Jonah the Prophet

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
I should have asked this question last week but I think it is important to discuss.

I want poll of everyone's understanding of Coptic Orthodoxy relating to Jonah.

Why is Jonah called a prophet?

I know the answer but I want to see what everyone else will say. After I will discuss the Orthodox understanding of Jonah and why it is important for us to discuss it.

PS: If your answer is "Just as Jonah was physically in the belly of the whale/fish/earth for three days and three nights so Christ was in the tomb for three days and three nights." - If this is your answer, then it is wrong.

PPS: I'll give you a hint. The answer is in the first verse of Jonah's doxology. But if you're relying on the Arabic or English translation, you'll end up with the same wrong answer above. The answer is in the Greek/Coptic.

Comments

  • Nobody wants to venture a guess?
  • Nobody wants to have their ignorance revealed! But I don't mind  :P

    Your question: Why is Jonah called a prophet?

    My answer: He spoke to God and delivered His message to the people of Nineveh.
  • Because he was a prophet, and was given a prophesy to deliver to Ninevah.
  • I am trying to dig into the first into the coptic but hard to find anything special with any rigorous study.....ya3ny he was the cause of salvation to the Nenivites.
  • So what exactly was the message and prophecy to the Ninevites?

    Let me put it another way. A prophet tells or reveals a future event. An angel or messenger or apostle delivers a message. Why is Jonah called a prophet and not a messenger our an apostle?

    I'm not trying to exploit  anyone's ignorance. I think we have a tendency to say or believe things without any question to it's validity. If we step back and think about it for a while, we'll find a deeper meaning in our faith.
  • Coptic:

    Aiwsh evol khen pahogheg ouve pchoice panouti ouwoh afsotem eroi evol khen ethneji en-amenti aksotem etaesmee!

    The Hebrew equivalent is "Sheol." Both "Sheol" and "Amenti" are words which are used to mean the place of death - the underworld.  I think what the prophecy refers to is that Jesus not only was in the grave just as Jonah was in the fish, but rather that while Jonah was in the fish, he says that he cried from "Amenti." Similarly, Christ who was in the grave was at the same time in "Amenti" before he rose up again.

    I must admit, that I did not fully make this interpretation up myself but that Deacon Sawiris Mikhail spoke it in his sermon which Andrew very kindly posted. It can be found here.

    Did I win? LOL

    ReturnOrthodoxy
  • Because of this:

    2 Kings 14:25

    "He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gathhepher."
  • Why does everyone keep bringing up Nineveh? The question was "why is Jonah called a prophet?", not "what is Jonah remembered for". Nineveh can't be the reason, because he was a prophet way before that.

    That's like saying 'st. paul is an apostle because of the epistles he wrote or moses is a prophet because he led the israelites through the wilderness', but it's because they had pure intentions and God wanted to use them for His Glory. The events that happened in their lives isn't the reason they're apostles/prophets, right?
  • Thank you for your responses. Let me explain my question.

    I have heard of Muslim apologetics attacking Christianity in response to Fr Zakariah's attacks on Islam. Just like Fr Zakariah attacks Islam from their own books, some Muslim apologetics are attacking Christianity from the Bible. One of the main attacks by Muslims is the sign of Jonah that St Matthew describes, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40)

    Basically, their argument is this: Jonah, in the Quran Chapter 37:1139-148, was swallowed by a giant fish and because he repented in the fish, he was delivered. But the Quran doesn't mention three days and three nights in the belly of the whale. They argue that the Bible is a lie. They argue that no matter how you calculate it, the 6th hour on Good Friday (3:00PM) to Early Resurrection Sunday morning is 1 day and 2 nights (6 on Good Friday + 24 on Saturday + 6 on Resurrection Sunday = 36 hours), not 3 days and 3 nights (72 hours). So Christ could not have been in Hades for 3 days and 3 nights. They also believe Jesus was never crucified nor resurrected, as it says in Quran 4:157. In addition, they noted that Coptic hymns for Jonah also claim Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights like Jonah. They are indirectly attacking the Coptic Orthodox faith by attacking the historical and logical validity of Matthew 12:40.

    The answer is actually very simple, if you understand Jonah was a prophet, not simply a messenger or an allegory of Christ's burial. Copts, in recent times, have shifted their paradigm from Nineveh's repentance and God's mercy to Jonah's miraculous journey in a fish. That is why I personally don't believe we should use the refrain "Jonah was in the belly of the whale, like Christ in the tomb for three days." (By the way, the Coptic text found here is wrong). The refrain is not found in any manuscript, nor is it recorded by any major cantor. And if you examine the words carefully, it ignores Jonah's prophecy while focusing Jonah's journey. Ironically, it's Jonah's prophecy that Christ wanted to illustrate in Matthew 12.

    According to Genesis, a day is not defined as a 24 hour period where the earth makes a full revolution on it's own axis. In Genesis, night is defined as a moment of darkness and day is defined as a moment of light. Therefore, Jonah 2:1 means the whale with Jonah in it came up to daylight 3 times and returned to darkness 3 times in an unknown period of time (which may or may not equal 72 hours).  All that is important is that 3 days and 3 nights does not necessarily equal 72 hours. Similarly, when Christ said "the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth", He never meant 72 hours. What He did mean, he fulfilled (that is 3 moments of darkness and 3 moments of light). At 3:00 PM on Good Friday, there was darkness for 3 hours. So the first "night" after Jesus died on the 6th hour of Good Friday occurred immediately. The first day started at 6:00 PM on Good Friday when the sun returned. The second night started at sunset of Good Friday, which is the 11th hour on Good Friday (approximately 9:00 PM) and the second day started at sunrise on Bright Saturday, which is the 1st Hour of Bright Saturday (approximately 6:00 AM). The third night started at sunset of Bright Saturday, which is the 11th hour of Bright Saturday (approximately 9:00 PM) and the third day started at sunrise (or even earlier) on the 1st hour of Resurrection Sunday (approximately 6:00 AM).

    Let's return to Jonah. ReturnOrthodoxy got the right answer from Deacon Severus. Jonah prophesied about Christ's descent into Hades, Amenti or Sheol. Jonah described his descent into Hades as a prison "I went down into the earth, whose bars are the everlasting barriers." (Jonah 2:7 in LXX and Coptic Bible only). All other English translations write "the earth beneath barred me in forever." (or something similar that doesn't mention metal or iron bars). St Peter confirmed this in 1 Peter 3:19 " by whom also He [Christ] went and preached to the spirits in prison." So Hades was a prison that has "everlasting barriers or bars" which is death. Every human must die and go to this prison. St Cyril of Alexandria expands on this in his Commentary on the Twelve Prophets p.164. St Cyril's version of Jonah 2:7 says, "I descended onto land, whose everlasting bars held me tight."  St Cyril comments that Jonah was not dead and he never went to Hades, but he says I descended to that place with "unbreakable" and eternal bars. But since he knew he was not dead but in the belly of the whale, St Cyril comments, he had hope that he would be delivered before he perished in the whale and in Hades. In this, Jonah spoke a prophecy about Christ's descent into this prison on the first night after his death (that is 3:00-6:00 PM on Good Friday).

    This brings me to the Coptic doxology of Jonah. The Coptic text reads Iwna pi`[email protected] naf,y qen `;neji `[email protected] `nsomt (=g) `n`ehoou nem somt `n`[email protected] kata pikwc `mpenCwtyr. The English translation (which is taken from Arabic and not Coptic) reads "Jonah the prophet, was in the belly of the whale, for three days and three nights, like the burial of our Savior." However,  pikwc does not mean burial. It is taken from the Greek word κῶς which means prison.. So the correct translation, which is Scripture based and Orthodox in context, is "Jonah the prophet was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights like the prison journey of our Savior. Of course, there is really no good English equivalent for pikwc. A footnote will be needed to describe the meaning of verse. Notice the emphasis is no longer on the physical burial of Christ but on the Savior's soul's prison journey.

    Isn't God amazing!!! He does not the desire the death of a sinner, nor his imprisonment in Hades, nor the sting of death through sin but rather that they should be restored and raised from the corruption of death. Both King David and Jonah prophesied that Christ would not see corruption in Hades and that He will restore sinners who were in Hades. Jonah 1:7 says, "O Lord my God, let my ruined life be restored." (LXX only). The Coptic version says "O Lord my God, let the corruption of my life be lifted up." Most other English versions have "You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God." In the Septuagint and Coptic versions, you can see the theme of corruption and death powerless before the Lord.

    Additionally, TITL and Hezekiel is correct. Jonah was a prophet before he came anywhere near Nineveh. He is a prophet because he spoke of future events: not Nineveh's destruction in 40 days because that never happened, but Christ's prison journey and King Jeroboam of Judah's annex of Israel's land.

    PS: ReturnOrthodoxy, where did you get the Coptic version of Jonah? I have my own personal copy from St Shenouda the Archimandrite Society but I know it isn't available to the public.
  • The whole book of Jonah has a hidden narrative of Christ. As such the very record of Jonah's life is a prophecy of Christ. I believe this is the essence of what Christ shared on the road to Emmaus when he said that all the scriptures spoke of him. Here is Chapter 3. If you are interested in the rest of the book I will post it too. (This is a paraphrase)

    Jonah 3

        Jon 3:1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

    And Christ came to the Holy Spirit a second time, saying

        Jon 3:2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.


    Arise
    Ascend

    Nineveh
    Children of ‘prepare a habitation’ Christ is preparing a place for us, so the church is his ‘children’.

    Great city
    Kingdom of God- walled cities are the inheritance of priests, and this city is distinguished from all others.

    Ascend and go to the church, the Kingdom of God, and preach what I tell you.

        Jon 3:3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.

    Three day journey
    The grave was a three day journey for Christ

    So Christ went to the church, according to the word of the Lord: Now the church was the Kingdom of God brought forth from the grave of Christ.

        Jon 3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

    Forty
    4 x 10 The word of God as spoken through the four voices of the Son as the dual natured man (10)

    When the Son is finished speaking, man will be judged.

        Jon 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.


    Fast
    No eating. Since Jesus is the Word and his body is the bread which is given for us. The fast began a time where there was no Word of God.

    Sackcloth
    Works like filthy rags – All garments are works.

    So the people of the church were without Christ and declared their own works to be as filthy rags.

        Jon 3:6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

    For the word came to the king of Nineveh
    Christ is now represented by the King

    He arose
    Had work to do – Sitting is a finished work

    Ashes
    Total devotion unto death – Ashes represent the remains of the burnt offering which is Christ’s total devotion unto death.

    Christ arose to do a work, descended from his place of honor, declared the people’s sins his own, and was consumed by total devotion to the Father unto death.


        Jon 3:7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:


    Nobles
    Greater – The Father

    God reveals himself through the word, his works and through the life. Normally we see hearing, seeing and walking used to describe how we perceive him. Here tasting is equivalent to hearing without understanding. There is no substance in either. Eating is equivalent to seeing, since understanding comes from ruminating on his word. And Water/the word is the source of life represented by walking. In this picture they have become desolate of Christ. He is in the grave!

    And Christ caused it to be published through the church by the decree of Christ and his Father saying, Christ is in the grave.

        Jon 3:8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

    Beast – man without the word of God

    Man – in contrast, those who have heard the Word of God

    But let Jew and Gentile declare their works as filthy rags, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

        Jon 3:9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

    Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

        Jon 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

    And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
  • Splenior, this seems to be very apocryphal in nature. I especially don't think it is proper to say "the word came to Christ the King" or "The fast began a time where there was no Word of God." or "The word of God as spoken through the four voices of the Son as the dual natured man". Christ is the Word of God and there never was a time when Christ was not the Word of God. There is no Orthodox Christological formula that calls Christ "The Word of god spoken through four voices" or "dual natured man". That seems very Nestorian. I'm not exactly sure that your analysis is proper or Orthodox.
  • Four voices.. Jesus spoke as prophet, priest, king and judge. What is not orthodox about that?

    I think that your are imposing meaning upon my paraphrase.  I may not verbalize things the same way, but I doubt that anything I said is too far off.

    Christ certainly had a dual nature. Anything else you impose is not something I have said.

    To say that the Word of God came to Christ is no different than David saying, "The Lord said to my Lord'  anything else is something you are imposing. 

    When Christ was made to be sin, and the Father had 'forsaken him' where was God on earth and how much more desolate could it be? It is not heretical to say that people were without Christ. There still are some who are figuratively in a fast of the Word of God.

    I don't mind answering questions and would prefer to do so than to be put in a position of defensiveness. It makes for a more pleasant conversation.  Thanks.
  • Remnkemi,

    I have benefited from your numerous posts due to your knowledge in Coptic, and more importantly, our Orthodox faith. Please continue to enlighten us with these "hidden gems."


    Tony
  • [quote author=splenior link=topic=12903.msg151837#msg151837 date=1329183553]
    Four voices.. Jesus spoke as prophet, priest, king and judge. What is not orthodox about that?

    Christ has many title. He is also GOD the Son. What makes those 4 stand out.

    Also, I wanted to know if you have a source for this interpretation.
  • Thanks for asking. The four voices stand out as the four heads of the waters of Eden, the four faces within the wheels, and the four animals which carried bread, the four gospels, and the four points of the cross, as well as others.  The symbols are clustered.  They are also related historically to the Quadriga or four layers of Biblical interpretation. The Jews also have a similar division as the Quadriga.

    As the Son, he is the Unbegotten Only Son, the Only Begotten Son,  and the Usurping Second Son. The symbols for  the Usurping Second Son are usually clustered with the symbols for the Only Begotten Son. The Usurping Second Son is represented by the first eight names mentioned in Matthew's genealogy, speaking of Christ as the second Adam who obtains the promise and inheritance that the first son lost.

    As the Only Begotten Son, he died desolate, but obtained the promise in resurrection, as represented by the usurping second sons of history.

    The source is the same as the shadow of Christ's birth in Gen 38 that I shared elsewhere.  I am hoping to find someone familiar with it.

    I have been in relative isolation for twenty years, so the way I say things are probably not standard to what you are accustomed to hearing. Thanks for your patience with me.
  • [quote author=minatasgeel link=topic=12903.msg151846#msg151846 date=1329189378]
    [quote author=splenior link=topic=12903.msg151837#msg151837 date=1329183553]
    Four voices.. Jesus spoke as prophet, priest, king and judge. What is not orthodox about that?

    Christ has many title. He is also GOD the Son. What makes those 4 stand out.

    Also, I wanted to know if you have a source for this interpretation.


    There's something similar in the nativity account of orthodox study bible. Eg the king was not Jewish so this position was vacant or Christ to fill
  • [quote author=Remnkemi link=topic=12903.msg151829#msg151829 date=1329181270]
    ReturnOrthodoxy got the right answer from Deacon Severus.

    PS: ReturnOrthodoxy, where did you get the Coptic version of Jonah? I have my own personal copy from St Shenouda the Archimandrite Society but I know it isn't available to the public.


    So what did I win? :D I'm joking!

    I got my bible from a website which I found long ago, and I actually printed it out using my free printing allotment from school and some of my own money. It was worth it. LOL.

    ReturnOrthodoxy
  • [quote author=splenior link=topic=12903.msg151830#msg151830 date=1329181576]
        Jon 3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

    Forty
    4 x 10 The word of God as spoken through the four voices of the Son as the dual natured man (10)


    The translation of this verse is wrong. The Septuagint translation (as found in the Orthodox Study Bible) reads "three days" not forty.
  • The Fathers teach that when the Scriptures say that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights, as our Lord was in the tomb, that this is an idiom in which the part stands for the whole.

    We understand this ourselves. If I am with you on Monday evening and I say I will see you in a couple of days, I mean that sometime on Wednesday I hope to see you. I do not mean that there must be the passage of at least 48 hours before I see you.

    So it is that the passage of part of Friday, all of Saturday, and part of Sunday are parts of three days and are therefore referred to as 'three (days and nights)'.
  • ......this is kind of off the subject, but I was reading the Wisdom of Solomon and came across this scripture which really made me think: 7:27-30  ---
      [center]Though she is one, she can do all things;
    So while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
    And in every generation, she passes into holy souls
    And makes them friends of God and prophets.+
    Thus God loves nothing as much
    As the one who lives with wisdom.
    For wisdom is more beautiful than the sun.
    And more than every constellation of stars.
    Compared with light she is found to be superior.
    For night succeeds the light,
    But evil cannot overcome wisdom. [/center]


    It seemed coincidental for me to be drawn to this thread today about prophets, and length of day or night.

    GB
  • [quote author=Father Peter link=topic=12903.msg151869#msg151869 date=1329220332]
    The Fathers teach that when the Scriptures say that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights, as our Lord was in the tomb, that this is an idiom in which the part stands for the whole.

    We understand this ourselves. If I am with you on Monday evening and I say I will see you in a couple of days, I mean that sometime on Wednesday I hope to see you. I do not mean that there must be the passage of at least 48 hours before I see you.

    So it is that the passage of part of Friday, all of Saturday, and part of Sunday are parts of three days and are therefore referred to as 'three (days and nights)'.


    This what I was taught. I also think Remnkemi's explanation makes sense too. I think they both can co-exist.
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