Jesus and Jonah is J. W. McGarvey's defense of the historicity of the Biblical account of the book of Jonah based on Jesus' teaching about Jonah-which is the same as His teaching regarding the historicity of the rest of the Old Testament. This would indicate that Jesus either accepts all of it as historical or none of it as historical. Since the New Testament makes it plain that Jesus accepts the Old as historical, McGarvey argues that the denial of the Jonah story makes Jesus either a liar or a fool.
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We have seen for over two centuries the movement by many away from an acceptance of the Biblical story as fact by many who would still claim to be Christians. Various justifications are attempted in order to explain away the challenges presented by believing some parts of the narrative as written while rejecting others.McGarvey takes the opportunity in this book to call out such persons to make a decision: wholly accept the narrative as is or wholly reject the narrative as is. He uses the story of Jonah as presented in the book of Jonah along with Jesus' use of the "sign of Jonah" as an indication of the resurrection in Matthew 12, etc. McGarvey first explores the various arguments made by noted scholars of his day and exposes their inconsistencies and fallacies. He then goes through the narrative of Jonah and demonstrates quite well that it is harder to believe that an Israelite would make up the story than to believe that the events described happened. He concludes with a discussion of the Jewish reckoning of time and how there is no inconsistency between the account of Jesus' death and resurrection and the "sign of Jonah." McGarvey explains the text well but argues a bit too much on the basis of unsubstantiated inferences. Nevertheless, he makes his argument quite well, and it is an argument that has become no less relevant to the twenty-first century. It is important for us to consider how the New Testament presents itself as conveying historical, actual, substantive events, and the authors thereof believe firmly in the events described in the Old Testament, considering how many wish to divide the "historical Jesus" from the "Christ of faith" and to deny or reject any supernatural event. McGarvey's plea ought to ring out today: accept the Gospel narratives for what they claim to be or entirely reject Jesus as a liar or lunatic-- but you cannot attempt to accept Jesus in faith while rejecting what He said or did.A great little book for reading and consideration.