Saturday, January 27, 2007

Echoes of Jonah in the Jesus Story

Whether or not the Book of Jonah is historically accurate is not the point of this post. The Gospel writers (Matthew and Luke) make it clear that they knew the story and read the story and used it typologically for Jesus (they even put it in Jesus' mouth). But there are a few other interesting connections between Jesus and the story of Jonah that the Gospel writers pick up on:

1. Matthew picks up on the obvious connection: Jesus' death stay is 3 days long, just as Jonah's encapsulation in the gut of the fish in the depths of the sea (what the writer of Jonah equates with Sheol--the place of the dead) was 3 days long.

2. Luke is more subtle and doesn't mention the 3 day parallel: He hints at the 40 day post resurrection account. Both Jonah and Jesus have a 40 day post resurrection occurrence.

3. In the famous Jesus Stills the Storm pericope, all three synoptic writers have Jesus sleeping in the boat just as the storm begins to rage, threatening to drown the disciples. This is an uncanny parallel with the Jonah story: Jonah was sleeping in the boat as the storm began to rage threatening to drown the newfound YHWH fearing sailors.

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