מִקְרָא Mikra: Biblical studies

Dr Stephen D. Cook (and friends)

Jonah

My PhD thesis was about reading the book of Jonah as satire (“Who knows?” Reading the Book of Jonah as a Satirical Challenge to Theodicy of the Exile), and before that my Honours thesis identified various forms of humour in Jonah. Many of these posts were written while I was exploring humour, parody and satire in Jonah.

  • The Bible in conversation with itself: Jonah versus Amos
    The only reference to the prophet Jonah outside of the book bearing his name is in the book of Kings, with a brief mention regarding a prophecy related to the expansion of Israel’s borders during the reign of Jeroboam II. [Jeroboam II] restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of […]
  • Books with weird endings
    A few biblical books have rather odd endings. For example, having described Israel and Judah’s time in exile the book of Isaiah ends with a series of hopeful post-exilic visions describing the restoration of the nation and a subsequent time of peace and prosperity. The change in the nation’s fortunes are so dramatic they are […]
  • Human sacrifice in the Bible (1)
    In this post, and the next, I plan to look at the handful of cases in the Hebrew Bible which seem to speak positively about human sacrifice, and discuss whether they are positive or not, and then conclude by discussing some theological implications. There is a common belief – an assumption perhaps – that the […]
  • Jonah, Samuel and satire
    I had the honour of presenting a paper to the Fellowship for Biblical Studies in Sydney last week. Due to the coronavirus this was our first online meeting so it created some interesting challenges, and delivering a paper online was a first for me. Unfortunately, I lost my internet connection a couple times during the […]
  • The Sign of Jonah
    The New Testament doesn’t say much about the prophet Jonah, although the little it does say has made him an important figure in Christianity, his time spent inside the fish prefiguring the death and resurrection of Jesus. The only references to Jonah in the New Testament are in a saying by Jesus recorded in both […]
  • Making fun of foreign kings (2)
    Good satire or parody can be hard to detect. The better it is, the more likely it is that someone will take it seriously and won’t get the joke. I well remember when I was a much younger man having a conversation with a good mate about the clichés that were used in church prayers far […]
  • Jonah lecture
    Here is a 40 minute lecture which I gave recently on humour in the Book of Jonah. The powerpoint slides used during the presentation can be downloaded here. Jonah Powerpoint slides
  • Jonah – parody of a prophet (6)
    Conclusion The cluster of unusual features which I’ve mentioned in previous posts suggests that what we have is a clever story which is not meant to be taken literally or even too seriously. The message of the Book of Jonah may be a serious one, but the intended message is not the folk-tale itself but […]
  • Jonah – parody of a prophet? (5)
    Jonah – the most successful prophet There is a comic element to our prophet: he has an inflated perception of his own abilities as a prophet. Jonah fled to Tarshish because he ‘knew’ that that the LORD would ‘repent’ or ‘relent’ of his intention to destroy Nineveh if the people of the city turned from […]
  • Jonah – parody of a prophet? (4)
    Jonah and Jason I mentioned earlier that word play is common in the Book of Jonah, and gave an example from the opening verses where Jonah is commissioned to “rise” and go to Nineveh, but instead he “rises” and goes to Tarshish. A series of descents then commence: Jonah first ‘went down (ירד) to Joppa’ […]
  • Paleo-Hebrew inscription of Jonah and the fish
    Prof. James H. Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary has just announced a rather startling observation regarding an inscription on an ossuary discovered in Jerusalem that appears to be a stick figure of a man and a fish. Charlesworth argues that the stick figure contains four letters in paleo-Hebrew that spell out the name YONAH (Jonah) […]
  • Jonah – parody of a prophet? (3)
    There are several features which help us to identify humour in Biblical texts. One of these features alone may not be sufficient to enable us to positively identify humour, but when they appear in clusters we can be confident that something is going on and the text should not be read as straight narrative or […]
  • Jonah – parody of a prophet? (2)
    The prayer, or psalm, of Jonah in chapter 2 contains some hints that the writer was attempting to clearly identify Jonah as a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel. In verse 4 Jonah prayed “I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.” Later, in verse 7, […]
  • Jonah – parody of a prophet? (1)
    I have an interest in Biblical humour which began by exploring Jesus’ frequent use of humour. I went on to look at whether Jesus use of humour  was typical or atypical of teachers of his time, and I am now investigating whether this first century Jewish humour of Jesus had its roots in the Hebrew […]
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