Jonah and the "Great Fish"

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by wil, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    In the Fenton Ferrar translation of the Bible he claims that the "Great Fish" in the Jonah story was the name of the ship that plucked Jonah out of the sea, and he was kept in the hold for three days and then discharged onto land to finish his mission...

    Anyone have any insight, knowledge of this translation?
     
  2. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant New Member

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    I dont know about the translation... but how about that a fish means a literal fish.
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I think that most of us have heard that interpretation, it would be by far the most common. It is what I learned in Sunday school and heard most often preached from the pulpit, and what was in the latest cartoon on the subject.

    What I am particularly interested in in this one is the footnote.
    Now I can fully agree about the perplexity part. And I've also heard another preacher indicate that it was satire regarding the state of a certain politician not doing his duty and was written in the likes of Gullivers Travels or many a story when one can't freely talk about the leaders of the day fearing persecution...you make up farses that tell the story, get the point across because the readers of the day know who you are talking about but the powers that be can't prove it isn't just a story....

    So yes...in my life it is currently 98 to 2. The vast majority believing someone survived for 3 days in the belly of a big fish and then spit out onto the shore... And yes everytime I was perplexed, the canned response was 'Anything is possible with G-d' While I believe that to be true...for some reason I sure don't believe that to have happened in this case. I don't know what the answer is...mistranslation, satire, parable, metaphor, myth or fairy tale...but I don't buy
     
  4. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    InLove has question, please? (And it isn't rhetorical--I am really curious). Whether the whale is a whale or a ship or something else, does it change the essence of the story to you (anyone)? Just wondering.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Actually yes and no. Yes, when it is insisted that it is an actual fish/whale for me it leaves me in the perplexity, is more distant in my realm of acceptability, renders the story mythology. While I have no problem with gaining insight from the metaphor and parables contained in myth, when it is insisted to be litterally true, I admit I have issues.

    Hence my interest in the discussion, amongst both those that wrote and interpret the book (Jews) and those that read and interpret the book (Christians and Muslims).
     
  6. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    I think I see what you are getting at, wil. And it would be interesting to see how a "non-literal" or more questioning interpretation might have an effect on the reader's perspective regarding literary elements like foreshadowing.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Two comments here:

    The one concerns 'literal' translations – the assumption that the 'the most literal' is equally 'the most rational' and therefore 'the most correct' can be erroneous, especially when the genre of literature in question is poetic, and most especially when the Hebrew language particularly delights in wordplay, something the literal misses completely.

    One can render Scripture thus, and reduce it to a banality.

    The other then stems from the above, that in the process of rationalising Scripture, we accommodate it to ourselves (how else can one rationalise?) ... and so discreetly revelation conforms to how we like to think of ourselves, rather than we conform ourselves to the data of revelation.

    The same result ... Scripture is reduced to a banality.

    +++

    It's a question of the spirit and the letter ...

    BTW - if the 'Great Fish' was a ship, and how do we know it was a ship? Then the Prayer of Jonah is rendered meaningless, or at least, again, reduced to the banal. Jonah talks of being sucked down into 'The Deep', between hills, entagled in weeds ... but then the Great Fish took him up ... it has more scope than simply being rescued by a passing boat ...

    Thomas



    Thomas
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    As an example, consider the Transfiguration.

    One account is of ... the Transfiguration ...

    Another account puts forward the idea that it was dawn, and that Christ was standing on a hilltop as the sun rose, and happened to be talking to two passers-by, whom the disciples, being half asleep, mistook for Moses and Elijah. Sleepy heads, a rising sun, morning mist ... nothing out of the ordinary happened at all ... the disciplkes imagined it all.

    It is, after all, a perfectly rational explantation ...

    Thomas
     
  9. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    I wonder, though--is it possible to read any Sacred Text without at least a minimal amount of (and I may spell this wrong--new word to me) "isogesis"? Even when attempting the most literal read?

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi InLove:

    is it possible to read any Sacred Text without at least a minimal amount of "isogesis"?

    I would go further and say without informed guidance – which is what Tradition is – isogesis is inevitable and inescapable. Threads on this board testify to the fact.

    Thus the Catholic idea of Scripture and Tradition – what most people forget is that Tradition was there before Scripture, and it was Tradition that decided what is Scripture and what is not.

    Thomas
     
  11. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    That is a valid point, Thomas. Which kind of brings us back to what wil was asking, I think? That is, how much of the original oral tradition(s) is influenced by symbolism of some kind. Interesting....

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  12. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Some more interesting contemplations...while we are waiting for BB or Dauer to pipe in.

    MyJewishLearning.com

    Jewish Encyclopedia

    This one discusses the belly being sheol

    This one as in love contemplates ignores the fish and discusses the issues

    Wish I could read the rest of this, Josephus interprets Jonah

    And from the American Catholic we get..."[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Jonah is in the biblical style called midrash. It is parahistorical, that is, it has a factual nucleus surrounded by fictional details intended to teach, inspire and encourage"[/FONT]
     
  13. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    A zoologist speaks: the whale is a mammal, not a fish.

    I guess that's way too literal. (or should that be litoral?)

    s.
     
  14. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Did somebody mention "fish?" :p [​IMG]

    Here you can find a link to all of the instances of Strong's number 01709 {dag {dawg} or (fully) da'g,} the word translated as "fish" in the book of Jonah, to be found in the Hebrew scriptures, for comparison.
     
  15. Abdullah

    Abdullah Member

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    Peace :)

    According to Islam, the Prophet Yunus [Jonah], peace be upon him, was swallowed by a big fish and he spent a number of days in the belly of that fish, praying and worshiping his God Allmighty, and after Yunus [as] was inspired to say a special prayer, that went: "There is no God but You, Glory be to You, I was indeed wrong", Allah Allmighty made the fish spit out Yunus [as] on the shore.

    Yunus [as] had fled from his people in anger...after they wouldn't accept his message, and Allah decided to punish him for that impatience.

    When Yunus [as] set of on a boat with some other people, the boat began to rock to and fro violently, and the people of the boat were afraid that if they didn't throw someone out, that the boat would sink, so they decided to draw lots with the travellers names to see who to throw out. The name of the Prophet Yunus [as] came up and the people knew he was a pious person so they decided to do it agian. The name of Yunus [as] came up three times in a row and they had no choice but to throw him out, and once they threw him out...the fish swallowed him.

    May the guidance of God be upon all.

    :)
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi InLove

    ... how much of the original oral tradition(s) is influenced by symbolism of some kind ...

    That's a good question, and focus upon genre – had the 'Big Fish' been a boat, then Jonah's deliverance becomes an act of human agency ... if it was a fish, then two things are immediately obvious:
    1 - Divine Intervention.
    2 - The scribe is telegraphing that very fact.

    The Enlightenment, which forms the cradle of Western thinking today, refutes the former ... and so the whole meaning of the text becomes mundane.

    The miracles of Jesus, for example, are material and literal miracles - they happened - they are moments of Divine Activity 'unmasked' if you like, but the meaning is symbolic in the sense that they were not simply displays of power, they were not something Jesus did, just because He could, to 'show off' to his audience (and there were and are wonder workers then and today who operate under that premise), but something He did to demonstrate, in another and unmistakable form, something about Himself and His mission.

    What He did is transmitted by Scripture, the meaning is transmitted by Tradition.

    Today, after over two hundred years of post-Enlightenment skepticism and empiricism, the language and understanding of symbol is all but lost. Symbols are no longer as transparent as they once were, so there is also the problem that what, in a symbol, might have been evident half a millenia ago, is now quite obscure.

    The debate then moves into the diachronic and synchronic reading of texts ... the West is primarily, to the degree of imbalance, diachronic. The Church is diachronic and synchronic in its understanding, and its teaching.

    We have seen Jewish and Islamic synchronic interpretation in prior posts ... when remains is for the individual to accept one of them, or none of them, in favour of a personalist reading.

    Thomas
     
  17. InLove

    InLove at peace

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    Hi Thomas--

    Would you agree that a key word here is "immediately"?

    This is how I think about it, too. I have no problem with reading the literal--there are things that relate to the historical period and things that are timeless--and often I find both in one passage, though not always.

    Tell me about it! I was invited to a couple of websites recently, and just trying to find a suitable screen name is quite an undertaking--folklore, music, science, "classic" art and literature, and contemporary entertainment, as well as religion--the language and symbols and names often mean a lot more than I am familiar with. I find myself being quite cautious!

    I agree. (Edited to add: At least I think I agree. :) If I take into account the synchronic interpretations, and throw a little diachronic study in--I may come up with a personalist reading?)

    And I thank you for expounding on my question a bit. I appreciate all the thoughtful contributions on this thread. So, thanks, wil!

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  18. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    Here's what Jesus had to say about Jonah:
    Wherever Jonah spent those three days, it would that he was assumed to be dead by the rest of the world during those three days.
     
  19. ~Believer~

    ~Believer~ New Member

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    your story is right but you forgot somthing it wasnt a fish it was a whale

    037.142YUSUFALI: Then the big Fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame.

    142 ‏فَٱلْتَقَمَهُ ٱلْحُوتُ وَهُوَ مُلِيمٌۭ ‎​
    fa'ltaqamahu 'lhuwtu wahuwa muliymunm.

    'lhuwtu here means Whale not fish it is just another mistranslation of the translated quran.
     
  20. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Namaste Believer....I believe whale was always the story mistranslation...but my question is, was the original hebrew indicating a big fish...as oft translated or a boat called the big fish?
     

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