Proof Of The Historical Truth Of The Book Of Jonah -- By: Francis Woodgate Mozley
BSac 81:322 (April 1924) p. 170
Proof Of The Historical Truth Of The Book Of Jonah
Enquiry into the historical value of the Book of Jonah implies enquiry into its literal truth,—how far is it a record of solid fact as opposed to allegory or edifying fiction.
In considering this question, one point, the story of the Fish, stands out in such importance that our attitude to it must be defined before going further. If such a fact were stated in any ordinary history, no one would think twice before putting it aside as fabulous. So we do with the story of Arion and the Dolphin, unless hunting for some hidden meaning. The acceptance, on the other hand, by ordinary Christians of the literal truth of Jonah’s story, has rested on the belief that God was almighty, and the Scriptures what our Lord, his Apostles, and the Church have regarded them, true, shown more particularly in this case by our Lord’s explicit use of the story. The historical truth and the absolute authority of the Bible are no longer accepted by a mass of Christian scholars, and with the less highly educated in this country the rejection of them generally means also the rejection of the Christian religion as having a claim on their faith and obedience.
A great matter like this cannot be dealt with in the by-argument of an essay. But as the answer to the question propounded for our subject is made here to rest ultimately on Christ’s acceptance of the story, the position taken must be indicated.
The change of view with regard to Scripture is no doubt connected with the repudiation of authority in every department, the breaking asunder of the bonds of it, and the casting away of all its hampering cords. But it has been actually brought about by the belief that Bible statements are contradicted by modern discoveries. Difficulties have always been recognized, but they have
BSac 81:322 (April 1924) p. 171
multiplied so greatly as to overwhelm; and it is represented as the only scientific, indeed the only truthful course, to cut the knot. But a scientific course is not always the truthful one. If we are quite clear as to two facts which seem inconsistent, the thing to do, is not to reject one of them, but to own that we do not know how to reconcile them. The truth of Scripture was not believed from an induction of its statements, much less the authority of Christ owned only from an independent examination of what he says. We have to stake the whole of this life, not to mention the next, on the belief in his words, for that is inseparable from belief in himself, and there are many other of his words which seem counter to experience or to history, by no means only those which deal with the Old Testament. We must not exaggerate the amount of what...
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