The Book Of Jonah -- By: Francis J. Lamb

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 081:322 (Apr 1924)
Article: The Book Of Jonah
Author: Francis J. Lamb

The Book Of Jonah

Francis J. Lamb

“This is the tragedy of the Book of Jonah, that a book which is made the means of one of the most sublime revelations of truth in the Old Testament should be known to most only for its connection with a whale.”1

IN this quotation, whether intended or not, there is recognized the fact that the Book of Jonah has the unique distinction of being peculiarly honored by Christ because of its “revelations of truth,” and peculiarly scorned by men as destitute of truth. It is not strange that the Book should have been flatly denounced as false by sceptics and atheists from Celsus in the second century all along down to Ingersoll of yesterday. But within late years hostile attacks upon the Book on new grounds have found favor and advocacy from persons prominent in educational work in Christian institutions, as well as in the Christian ministry, including a class that has come to be known as Advanced Higher Critics of the Bible. For brevity we will in this paper designate them by one word, Critics. These newer hostile attacks not only deny the verity of the Book on new grounds, but, in connection with such denials, impugn the integrity and capacity of Jesus. We are persuaded that their hostile attacks cannot stand when subjected to the ordeal of applied science. These attacks are variant in degree of hostility, but it will be found that they are so radically related that examination of either necessarily involves the other. We will, therefore, notice first the lesser. In them opponents contend that:

“The mere statement of the story shows the incongruity which lies in the very nature of the narrative,—‘the essential improbability of the instant heed of an entire people (600,000 or more) to the simple religious message of an unknown visitor from an enemy’s country.’”

Such attack proceeds upon the opponent’s contention,

that the few words of menace spoken by Jonah in the streets of Nineveh were to the Ninevites merely the ipse dixit of a stranger unauthenticated by any credentials emanating from a power able to execute the menace. This contention raises the issue: Did the Ninevites have knowledge or warning that Jonah was the authenticated prophet of Jehovah in crying the message against their city? This is a question of fact to be determined by evidence and the employment of science, and the minuteness, if need be, of the scientific method and means in making the investigation.

The Bible like every written or printed document comes to men purporting to be evidence of its contents. The Books of the Bible as Ancient Documents are Co...

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