Our Priest says that the Book of Jonah is fiction?

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Our Priest says the Book of Jonah is Fiction. Not only has he said it from the pulpit, a recent homily of his was published in our Catholic Newspaper when he puts the same comments in print. In past letters to the editor he has had published he admits he doesn't believe there was a star of Bethlehem that lead the Kings and Wisemen to the place where Jesus was born and implies the reader should not believe. My question is: what doctrine is he teaching or trying to impress on us listeners and readers? He is a persuasive speaker and writer and I fully expect he has convinced others of his views on these and other issues. In this same article I first mentioned, he quotes and supports another writer's view to words something of this effect, Why should we expect the bread to turn into the Body of Christ unless we can also expect ourselves to turn into the Body of Christ, or words to that effect. I have the article at another location. Thank you for your response.

-- Saunders (saunders@mail.clis.com), August 13, 1999


This osunds like a priest who is going to get himself in a lot of trouble sooner or later. May I suggest you address a letter ASAP to the his Bishop? Secondly if this priest is upsetting you deeply it is simply a matter of driving to another parish for mass until the situation is cleared up.

he is cheating you of the beauty of your faith in story tellng which is the foundation of social groups. Sad little man.

Peace And Well Being A Little Brother In Chrsit

-- jean bouchardRC (jeanb@cwk.imag.net), August 14, 1999.

Dear Saunders --

I suggest you read the book Responses to 101 Questions on the Bible by Raymond Brown, a liberal RC. This book sets forth the contemporary RC view of the Bible, and will show you that such ideas are widely taught and approved by the RC Church.

You might wish to then compare this false view with Benjamin B. Warfield's excellent, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible.

-- Steve Jackson (SteveJ100@hotmail.com), August 14, 1999.

Hey, Jackson, the destruction of Biblical authority began with Martin Luther, who set up the authority of the individual in place of the authority of the Church.

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), August 14, 1999.

Steve - I for one am voicing directly I find you offensive on a Catholic site. Could you not sow your seeds of discontent elsewhere please? You are becoming a gnat.

-- jean bouchardRC (jenab@cwk.imag.net), August 16, 1999.

Where is it written that this is a "catholic" site?

-- Steve Jackson (SteveJ100@hotmail.com), August 17, 1999.

Mr. Jackson - My heading for the site shows itself as CATHOLIC TOP LEVEL.

-- jean bouchardRC (jeanb@cwk.imag.net), August 17, 1999.

Dear Saunders, The wise men were astrologers who were waiting to see the star to follow. Whatever star it was that they followed, it got them there. The only problem I see with this is that the time line is a bit screwed up as it would have taken then longer to reach Bethlehem--but does it really matter? Steve------------ Catholic is at the top of each page or can't you read? Ellen

-- Ellen K. Hornby (dkh@canada.com), August 24, 1999.

Ellen - Again I applaud you and hoe perhaps it will sink in. Fundamentalist I have found work to-gether as one has just left for three months to Italy to attempt havec with our Pope.

Others again have given lip service to these memn and others by saying have good trip and look forward to your return. Plastic Catholics is term used by many. +Peace+

-- jean bouchardRC (jeanb@cwk.imag,netj), August 24, 1999.

Speaking about the book of Jonah, the Oxford companion to the Bible calls it "a short parable". We know that parables are comparisons and not necessarily affirm the existence of the persons named in said parables: the prodigal son, the ten virgins, etc. In fact there existed a prophet Jonah, who lived some 200 years before the time the book was written. The author of the book used his name to give us a lesson about repentance, God's mercy and so on. It is a marvelous parable, but it doesn't mean that everything told there actually happened.


-- ENRIQUE ORTIZ (eaortiz@yahoo.com), September 30, 1999.

Dear Saunders, The words in the bible are inspired by God. Many things are parables or stories or comparisons. Do you believe that Eve really ate an apple? Why not an orange or cucumber? The lesson to be learned remains the same--do not disobey God. Was Jonah really swallowed by a whale? It's possible, since God can do anything. But does it really matter? Maybe he dreamed it. Maybe it was made up. The lesson remains the same though, it's about the mercy of God. People of the old testament were not as educated as people of today and didn't have the resources that we have to get information. I tell my grandchildren the story of Little Red Ridinghood. It's easy for them to understand that if they don't follow my rules, something bad will happen to them. Will a wolf really eat them? No, but a pervert will really hurt them. This is a really great story to get the idea of stranger/danger across to kids. So, is the story of Jonah fiction? I don't think it matters much as long as you get the lesson to be learned. As to the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus, this is a whole different matter. The words spoken about this came right from Jesus, who, as Catholics, we believe is God. This was not a parable or story with a hidden meaning. Jesus said to do this in remembrnce of Him. By partaking of this, we are re-enacting our redemption. By communing (hence Communion) we are joining in a union with Christ which "feeds" the soul. It also gives us an increase of grace and it remits venials sin and the punishment associated with it. We do not become God. Ellen

-- Ellen K. Hornby (dkh@canada.com), October 01, 1999.

Dear Sunders: By now you must have a clearer picture. Add to what has been said, that the book of Jonah is a preparation for the idea that salvation was not for a people in particular, but for all humanity, otherwise why forgive the Ninivites?


-- ENRIQUE ORTIZ (eaortiz@yahoo.com), October 01, 1999.

Dear friends. Jesus affirmed the truth of Jonah when he said that just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish 3 days, so shall the Son of Man be in the place of the dead for the same time. This was referring of course to the Jewish concept of 3 days between Jesus' death and resurrection (we can probably conclude the same for Jonah, 3 days meant the evening and the morning, not 24 hour days). Anyway, Jesus also told the Pharisees the men of Ninevah would rise up against them in the day of judgement, so no literal Jonah, no judgement or resurrection! The early Church Fathers as well as our Lord Jesus Christ professed the truth of this in our Catholic faith, unfortunately some modern liberal scholars are poisoining Catholics in many areas, many even denying the existance of hell, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist or the angels, etc. As Catholics we should believe our whole faith, and as St. Paul tells us, watch for false teachers whose teachings will spread like gangrene!

-- George Ayer (georgeayer100@hotmail.com), August 18, 2003.

Yes George! There are a dime and a dozen of them, even WITHIN our Catholic church. It is very wise then for us to know our church history and roots. The true Catholics will not fall away as God will portect his church. Remember what Christ spoke of when he talked about so many false preachers in the end times to lead away if it were possible even the elect?

-- Jason (Enchanted fire5@aol.com), March 13, 2004.

"As Catholics we should believe our whole faith"

A: Of course we should! Not should - must! But that doesn't mean subscribing to the simplistic fallacy claimed by many fundamentalist Protestant sects - that everything included in the Bible must be taken as literal fact. The most extreme proponents of that philosophy are those who drink poison and handle snakes during their worship services. We must indeed believe the message that is conveyed by the story of Jonah. But we do not necessarily have to accept the story as a literal description of an actual historical event. Likewise we must believe what Jesus taught through the parables. But again, we recognize that these parables were made-up stories, designed to illustrate and teach a particular truth. Masterful analogies, but not literal events. Whether the story of Jonah is "fiction", or more properly "allegory", is not the essential question. The essential question is "what is God teaching us through this story?".

-- Paul M. (PaulCyp@cox.net), March 14, 2004.

I would add that discernment of literal vs. allegorical and or any variation thereof is not an independent determination -the Magesterium is interpreter of that requiring interpretation...

-- Daniel Hawkenberry (dlm@catholic.org), March 14, 2004.

To get the “official” take on the Book of Jonah, go to the Introduction of it in the New American Bible at the USCCB website:


-- Ed (catholic4444@yahoo.ca), March 14, 2004.

The Introduction I referred to above tells us that the Book of Jonah is a didactic story, a story designed to be more morally instructive than factually, historically correct.

-- Ed (catholic4444@yahoo.ca), March 14, 2004.

It is very interesting to read the posts from people that know about biblical Exegesis . When the problem of the historicity of the book of Jonah came into my life I asked a learned and very wise priest and he told me about the literary genders (is that the correct word?) and since then I live peacefully, without wondering how Jonah went through the whale's throat and how you had to walk for THREE DAYS to pass from one end of Niniveh to the other. If you walk ten miles a day it would give you a city measuring 30 MILES!!


-- Enrique Ortiz (eaortiz@yahoo.com), March 19, 2004.

Jonah was shopping... Those baerrgan isles took it out of him. Pkus their was ehavy traffic.( Sorry, coulfnt resist.)

I beleive the word you seek is genre.

-- ZAROVE (ZAROFF3@JUNO.COM), March 19, 2004.

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