I have always enjoyed working through the book of Jonah with my Hebrew students. The book is a great introduction to Hebrew grammar, syntax, narrative, and poetry — and it is short enough to translate and discuss in a few weeks. But beyond the heuristic value of translating Jonah for beginning students of Hebrew, the little prophetic book also raises a number of big of interpretive and theological issues that make for great discussions. Jonah is a great example of literary artistry in the service of ideology, a great example of the importance of genre for interpretation, and great example of the significance of the history of interpretation, among other things. Who would have thought that a “big fish” story would have generated such interest! In a number of posts I hope to explore some of these issues.
Here’s the plan for this series: after I provide a post highlighting some resources for the study of Jonah, I will work through the book of Jonah in Hebrew with a series of posts leaving chapter two until the end (as my class is introductory Classical Hebrew, I want to leave the poetry for after the prose). Only after working through the book, will I post on some interpretive issues surrounding the book of Jonah.
So get your fishing rods… we’re about to catch a big fish!