Narrative :: Jonah: Introduction Notes on ch: 1 2 3 4
Study Notes on Jonah (including Hebrew narrative) by Tim Bulkeley
In biblical narrative the speed of telling is seldom uniform. In Jonah it varies widely.
In tracts of speech repeated apparently verbatim the narrative moves at a one-to-one ratio with the plot. These range from mere snippets (the king of Nineveh's proclamation (3:7b-9) through extended conversations (1:6b-14) to Jonah's prayer in 2:2-9).
While on the other hand the arrival of the storm, and the mariners frantic attempts to save the vessel are told in 2 verses (1:4-5), and - excepting the prayer - Jonah's three days and nights in the fish pass in a few words.
Not only does the speed of telling vary, Jonah also makes use of temporal dislocation, with flashback (1:5 "Jonah meanwhile..."; 1:10 "because he had told..."; 1:17 one presumes the fish arrived in less time than it takes to offer a good sacrifice; 4:5, Jonah is still unaware of "what would become of the city" despite his conversation with God in 4:2-4) and flash forward (1:17b the end of Jonah's time in the fish is mentioned before the prayer or the spewing up).
© Tim Bulkeley, 2003