This is proving to be a really worthwhile book. It starts out by showing how Jonah is a satirical fable with the purpose of communicating a deep truth. Steven L. McKenzie reveals how numerous elements of the story point to it as fictional. This then sets the book in the larger context of interpreting the genre. At the moment I’m reading the chapter dealing with ancient history, understanding that the original authors’ intent was not to recall actual fact but merely to relate oral tradition in a creative form.
Most of this strikes in the face of the conservative evangelical insistence of the absolute inerrancy of the scriptures. Such doctrine leaves no room for textual criticism, which is an important tool in determining cultural influence. In this viewpoint, the author of the text is simply God’s secretary, dictating his will and purpose. I just can’t see it that way any longer.