What about Jonah and the Whale?
We sat down with Pastor Cory Marquez for an interview, which you can read here, and after that we asked some questions we keep hearing about Jonah and the Whale
Q:Is the story of Jonah and the whale true? LIterally?
The story is true, regardless if it’s literal or not, which I don’t belive it is. The story about Jonah is not a story about a man being in a whale. The story of Jonah is about a man who so hates his enemies that he’s unwilling to go to them to tell them the good news about God’s love. That’s what the real story is, right? So he runs from that. He thinks, “I’m not going to run to my oppressors, God, and tell them about you.” So he runs, gets on a boat, and is captured in a whale. The whole point is he has to die to himself in someway and God rebirths him and he goes to Nineveh and tell them about God, and even then he was begrudging the whole time. It’s a story about loving your enemies even when you don’t want to.
We can miss this if we’re so busy trying to convince people, or even ourselves, that a man was in a gut of a whale, or fish, or whatever. We can miss what the story is actually about.
Q: Does the Bible contradict itself by having a story in there that people think is fact?
Sociology shapes your theology. You grew up in a world where if you read a book it’s either non-fiction or fiction and some we’ve said that the Bible is non-fiction and thus we need it all to be proven. Most of history wouldn’t have read the books of the Bible that way, or told the oral stories that way, they were looking for the truth of it. The truth of it goes beyond the literalism of it. There were not annotated bibliographies till 150 years ago. No one cared before then. That wasn’t the point. The point was what it this story conveying about the truth and about what we care about. That is were the Bible has magic.
The Bible does contradict itself, and that’s why the Bible is beautiful. The Bible has Psalms that say, “I’m so mad at my enemy today, God. Will you take my enemies children and crush their heads on rocks.? ” because we feel that way. It also has verses that say, “love your enemies.” Peter and Paul contradict each other. The Bible is this book that is in travail, and figuring itself out. Why? Because we’re figuring ourselves out. The Bible is an incarnation just as much as Jesus is and we are, and that’s why it is helpful. It’s not helpful if we make it literal. Then you have to prove there is really an ark on Mount Ararat. It’s missing the point. The whale is missing the point. It’s not helpful.