JONAH’S SIGN

Either it is given or it isn’t given

or it is given and it isn’t given

Is the Bible the word of God?

The word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.” (Lk 3:2).

Can the word of God be found in a wilderness?  Or in a book?  Or on a cereal box?

Can the word of God be found on TV?  I don’t watch TV – hard to find a drop of inspiration in something that is 99 percent garbage.

What is the word of God?  Could it be Wisdom?  (Wisdom is a feminine word in Hebrew.)

A friend has alerted me to Sirach 24:9 and this description of Wisdom:  “Before all ages, in the beginning, he created me, and through all ages I shall not cease to be.”  (Catholic CE)  Compare to John 1:1.

Why are Sirach and other books omitted from the King James?  Somebody decided they were not the word of God?  On what basis?

Did Jesus have Wisdom?  Sure.

Can one find Wisdom in the Bible?  Sure.

Is the Bible always correct as if it were dictated by God?  (“Hey you there, write this down exactly.”)

The Gospel is not always “correct,” rather the author(s) seem to delight in making little discrepancies; for example, compare:

There shall no sign be given unto this generation” (Mk 8:12 (KJV))

There shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas” (Mt 12:39 (KJV) see also Mt 16:4 and Lk 11:29)

So which is it?  No sign at all OR no sign except one sign?

Shades of gray

Must we always seek harmony and certainty?  The only thing certain is that we seek that which is at best Hidden.

The Gospel is not necessarily always harmonious but it can be just so right for us, at least for those who delight in being puzzled and have the patience for it.

By coincidence I came across this saying attributed to the Upanishads on a CD insert:  “There has never been an objective being.  Knowing this, the rest is known.”

Implication – because there is no objective being, that statement could not have been made objectively?

Maybe the scriptures were intended by their authors to guide us and also to reflect the uncertainties in our lives.

Was Jonah in the belly of a whale?  Well, not exactly.  The correct translation of the Greek in Matthew 12:40 is “large sea creature,” according to my Greek dictionary, and not “whale” (KJV) or “huge fish” (TNIV).  There is no indication it was a species of fish or a whale.  Why do translators talk down to readers?

The sea creature in The Book of Jonah in the Hebrew Bible is translated from the Hebrew as “great fish” in the KJV, which is different from their Matthew translation of “whale,” so is the Hebrew meaning different from the Greek?  Grosvenor’s Analysis tells me the Greek in Matthew means “sea-monster” and the Hebrew in Jonah means “huge fish.”  So yes, they are different.  She says that the “belly” is rather a “hollow” in the Greek.

Take a look at Leviathan, the sea “dragon,” in Psalm 74:13-14 (KJV), vanquished by the Yahweh sky-god.  Is Matthew talking about such a sea serpent?   Could there be reasons why the writer of Matthew might have switched to a great sea serpent instead of a fish or some other creature?  I can guess there is some significant symbolism, but have no way of knowing for sure how the first-century Pagans, the intended audience for the Gospel, would have interpreted it.

Matthew explains what the sign of Jonah is in 12:40:  “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (KJV)  I will guess that both the sea creature and the “heart of the earth” have feminine connotations and refer to the same Female.  The “sea creature” may be a sea serpent like Leviathan (labeled “him” by the patriarchal writer) or the Serpent (forced to eat dirt by the patriarchal writer of Genesis 3:14), symbol of Her wisdom and also a symbol of regeneration (relevant to Easter).  While Matthew’s term “heart of the earth” could mean the center of the underworld abode of the dead, I’ll guess that the “heart,” or something euphemistically called a heart, belongs to someone such as Sirach’s “mother of all the living” to whom all people eventually return (40:1 (CCE)).  So are we given a parallel between two similar situations, Jesus’ stay in his tomb and Jonah’s stay in the “hollow,” both of which involve being in Her encompassing womb (symbolically) and from thence to birth?  (Yes, I did mean to say “birth” and I don’t mean reincarnation here.)

Is Jesus’ resurrection a passage from his tomb or from his Life or both?  Isn’t the answer “both” because death is a part of life?  What is the “corn of wheat” that “falls into the ground” (John 12:24 (KJV))?  Maybe all of life, all being, is the seed inside the nurturing ground (womb) that finally produces – what??

Who knows?

Only one teensy problem with Jonah’s sign:  none of the Gospel accounts have Easter happening after three days and three nights.  In fact, none have it after three days; rather, at most, the stay in the tomb occurs on three days and the resurrection occurs early on the second day following the crucifixion.  Did the Gospel author make a mistake?  In my view, miscounting the days would have to be intentional (to challenge the reader).  Even the most novice story-teller would be able to count three days and three nights and stick with the plot if he (or she) so desired.  Some Christians celebrate Easter Sunday the day after on Monday in an attempt to harmonize the timing.

So does the Gospel give us the sign of Jonah?

In a way yes.  In a way no.  (We can recognize an analogy but the timing is off.)

Is this dissatisfying?

What would our lives be like if we knew anything with certainty?

When you read claims of the biblical author that “The Lord was with Joshua” (Joshua 6:27 (KJV)) and that “The Lord fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14 (KJV)) as they invaded Old Palestine, committing genocide against the native inhabitants in order to steal their land, do you ask yourself – “whose word is that?”  Your answer may depend on whether you gained any insights, or even some wisdom, from reading it.

Being able to recognize the subjectivity in those passages would have to be the beginning of wisdom.

So does the Bible, subjectively written, or my life, subjectively perceived, have a relationship to something that is Indefinable?

I’m sure I don’t know if the answer is yes or no or both.

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