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Jonah's Sojourn In The Netherworld

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author sets out to address the central conundrum in the Book of Jonah. Jonah is deployed as "a sign," pre-figuration of the messiah, as in the Christian Gospels. The tone of the midrash, however, is essentially satirical, and the image of the prophet as a messianic figure, like Elijah, is described in highly particularistic terms; both Jonah and Elijah are lauded as prophets who zealously guard the interests of the Israelite nation. The chapter unravels the ironic core that lies coiled at the heart of the biblical story, in order to explain the satirical stance of the midrash. While at first Jonah strikes a maudlin pose, more concerned with his reputation as "false prophet" than the divine mission, he modulates into a heroic figure once he enters the netherworld and discovers his alternative mission.

Keywords: Book of Jonah; Christian Gospel; Elijah; midrash; prophets



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