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Salvation Through Judgment And Mercy: The…

Salvation Through Judgment And Mercy: The Gospel According to Jonah…

by Bryan D. Estelle

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I bought the whole series "The Gospel According to the Old Testament," because it is a topic that has fascinated me for the past several years and has become somewhat of a passion. I have read several in the series and this by far was the most disappointing. The author's openness to critical thinking is immediately evident even in his choice of "Hebrew Bible" rather than "Old Testament." Although he concedes (correctly) that the book is set in the 8th century, he does not insist that the events are truly historical. He much prefers as late a date for the writing of the book as he can, before the 3rd century. In fact he casts doubt that the Jonah of 2 Kg 14 and the Jonah in the book are the same man. He claims that "Jonah" represents Israel and "Nineveh" represents Gentiles, but he warns, "be careful" because this line of interpretation can lead to allegorization of the text--he already is there! He strays off on a trail of allegory in several other spots also, especially in regard to the throwing Jonah overboard and the great fish. When one opens the door to "symbolical" interpretation one opens the subjective realm of all the possibilities of a fertile imagination.
There are some areas that he totally misses some very significant elements of the text: ie. the poem of Jonah is almost entirely citations from the Psalms, yet he fails to note that. He rather emphasizes the aspect of great literature.
On the aspect of God's change of mind and the repentance of the Ninevites, he leaves the door open and discusses the possibilities arrived in "Open theism." It is "possible" that God did not know that they would repent? While he rejects most of the conclusions of Open Theists because such an understanding would destroy the the comfort and security for those suffering. He prefers to take the "repentance of God" as "baby talk" so that mere mortals can understand it.
While there is profit in some of his parallelism with Christ through he "typological interpretation," for the most part his presuppositions and critical evaluations negate any inherent value. I felt like I was scrounging in the dump for treasure. ( )
  mjpetersen | Nov 14, 2011 |
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