the story of Jonah about the conversion of Ninevah or the conversion of the prophet?

    It's a story about us. "Many a true word's spoken in jest."
  • Golden KeyGolden Key Shipmate
    It's told in a story style. Dunno whether it's fiction or fact.

    A guy recently had his own close call.
    "Whale tries to 'swallow' South African tour operator in feeding frenzy" (Yahoo).

    This is a Bryde's whale that eats larger things than krill:
    They hunt krill, shrimp, crabs, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies amongst other fish, lunging towards large swarms of prey and skimming the water surface for food.

    So, given that it was a group feeding frenzy and the whale was evidently gulping a lot down at once, it *might* have been possible for the whale to swallow the guy.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited March 10
    It wasn't a whale. That swallowed Jonah. It's fiction. All stories are. Like limited liability companies.
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