Religion Prof: The Blog of James F. McGrath
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
Eh, that’s cute, but exegetically problematic on a couple of levels. Most obviously and non-controversially, the fish was Jonah’s salvation (from the sea), not his punishment. The prayer in ch. 2 is of the todah (thanksgiving) genre. Less obviously and more controversially, I don’t think Jonah had any particular beef against Assyrians. He just didn’t want to appear to be a “false prophet” when his prediction didn’t “come true.”
I disagree. Jonah provides as the reason why he didn’t want to go to Nineveh at the beginning that he knew Yahweh was a God prone to be merciful and abounding in steadfast love. I take that to be ironic – he didn’t want those attributes of God expressed towards Israel’s enemies, and yet those same attributes of God were the reason he himself was getting away with his attitude and disobedience throughout the story.
Whale sharks are a much better fit for this myth. There have been unconfirmed reports of whale sharks reaching 70 feet but have a confirmed weight of 21.5 tonnes. They inhabit the tropical seas to include the Red Sea And Gulf of Oman. The whale shark has thin vertical bars on its skin alternating with columns of pale yellow spots (stars) over a dark grey background. These patterns of coloration are unique enough that scientists can use them to identify individuals and track their movements.
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