Jonah’s “Big Fish” Story 2: Resources for the Study of the Book of Jonah

There are a number of excellent resources for the study of the book of Jonah. While this post is by no means exhastive, I have tried to highlight the primary resources. Feel free to add your own opinions in the comments.

Hebrew Helps

For those just learning Hebrew, there are a number of aids to help you work through the Hebrew text of the book of Jonah (For more general Hebrew aids, please see my “Mastering Biblical Hebrew” pages). There are three resources that facilitate the rapid reading of biblical texts (I have included links to PDF excerpts with the book of Jonah as examples).

The Old Testament Parsing Guide parses and provides an English gloss for every verb in order of their occurrence in the biblical text, while A Reader’s Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament provides an English gloss (from BDB) for words that occur less than fifty times in sequence of chapter and verse. The most comprehensive work of this kind is the Analytical Key to the Old Testament. This four volume work parses, translates, and provides a cross-reference to BDB for all forms (verbs, nouns, particles, etc.) as they occur in the biblical text.

Another handy aid for translating the book of Jonah is

  • Norm Mundhenk, Eugene A. Nida, Brynmor F. Price, A Handbook on the Books of Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah (UBS Helps for Translators; United Bible Societies, 1993). Buy from | Buy from


Jonah-Sasson.jpgThere are many excellent commentaries on the book of Jonah. These are written from a variety of different theological and ideological perspectives for audiences of different levels (for a discussion of the theological perspective and intended audience of some of the main series, see here).

Jonah-Allen.jpgThe critical commentaries by Limburg, Sasson, and Simon, and Wolff all have their strengths, though if you had to only choose one I would highly recommend Sasson. I have worked through Sasson again and have come to appreciate his careful eye for detail as well as his sober exegetical judgment. In addition, his commentary is a wealth of information of how Jonah “Big Fish” story grew with its retelling. Limburg is good, albeit brief.

There are a number of good comentaries that are based on sound scholarship yet offer theological depth and insight. These would include Achtemeier, Allen, Bruckner, Roop, Stuart, and Trible. My pick for top pastoral commentary, however, is Allen’s work in NICOT, primarily for his balancing of scholarship and theological reflection. In this regard, Trible is a close runner-up. Good commentaries for a popular audience include Bruckner, Baker et al, and Nixon.

(See my “Old Testament Commentary Survey” for more information on these and other commentaries).


There are many interesting monographs on the book of Jonah. Most of these are more academic, though Trible‘s work is an accessible guide to rhetorical criticism that uses the book of Jonah as an extended example. On a more scholarly level, I recommend all of the other works. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the work of fellow Edmontonian, Ehud Ben Zvi. His collection of essays is well worth a read.

Next in the series, we’ll look at Jonah chapter 1. Stay tuned.

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4 Responses to Jonah’s “Big Fish” Story 2: Resources for the Study of the Book of Jonah

  1. Tim Bulkeley says:

    There’s also my brief notes, focusing mostly on the narrative features. See

  2. Pingback: Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot » Blog Archive » Jonah’s “Big Fishâ€? Story 3: Jonah and the Sailors (1:1-16)

  3. Bernadine Cantrell says:

    I am looking for an idea of what the “big fish” that God prepared and appointed for Jonah. Can you help me?

  4. Great post. The biblical blogosphere needs more of these kinds of insightful and useful reviews.

    I just found your blog while I was doing some random Google searches. I am starting some exegetical work on Jonah, and I’ll be doing a little blogging as I go along.

    Thanks again. I appreciate your blog, and I will make it a point to be hanging around here!

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