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The Book of Jonah: Foreshadowings of Jesus as the Christ
|Title||The Book of Jonah: Foreshadowings of Jesus as the Christ|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2014|
|Authors||Scott, David Randall|
|Journal||BYU Studies Quarterly|
|Keywords||Jonah (Book); Jonah (Prophet); Symbolism; Typology|
The Old Testament book of Jonah is a remarkable story perhaps best known for the stubbornness of a prophet, the great fish that swallows and then regurgitates Jonah, the conversion of the whole city of Nineveh, and the rapid growth and death of a gourd. But this small book has a much deeper, more powerful message that has been obscured through the ages: that the Messiah would live and die to make salvation available to all humankind. This article outlines the parallels between elements of the book of Jonah and Jesus’s future life, agony, crucifixion, spirit world ministry, and resurrection.
Symbolic incidents in the book of Jonah are revealed in the New Testament as Jesus explicitly referred to “the sign of Jonah” and then fulfilled its typological allusions. Most prominent is the image of Jonah’s three days and three nights “in the whale’s belly” being a sign of Jesus’s three days and three nights “in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40). But there are several additional parallels between Jonah and Jesus. While many scholars, dating back at least to Hugh of St. Cher (d. 1263), have noticed elements in the book of Jonah that parallel events in the life and mission of Jesus, I have not found any modern author who lists all the possible elements that may well foreshadow the life and mission of Christ, although at least half of the items discussed in this article were identified and written about by Early Christian Fathers. It is not my goal to force a parallel between every part of the book of Jonah with something in the life and mission of Christ but rather to point out parallels that appear to have gone unnoticed. All of these foreshadowings—especially those that seem particularly obvious—make Jesus’s statement about the sign of Jonah even more meaningful.
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