A Reluctant Story


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A Reluctant Story
 
Jonah 1:1-3
 
Jonah is a story that accomplishes more than it probably should. Jonah is not a protagonist; he doesn’t fit into Joseph Campbell’s hero framework. Theologian George Landes suggest that “no fewer than sixty-three places in the text where the author’s deliberate or inadvertent withholding of information poses at least some interpretative issue for the reader and, in addition, thirteen places where narrative features create a dissonance in the logic or coherence of the story.”
 
“Even though the story doesn’t fit into a predictable story pattern, we choose no to ignore it. It invades us; it slips through our defenses and seeks to take us captive.
Its discomfort might be by design. Jonah is discomforted. We are discomforted. We are tempted to accuse Jonah of reluctance, but in the end, we are confronted by our own reluctance.
 
Jonah can be dated earlier or later in the Old Testament story. Jonah’s name is mentioned in the Old Testament history books (2 Kings 14:25). Ninevah isn’t a significant city at the time though, nor would they have threatened Israel as a mighty empire. Jonah’s visit there would have been strange. If Jonah visited Ninevah after the Assyrians invaded Israel, his visit has a different significance.
 
Reluctance has many faces: either indifference or bitterness. Nevertheless, God pushes Jonah and seeks to deal with his reluctance.”