The book of Jonah is mostly remembered for its oddity—a runaway prophet swallowed by a whale! But there must be more to the book than that. And indeed there is. For one thing, it is a book artfully constructed, with one chapter devoted to a psalm. It is a book that will reward careful reading and meditation.
But more than that, we find, in the drama of Jonah, the charted course not just of this angular prophet but also of Israel’s attitude toward its most despised neighbor in the Mediterranean world. Jonah refuses to answer God’s call to go and proclaim judgement, because he knows God is the kind of God who responds in mercy and grace should the Assyrians repent. Jonah will have no part of it—until he is compelled. And even then he pities himself.
Rosemary Nixon’s book explores the book of Jonah in its own right, and it helps us make the connections with our view of God and His world today. The irony of this prophet’s story is amusing, but it reaches out and touches us where we are today.
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