The New Jonah

As C. Kavin Rowe and Richard Hays have shown (among others), NT writers sometimes tell us readers that Jesus is the LORD God, and sometimes show us. The story of Jesus’ quelling the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4) belongs to the latter category. Here, as so often, Mark articulates Jesus’ identity by way of allusions to the LORD’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament. This story has to be read against the backdrop of Jonah’s attempted to flight to Tarshish. Jesus, like Jonah, slept in a boat amid a terrible storm (cf. Mk 4:237-38, Jonah 1:5-6). But Jesus too, like the LORD, calms the storm (Mk 4:39, Jonah 1:15-16). Jesus, though one persons, acts as both fully man and fully God; Chalcedonian Christology isn’t an alien imposition upon the narrative structure of the Gospels, but a way of making that structure explicit.

One plot detail from Jonah is strikingly absent in the Gospel: before the storm is stilled, saving the passengers, Jonah has to be cast into the sea, into the “belly of Sheol” (Jonah 2:2), where after three days he would return to the land of the living. This initial parallel with Jonah primes the reader to expect the climactic “sign of Jonah” (Mt 12:39-40), the saving death and resurrection of new Jonah.

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This entry was posted in Bible, Chalcedon, Christology, Gospels, Jesus, Jonah, Mark, OT in the NT and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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