5th to early 4th century BC. The story has a long interpretive history and has become well-known through popular children’s stories. Jonah is almost entirely narrative, with jonah bible study pdf exception of the psalm in chapter 2.
The actual prophetic word against Nineveh is given only in passing through the narrative. As with any good narrative, the story of Jonah has a setting, characters, a plot, and themes. It also relies heavily on such literary devices as irony. The story of Jonah is a drama between a passive man and an active God. Jonah’s name carries with it an element of passivity. God’s character is altogether active.
While Jonah flees, God pursues. While Jonah falls, God lifts up. The character of God in the story is progressively revealed through the use of irony. He is revealed to be truly loving and merciful. The other characters of the story include the sailors in chapter 1 and the people of Nineveh in chapter 3. These characters are also contrasted to Jonah’s passivity.
While Jonah passively finds himself forced to act under the Divine Will, the people of Nineveh actively petition God to change his mind. The plot centers on a conflict between Jonah and God. God calls Jonah to proclaim judgment to Nineveh, but Jonah resists and attempts to flee. God calls up a great storm at sea, and, at Jonah’s insistence, the ship’s crew reluctantly cast Jonah overboard in an attempt to appease God. For three days and three nights Jonah languishes inside the fish’s belly.