Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
TRINJ 28:2 (Fall 2007) p. 297
T. A. Perry. The Honeymoon Is Over: Jonah’s Argument With God. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2006. xxxvii + 231 pp. $19.95.
This monograph provides some fresh and stimulating interpretative insights into the book of Jonah. It challenges traditional readings of Jonah on hermeneutical and theological fronts. These challenges end up rejecting a “mercy vis-à-vis justice” reading concerning the place of the Gentiles. Another level of reading is thereby recommended in this work—to view the book as an “erotic dialogue” between God and Jonah, as Perry puts it. He constantly engages with modern and ancient scholarship, and intertextual considerations frame his primary exegetical approach.
Perry’s arguments are divided into four major parts. The preface introduces readers to the main inquiry of the book—why Jonah fled from the presence of God. Perry argues that it is the love relationship between God and Jonah—and not the preconceived interpretive themes such as repentance or punishment, Israel and the Gentiles, the validity of prophecy, and justice or mercy—that matters most throughout this biblical book.
This main argument is then first developed in Parts I and II. Part I analyzes Jonah 1 and 2 and pays attention to Jonah’s descent into the sea, where Jonah and God each win a dialogue, but eventually come to “a draw” in their dialogic match. Part II brings the reader to Jonah 3 and 4 where the dialogue resumes on the dry ground with a metaphor for Jonah’s quest to regain his loving relationship with the Divine. This concludes with Jonah’s unyielding silence and a surprisingly ambivalent declaration from God.
Most interestingly, Part III delves into the book’s four theological premises: love, prayer, repentance, and prophecy. For Perry, these theological poles provide an innovative way for understanding the book of Jonah. The first and the last are most helpful, since they attempt to analyze the love relationship between the human and divine levels, on the basis of prophetic dialogue. In this understanding, God and Jonah continue their negotiation that reflects the other traditionally-cherished (but still-to-be-reevaluated) dimensions such as prayer and repentance.
Part IV encompasses two chapters focused on literary aspects of the book of Jonah—specifically, its pedagogical emphasis and its “fantastic” connotation. The conclusion is followed by four excurses, which cover: the significance of reading the book by itself, the so-called “better-than” sayings, the time motif of the book, and the gender of...
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