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The Specter of Exile in the Story of Jonah

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

Focusing particularly on elements of spatial setting in the narrative, this essay explores the ways in which memories of exile haunt the story of Jonah. While Jonah is not a book about exile, the traumatic experience of expatriation and captivity casts a spectral shadow across Jonah's narrative. At the same time, intimations of God's openness towards Israel's enemies—even those ultimately responsible for the violent deportation from the land—reflect a strand of Jewish discourse with a markedly positive view of the nations. Violent nationalism, either that of Israel or that of its oppressors, is not allowed the final word in Jonah, in spite of the frightening reality of exile that serves as the subtext for both Jonah and much of the biblical literature.

Affiliations: 1: Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA 91182, USA;, Email:


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