Jonah’s Rescue: What Are The Implications For Today? (Jonah 1:17–2:10) -- By: Wayne Slusser

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 21:1 (Spring 2017)
Article: Jonah’s Rescue: What Are The Implications For Today? (Jonah 1:17–2:10)
Author: Wayne Slusser

Jonah’s Rescue:
What Are The Implications For Today?
(Jonah 1:17–2:10)

Wayne Slusser

Assistant Dean
Professor of New Testament
Baptist Bible Seminary
South Abington Twp., Pennsylvania

Part One: Introduction

The book of Jonah is a straightforward narrative. The central piece of the story, however, could be the poetry of Jonah’s prayer in chapter two. The nature of the book is unlike any of the other prophetic books found in the Old Testament (hereafter, OT). It is more of an account of Jonah’s experiences rather than a collection of prophetic messages. But what is it about this book that evangelicals seek to critique and defend its historicity (historical analysis), offer different structural layouts (structural analysis), raise alternative interpretations (theological analysis), and propose various genre classifications (literary analysis)? Typically, what is at the center of the majority of these arguments is Jonah’s psalm found in chapter 2; thus an examination of Jonah 1:17–2:10 is all the more important.

The purpose of this article is to examine Jonah’s prayer. There are four sections to the article. Part one deals with the introductory issues: history, literary, theology, and genre. Part two discusses the identification of the prayer; that is, should it be classified as a lament psalm or declarative praise psalm? The psalm’s identification is crucial. Due to its interpretive implications and therefore significant present-day application, part three analyzes the psalm’s role within the context of the whole book. Is the psalm out of place? An exegetical and contextual analysis is also presented. Part four provides the significance of the psalm for today.

It is important to discuss these introductory issues, though not exhaustively, in order to provide a proper background for the study of Jonah 2. Different views and perspectives are presented; however, the writer of this paper offers a traditional, conservative position regarding the historical, structural, theological, and literary issues surrounding this psalm.

Historical Analysis

Traditionally, the book of Jonah has been understood as a historical account of episodes found in the life of a prophet. Some modern scholars, however, reject the historicity of the book and understand the book as legendary, allegorical, or parabolic.1 Feinberg claims that modern scholars are in disbelief and have attacked this book probably more than any other in th...

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