The Authenticity of Jonah  Article 2 of 2

  by Robert Dick Wilson

Taken from:The Princeton Theological Review Vol. 16 No. 3 (1918)


Article II

Having in the preceding article1 considered the words and phrases which the critics have adduced as linguistic peculiarities indicating a postexilic date for the Book of Jonah, we propose to examine in the present article the other marks which are alleged in favor of this date.

Objections Stated

Dr. Driver claims that the Book of Jonah cannot have been written "until long after the life time of Jonah himself." He tells us:

"This appears (1) from the style which has several Aramaisms, or other marks of a later age . . .2 (2) from the Psalm in c. 2, which consists largely of reminiscences of other Psalms (in the manner of Ps. 142, 143, 144:1-11), many of them not of early origin (comp. v. 2 Ps. 18:6, 5, 120:1; v. 3 Ps. 18:4, 42:7:v. 4 Ps. 31:22, Lam. 3:54; v. 5a Ps. 18:4, 116:3, 69:1; v.6 Ps.30:3; v.7 Ps. 142:3, 18:6; v.8 Ps. 31:6; v. 9 Ps. 50:14, 116:17 f., 3:8):a Psalm of Jonah's own age would certainly have been more original, as it would also have shown a more antique coloring. (3) From the general thought and tenor of the book, which presupposes the teaching of the great prophets (comp. esp. 3:10 with Jer. 18:7 f.) (4) The non-mention of the name of the Assyrian king, who plays such a prominent part in c. 3, may be taken as an indication that it was not known to the author of the work. The title "king of Nineveh" (3:6) is one, remarks Sayce (Monuments p. 487), which could never have been applied to him while the Assyrian empire was still in existence,"3

De Wette-Schrader say that Jonah 2:3-10 "from beginning to end is pieced together from passages out of the Psalms, borrowed here and there without regard to suitability."4

Cornill says: "To see in it any genuine work of the old historical Jonah . . . is, in view of its literary character, which marks it as belonging to the latest lyrical poetry, quite impossible."5 Prof. Cornill asserts that the character of the whole representation accords with the linguistic characteristics to point to the latest period of Hebrew literature, since the book is dependent on older models: "thus Jonah 3:9 = Joel 2:14; Jonah 4:2 = Joel 2:13, Ex. 34:6, Ps. 86:15, 103:8; and the story in Jonah 4 of the marvellous tree is obviously imitated from the narrative, in 1 Kings 19, of Elijah under the juniper tree in the wilderness. The manner, too, in which, 3:3, Nineveh is spoken of, as. a marvellous city of legendary times which had long since disappeared, is inconceivable in the case of an author of the time of Jeroboam II; finally the piling up of marvellous features is quite in the style of Chronicles and Daniel."6


These statements of the critics involve the following assumptions:

I. That Jonah is a patchwork consisting largely of reminiscences of the psalms and prophetical writings.

II. That in the same manner psalms 142, 143, and 144:1-11 consist of reminiscences.

III. That a psalm of Jonah's own age would certainly have been more original.

IV. That, if written by Jonah, chapter 2 would have to have a more antique coloring.

V. That chapter 2 has marks of the latest lyrical poetry.

VI. That the general thought and tenor of the book presupposes the teaching of the great prophets.

VII. That the manner in which Nineveh and its king are spoken of is inconceivable in an author from the time of Jeroboam II.

Discussion of the Assumptions

I. Before entering on the examination of the phraseology of Jonah's psalm (chapter 2), a few remarks may be made about the alleged character of psalms which might have been written in "Jonah's own age." The latest critics who assert that all the psalms in the Hebrew Psalter, except possibly the i8th, are postexilic, have left to themselves few standards of compositions with which to compare the originality and antique coloring of Jonah's poem. Even Dr. Driver thinks that only fifteen of the psalms may be pre-exilic7 and that very few are earlier than the 7th century,8 In general, the poetical portions of the Pentateuch, such as Gen. 49, Ex. i5, parts of Num. 2124, and Deut. 32, 33, are supposed to antedate the 8th century B.C. As to J. and E. the critics "agree that neither is later than 750 B.C."9 Judges 5, and the poetical parts of Samuel are all dated before the 8th century. Large parts of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings10 are the work of the Deuteronomic or prophetic compilers of the times near the exile, or even of later redactors. Practically all of Hosea and Amos, and parts at least of Micah, Isaiah and Proverbs are also admitted to be from the 8th century B.C.11

To sum up, the only literature in the Old Testament that the critics admit to be from or before the 8th century B.C. are J and E, Hosea and Amos; and parts of Micah, Isaiah, Judges, Samuel, Kings and Proverbs.

In the second period, from 700 to 540 B.C. they, for the most part, put Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the so-called Deutero-Isaiah, Deuteronomy, the Holiness Code; most of Joshua; parts of Micah, Judges, Samuel and Kings; Obadiah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, and some of the Psalms. '

In the late period, they put the priestly part of the Hexateuch (P); parts of Micah, Isaiah, and Proverbs; Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Haggai, Malachi, Joel, Jonah, Job; most of the Psalms; Esther, Daniel, Ecclesiastes; and part or all of Zechariah. As to Ruth and the Song of Songs, they vary between the second and third period in fixing the time of their production.

The readers of this article will be kind enough to keep in mind that its arguments are made upon the basis of the assumption that the dates assigned by the destructive critics to the various parts of the Old Testament are correct. It should be hardly necessary for the writer to state that he does not himself hold this presumption to be true. If, with THEIR OWN ASSUMPTION AS TO DATES IN THEIR FAVOR, THE CRITICS HAVE ONLY ONE LEG TO STAND ON, THERE IS NO LEG IN SIGHT FOR THEM IF WE ARGUE ON THE BASIS OF THE PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF DATE PRESENTED BY THE BOOKS THEMSELVES.

After these preliminary remarks, we will now proceed to the discussion of the objections made by the critics to the early date of Jonah on the ground of the alleged reminiscences.

A. The evidence for reminiscences. The only evidence for reminiscences, or for the dependence of Jonah upon his predecessors, which the critics have to present, is found in the citations given above in the statements quoted from them. In order to set clearly before our readers the exact character and amount of this evidence, these passages in Jonah and their alleged prototypes will first of all be cited in full:"11a


Jonah 2:3a.

I called out of my anguish unto Jehovah, and he answered me.


Ps. 18:7a

In my anguish I used to call.


Ps. 120:1.

Unto Jehovah in my anguish I called and he answered me.

Jonah 2:3b.

(From the belly of Sheol) I cried, thou hast heard my voice.


Ps. 18:7a.

And (unto my God) I used to cry, he wed to hear (from his temple) my voice.


Jonah 2:4b.

And a river used to be around me.


Ps. 18:6.

The cords of death went around me.


Jonah 2:4c.

All thy breakers and thy rollers over mc Passed.


Ps. 42:8.

All thy breakers and thy rollers over me paned.


Jonah 2:5a.

And I said: I have been driven out (nirgashti) from before thine eyes


Ps. 31:23.

And I said in my haste: I have cut off (nirgashti) from before thine eyes.


Lam. 3:54.

I said: I have been cut off (nirgashti).

Jonah 2:6a.

Surrounded me waters unto soul.


Ps. 69:2.

Came waters unto soul.

Ps. 18:5.

Surrounded me cords of death.


Ps. 116:3.

Surrounded me cords of death.

Jonah 2:6b.

(An) abyss used to go around mc.


Ps. 18:5.

And the wadys of Belial med to terrify mc,


Ps. 69:2.

I dipped in the mire of the depth.

Jonah 2:6c.

Sea weed (was) bound to my head.


Ps. 18:5.

Cords of Sheol went round me.


Ps. 116:3.

And the pains of Sheol gat hold on me.

Jonah 2:7b.

And thou hast brought up from destruction my life.


Ps. 18:6.

In my anguish I used to call.


Ps. 30:4.

O Jehovah, thou hast brought up from Sheol my soul.

Jonah 2:8a.

At the overwhelming of my soul Jehovah I remembered.


Ps. 142:4.

At the overwhelming of my spirit, thou knewest my path.


Jonah 2:8b.

And came unto thee my prayer unto the temple of thy holiness.


Ps. 18:6.

And my cry before Him used to come in his


Jonah 2:9.

They that observe vanities of nothingness, their mercy are wont to forsake.


Ps. 31:7.

I hate them that observe vanities of nothingness; but I trust in Jehovah.


Jonah 2:10a

And I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to thee.


Ps. 42:4.

I led them to the house of God with the voice of joy and thanksgiving.

Ps. 116:17.

To Thee I will sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving.


Ps. 50:14.

Sacrifice to God a thanksgiving (same word as in Jonah 2:10a).

Jonah 2:10b.

What I hove vowed, I will pay.


Ps. 50:14.

And pay to the Most High thy vows.


Ps. 116:18.

My vow to Jehovah will I pay.


To these "reminiscences" given by Dr. Driver may be added the following marks of dependence from Cornill's Introduction, page 337.


Jonah 3:9a.

Who knoweth whether God may return and repent.


Joel 2:14a.

Who knoweth whether he may return and repent.


Jonah 4:2c.

Thou (art) a God gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and repenteth thee of the evil.


Joel 2:13.

He (is) gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and repenteth him of the evil.

Ps. 86:15.

Thou Lord art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness and truth.



Jehovah (is) a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness and truth.

Ps. 103:8.

Merciful and gracious is Jehovah, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness.

Jonah 4:5, 8.

And Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city and made him a booth and sat under it in the shadow till he might see what would become of the city . . . and he wished in himself to die, and he said: It is better for me to die than to live.


1 Kings 19:4,

And he went into the wilderness a day's journey and came and sat under a juniper tree and he wished in himself to die, and he said: I am no better than my fathers.


Jonah 3:10.

They turned from their evil way and God repented concerning the evil which he had spoken to do to them


Jer 18:8.

And shall turn the nation from its evil which I had spoken concerning it and I will repent concerning the evil which I. thought to do to it.



B. Discussion of the evidence for reminiscences.

I. As to the assumption, that Jonah 2 "consists largely of reminiscences of the Psalms," the following answer may be made.

(1) The tendency shown by the critics, as pointed out above, to assign the Psalms to a date as late or later than that at which they place Jonah, is not favorable to the theory that Jonah 2 "consists largely of reminiscences of the Psalms." Thus, many of the psalms cited by Dr. Driver in his section on Jonah12 are asserted by him in his section on the Psalms13 to be "postexilic, some perhaps late in the postexilic period." Many of the critics of the Wellhausen school put Pss. 42, 116, 120 and 142 in the Maccabean times. Most of them regard all the others, except the 18th, as of postexilic origin. Even the 18th is said by Cheyne and others to belong to the post-captivity times. At any rate common justice demands that before the critics assert that Jonah copied from one or more of these psalms they should prove that on the basis of their own theory they have good reason for maintaining that the psalms in question were written before the book of Jonah. In view of the great variety of opinion among literary critics as to the date of the psalms from which the author of Jonah 2 is said to be so full of reminiscences, we are reminded of the words of Dr. Driver: "In case of two similar passages, the difficulty to determine which is the one that is dependent on the other, when we have no other clue to guide us is practically insuperable."14

On the other hand from the conservative point of view we should be quite prepared to find reminiscences in Jonah's psalm, without thereby questioning its originality or early date. The headings ascribe Pss. 3, 18, 30, 31 69 and 142 to David. At whatever date we place these headings, it must be acknowledged that they represent the opinion of the scribes by whom they were prefixed. Further, of the headings in general it may be said that they must have been affixed long before the date of the earliest versions of the psalms; because the meaning of many of the terms employed in them was already unknown. when these versions were made. When such eminent literary critics as Ewald, Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, DeWette, Schrader and Schultz with just the same evidence before them as that which we possess today, admit that Ps. i8 is a composition of David, the seven alleged reminiscences which Dr. Driver produces from this psalm as showing the late date of Jonah 2 may justly be ruled out of court. Eleven out of the fourteen reminiscences which Dr. Driver cites are in Psalms which the titles claim as Davidic.

(2) But while we believe that Jonah 2 was written after most of the psalms indicated by Dr. Driver we also believe that it would be difficult or impossible to prove, except possibly in one or two instances, that he was consciously or unconsciously influenced by the earlier psalms. In order to show this clearly to our readers, the alleged reminiscences and marks of dependence will now be discussed seriatim.

Jonah 2:3. This verse seems to contain a formidable array of reminiscences. It will be seen that they are all based upon the fact that the author of Jonah makes use of the same words and phrases that are found in certain psalms, or elsewhere. A closer examination, however, will disclose the further fact that most of the resemblances noted are not reminiscent of particular passages of Scripture, but that they are due to the limitations of the vocabulary of the Hebrew language. For, surely, no intelligent critic would assert that the early Hebrews did not address their gods, or God, in prayer. And, if they did, it is no less certain that they must have had the language of prayer. Among such words are those for pray, ask, call unto, and cry unto, and their corresponding words for hear and answer. In ordinary prose, one only of the words for pray and one of those for hear would be used; but in poetry, owing to the parallelism (i.e. repetition of the same idea in different words) which characterizes Hebrew poems, we would expect to find two synonymous words to denote the request and two to denote the response.

Now, this is exactly what we find in the beginning of Jonah's poem. He calls and God answers. He cries and God hears. Of the four words used, the words for call, answer and hear are the commonest of all words in Hebrew to express these ideas. The fourth word shiww "to cry" is used in Hab. 1:2, Isa. 58:9, Lam. 3:8 and elsewhere only in the Psalms and Job,—in the former nine, in the latter, eight times. In the Psalms, it is used in 18:7, 42, 22:25, 28:2, 30:3, and 31:23, all of which, the headings ascribe to David. And, it is a fact arising from the nature of Hebrew psalmody, consisting largely of prayers, that both the other words for "to cry" are used in one or more of the psalms (זעק three times and צעק five times). The common words for pray and ask are also used in these psalms. Since to write Hebrew poetry at all, therefore, it was necessary to use two words, it is evident, that Jonah would seem to be reminiscent of the psalms no difference what word he selected. He could not have written a prayer in the best Hebrew poetry without using two words because of the parallelism, and he could not find two common words that do not occur in the psalms. This absurd conclusion is reached if we follow the writing of the critics that prayers in Hebrew poetical form cannot have been composed as early as the middle of the 8th century B.C.!

The alleged evidence of reminiscence in the phrase "by reason of my affliction (or better, "anguish") is even less apparent. This is the only place in the Hebrew Bible that it occurs. As to its use here, it is exactly descriptive of the circumstances, and perfectly clear as to meaning. It was not merely in his anguish, as Ps. i8:7 and Ps. 120:i express it; but out of his "narrow quarters" (R.V. "by reason of my affliction") that he called and cried. Further the word for affliction is felicitously chosen. Of the nine or ten words translated in the English Bible by "affliction," this is the only one in Hebrew that expresses just exactly the situation of Jonah. .

Verse 4 a, b. The only reminiscence found here by the critics is in the use of the one word "to go around" or "surround." This verb occurs in the literature which the critics themselves place in the 8th century, or earlier, in Hos. 7:2, 12:1, Gen. 2:11, 13, and elsewhere; and the form itself in Deut. 32:10. In no place in the O.T. is it used in the same sense as here. The nearest to it is Gen. 2:11, 13 where it speaks of rivers going around a certain land.

Verse 4c. The sentence, "all thy breakers and thy rollers passed over me," is exactly the same in Jonah as in Ps. 42:8, a psalm of the sons of Korah. Owing to its peculiar fitness to the experience of Jonah, it would seem most likely that Jonah is the original and the psalm the copy; though of course both may describe the common experiences of swimmers in the surf. The word for "pass over" is found in "Hosea, Amos, Micah and the parts of Isaiah which the critics call early. The word for "roller" is the common word for "wave" in Assyrian, Aramaic and Hebrew, and hence may be considered as the primitive Semitic word. The word for "breaker" occurs in the song of David recorded in 2 Sa. 22:5 and besides only in Pss. 88:8 and 93:4.15 It is not found in Arabic, Assyrian, Aramaic or New Hebrew.

Verse 5. The phrase "and I said" occurs in Ho. 2:25. Deut. 32:40, and in J in Gen. 24:43 and in E in Ex. 3:13; all from the 8th century or before, according to the dating of the critics.

Verse 5a. "I am (or, have been) cast out" seems in English to represent the same word in Hebrew as that which is found in Ps. 31:23 and in Lam. 3:54. But in Hebrew the word is different in all three places. Jonah has nigrashti: the psalm nirgzati; and Lamentations, nigzarti. The verb garash occurs in early literature among other places in Gen. 4:14 (J), Ex. 23:31 (E), Deut. 33:27, Ho. 9:15, Mi. 2:9 and Prov. 22:10; and in the same form as in Jonah in Am. 8:8 and Isa. 57:20. The form is never found in the Psalms, and the root only in Pss. 34:1, 78:55 and 80:9.

The phrase, "from before thine eyes," is found in Isa. 1:16 and Amos 9:3, both writers contemporaries of Jonah, and in Jer. 16:17. It is never found in the Psalms, but in its place we find "to before the eyes" in 5:6, 18:25, 26:3, 36:2 and 107:3, 7.

Verse 6a. The verb 'āfaf "to surround" is found only in Jon. 2:6, Pss. 18:5, 40:13, 116:3 and 2 Sam. 22:5 which is the same as Ps. 18:5. In Ps. 40:13, the object is preceded by the preposition 'al; in all the others it is suffixed and the forms are exactly alike. All but Ps. 116 are attributed in the headings to David.

It is worthy of remark also that the author of Jonah 2 was compelled in expressing the idea of "compass or surround" to use verbs which are found in the psalms; for all of such verbs occur there. What would the critics have had him do? He had either to invent or borrow a new word, or use one in current use. In accordance with the rule laid down in all rhetorics, he chose a good Hebrew word, one that expressed his Meaning clearly, fully and picturesquely.

The phrase, "waters unto soul," is found in Jonah 6a and Ps. 69:2 alone. The heading ascribes this psalm to David. It seems to be descriptive of a drowning man, and is certainly most appropriate to one in Jonah's position while in the sea. "Unto soul" (the noun being without the article) occurs also in these two places alone.

Verse 6b. "The abyss (or sea) kept going around me" has its nearest parallel in Ps. 18:5 "the cords of Sheol went around me," where, however, the subject and the verbal form are both different. The verbal form occurs in Deut. 32:10; but in Jonah only with the subject here found. The two verbs for "go around" in this verse are the only two known to the Hebrew language and poets in every age must have used the two in parallel clauses, unless they repeated one of them, or used an antonym.

Verse 7b. The sentence, "and Thou hast brought up from destruction my life," is said to be a reminiscence of Ps. 30:4, "O Jehovah, Thou hast brought up from Sheol my soul" in which one word only is the same. This word seems in English to be exactly the same in both, but in Hebrew one is in the perfect and the other in the imperfect with Waw. This word is met with in all the works of the 8th and preceding centuries, as is also the word for "life." The Hebrew word for "destruction" occurs in Isa. 38:17 and 51:14, Prov. 26:27, and in Ezek. 19:4 and 28:8, in addition to seven times in Job and nine times in the Psalms, seven times in Psalms attributed in the headings to David. The phrase "brought up from Sheol" occurs only in Job 33:30, though "going down to the pit" is found in Job 33:28, Ezek. 28:8 and three times in the Psalms.

Verse 8. In verse 8, only the separate words are found anywhere else in the O. T. The phrase "at the overwhelming" is found only in Lam. 2:12 and in four psalms, two of them ascribed in the headings to David. The root translated overwhelm is found in Babylonian and in Gen. 10:42 (J). All the other words of the verse are used certainly in or before the 8th century B.C., but not one of them in connection with the verb "to overwhelm." In 8b only the ordinary word for "come" and the conjunction "and" are the same.

Verse 9. In verse 9a, "they that observe lying vanities" looks exactly like a clause in Ps. 31:6; but in the Hebrew only the last two words are the same. In Jonah the first word is in the intensive participle and in the Psalm it is in the participle of the simple stem. The words for lying vanities are found together only in these two places; though each of the words separately is found in the earliest literature. Besides, Ps. 31 is ascribed in the heading to David.

Verse 10. The words used by Jonah in this verse are all found in the literature of the 8th century or before. Their combination into phrases is unique, and the ideas expressed are appropriate to the occasion and embodied in the most approved classical form. If this kind of writing is reminiscent, then all good writing is reminiscent. It means no more than that a writer uses the vocabulary and style that are suitable to his age, his language, and his ideas.

Reviewing, then, the style of Jonah 2 on the ground of what the critics say, we find that only one sentence of four' words and one clause of two words are the same as those found elsewhere in the literature of the Old Testament. The sentence referred to is from a psalm ascribed to the sons of Korah and may be a citation from Jonah; the phrase is from a psalm ascribed to David and may have been adapted from it by Jonah. The situation and the context both argue in favor of the origination with Jonah" of the sentence "all thy breakers and thy rollers have passed over me." The phrase, or compound word, "lying vanities," recalls the third commandment of the Decalogue, given by the critics to E, and Hosea 10:4, 12:11 and Isa. 1:13 from the lifetime of Jonah.

It would not be right to close this discussion of the style of Jonah 2 without calling attention to the peculiarities which the critics ignore. We refer to the wonderful manner in which the author makes use of well known words to express his new and varied ideas and experiences. The critics speak only of the resemblances to other writings. Let us look at some of the differences.

Phrases that are found in the O.T. in this chapter only are: "belly of Sheol," "in the heart of the seas," "a river compassed me," "I have been cut oft" "I will add to look ' at thy holy temple," "waters have compassed me into (the) soul," "seaweed is bound to my head," "the abyss (tehom) compassed me," "thou hast cast me into the pit" (meula), "my prayer came unto thee," "those observing lying vanities," "forsake their own mercy," "the clefts of the mountains," "the bars of the earth," "brought up from destruction my life," "when my soul was overwhelmed (fainted) within me," "I will sacrifice with the voice of thanksgiving," and "that which I have vowed I will pay."

That is, only one sentence of Jonah 2 is ever found elsewhere.

Less evidence of plagiarism, imitation, or reminiscence can scarcely be found in any literary production written in the same language as another. Like well made clothing, the words and style of the author fit his subject so closely and harmonize so beautifully, that attached to any other subject they would have seemed out of place and out of harmony with their age and surroundings.

II. We turn now to Prof. Cornill's additional marks of dependence.

Jonah 3:9a. As to whether the writer of this verse borrowed the phrase "who knoweth etc." from Joel 2:14a or vice versa, may justly be left in abeyance as long as critics differ by about five hundred years as to the time when either of them was written. Moreover, even if the dates could be fixed with certainty, how can we be sure that one or both of them may not have borrowed from a third writer whose work has been lost? The critics all argue as if we had in our possession all of the literature that was known to the writers of the canonical books, and this in spite of the fact that the canonical books contain references to many works that have long since perished. Besides, such phrases as this one in Jonah 3:9a may well have been common in any liturgical system, where the gods were approached in prayer.16 The Assyrian king may have used it "just as well as the Hebrew prophet.17 Why else did he, or any one, pray at all, if not in the hope that his god would confer a favor, or turn from his wrath?

Jonah 4:2c. It is true that in several phrases this passage in Jonah agrees exactly with Joel 2:13, Ex. 34:6, Ps 86:15, and Ps 103:8; but until the date of these verses in Joel, Exodus, and the Psalms has been fixed, it is unreasonable to affirm who borrowed from the others. Since Dr. Driver assigns Ex. 34:6 to JE18 a work which was finished by 750 B.C.,19 Jonah may certainly have borrowed from it. But, on their theory, he could not have borrowed from Ps. 86:15, since Reuss and Cheyne place this psalm in the Maccabean period.20 The narrative of Exodus says that these words describing the character of Jehovah are a revelation by Himself of Himself, and that this revelation took place at Sinai. Even if this were not the fact, it would most probably be a very old description of Jehovah by his worshippers, and one known to all his priests and prophets. Does Prof. Cornill really think that, if this description of Jehovah was not revealed by Himself at Sinai, he or any other man knows enough to tell us who invented or imagined it? Can he not see that even if we could determine the date at which each portion of the canonical Scriptures in which it occurs was written, this would not show that every phrase in the description had not been used for hundreds of years before it was ever written down at all? Let us get rid of the absolutely unscientific view of the Hebrew language and literature which would lead us to believe that new words were invented by the writers in whose works they first appear, that present day critics can determine the date and origin of every extraordinary phrase, and that the boundaries of the literary horizon of the Old Testament writers must be limited to the narrow circle of the canonical books.

Jonah 4:58. When we come to Prof. Cornill's statement that "the story in Jonah 4 of the marvellous tree is obviously imitated from the narrative in 1 Kings 19 of Elijah under the juniper tree in the wilderness," one can scarcely decide whether Prof. Cornill means to be serious or facetious. The two stories are alike in that both the prophets were displeased with Providence, both sought shelter from the sun, both wished to die, and both were rebuked and assisted by God. It is true, also, as Dr. Driver remarks, that "in form and contents the book of Jonah resembles the biographical narratives of Elijah and Elisha."21 But these resemblances are due to likeness of circumstance and perhaps to sameness of authorship, and not "obviously" to imitation. Similar events in different men's lives may be due to imitation, but more commonly they are owing to the fact that they both belong to the genus homo, or some species of the same, and that they are subject to the same, or a similar, environment. A spider may just as well have spun its web for Tamerlane and Robert Bruce as for Muhammed. Jerusalem and Babylon were many times besieged. Herodotus, the Koran, Victor Hugo,—all are full of scores of similar events in the lives of men and nations, without any obvious imitations being involved. Human nature and physical nature within the same limitations of time and place often produce very similar results. This does not prove imitation but is simply the effect of likeness of nature and similarity of circumstance.

So, with the similar events in the lives of Elijah and Jonah. Both were men of the same class and time, called upon to perform disagreeable duties. Both were disappointed in the results of their mission. Both sought to escape from an unwilling service. Each found himself under the midday sun and sought for shade beneath a convenient shelter. Neither could escape from God and duty. God intervened in the case of each and taught through them for all time and to all men the great lessons of his providence and grace. Yet in all this there is no "obvious imitation." There are simply two similar descriptions of similar causes producing similar effects.

Jonah 3:10. That Jonah presupposes the thought and teaching of the great prophets is alleged to be shown by the fact that 3:id reflects the thought and tenor of Jeremiah 18:7f. It is admitted that the teaching of Jonah 3:id and that of Jer. 18:7 is the same and that it is expressed in much the same phraseology. But does this show that one copied from the other or that Jonah copied front Jeremiah? The question is whether Jonah is older than Jeremiah, or Jeremiah older than Jonah. This can be shown, from the standpoint of literary criticism, not by the points in which they agree, but by those wherein they differ. In the points in which they agree each may have adopted his ideas from his predecessors. As has been shown in the preceding section, the idea of supplicating the gods that they might change their evil intentions with regard to their suppliants must have been common to all who prayed. So, also, must have been the idea that the suppliants would cease from the evil that had offended the deity. That two of the prophets should have expressed these ideas in similar language is not surprising. It is more surprising that it is not more frequently so expressed.

II. A full answer to the second assumption that "Pss. 142, 143 and 144:1-11 in like manner consist of reminiscences," would require an article of itself. Suffice it to say that since Dr. Driver makes all of these psalms postexilic and perhaps late post-exilic22 and other critics place them in Maccabean times,23 it is absurd to argue that a psalm composed in the fifth century (among the earliest of all the psalms according to the judgment of the critics) should have been composed in the same manner as the latest. One can understand how late writers may have had reminiscences of the earlier; but it is asking too much when we are required to believe that the earlier are full of reminiscences of the later!

III. We would like to know what grounds Dr. Driver had. for asserting that "a psalm from Jonah's own age would certainly have been more original." For him and his followers, there are no other psalms from Jonah's own age. Their grounds of certainty, therefore, are entirely subjective, and hence not worthy of consideration in a serious discussion where we are getting at the facts through evidence. As to what degree and kind of originality he expected to find in such a composition, we are at a loss to conjecture. The evidence shows that few passages in the Old Testament are so full of extraordinary phrases and apex legonmia. The subject is absolutely unique. The personal experiences of the author are unparallelled in literature or history. Many of the statements and figures are met with nowhere else in any language or literature. In our opinion, there is nothing more original in all the range of literature from the composition of the Book of the Dead to some of the prewar productions of Mr. H. G. Wells. The stories about the creation, the Rood, Joseph, Moses in the bulrushes, Samson, the romantic courtships of Rebecca and Ruth, the treasons of Rahab and Jael, the lament over Saul, the paeans of Miriam, Deborah and Isaiah, may all be parallelled; but the idea of a descent to the bottom of the sea inside a fish and a description of the experience of the recumbent and unwilling denizen of its narrow quarters is without parallel, prexistent similitude, or imitation.

IV. As to Dr. Driver's expectation of more antique coloring in a poem from the eighth century B.C., it is entirely without justification. The eighth century was the age of Hosea, Amos, Micah and Isaiah, and Dr. Driver says that many of the best critics date J and E just before 750 B.C.24 Now, of the 24 verbal forms found in Jonah 2, every one is found among his contemporaries; as, also, every root to which these forms belong except one. As to the nouns, moreover, every form occurs in other literature from the same century, except one, and all of the very words except one hapax legomenon, and two or three other words at most. The words for waves (lit. breakers) and billows (lit. rollers) would not be mentioned in the other literature of the 8th century, because neither seas nor storms of the seas are even mentioned; the word for vanities occurs in 2 K. 17 which gives a history of the fall of Samaria in the 8th century B.C.; and the word for destruction, in Prov. 2625 which Dr. Driver ascribes to a period before the time of Hezekiah i.e. before 700 B.C. The particles also of Jonah 2 are all used in early literature.

Consequently, only three words or forms in Jonah 2 are not to be found in the literature which Dr. Driver ascribes to the eighth century or before, towit,: התעטף ,קצב and ישׁועתה. The first of these is found twice besides in the description of the temple in 2 Kings 6 in the sense of extremity, or end. If taken in the sense of cleft it is a hapax legomenon, and no argument as to date can be based upon it. The root of the second word is found twice in J in Gen. 3o:42; but in the form and figurative sense employed in Jonah, it occurs only in four psalms, two of which, the 142nd and 143rd, the critics put in post-captivity times (even as late as the Maccabean); but the Bible headings ascribe to David. In the 77th, 142nd and 143rd Psalms, the spirit is said to have been faint or overwhelmed within one; in Ps. 107 and Jonah 3 the same is said of the soul. Only one other word is used in the Old Testament for "faintness of soul," to wit, מוג in Ps. 107:26;26 and only one other כהה 27 (Ezek. 21:7 Isa. 61:3) for "faintness of spirit," the latter not used in the psalms.

Evidently, then, there is not much choice of vocabulary in Hebrew in which Jonah could express his feelings. He uses the more specific and the stronger word of a possible two. Surely his situation justified the use. Surely, also, no one would claim that the use of this strong word to express the predicament of his soul while he was in the belly of the whale was not appropriate to the circumstances. It is a reminiscence not of some other man's thought, but of his own poignant feelings, and it took no 3qq years to make it up.

The third word יושׁעתה is found already in Ex. 15 and in the same connection and sense as in Jonah 2. The only difference is in the ending which has what grammarians used to call the H paragogic or what is now more properly called the accusative ending. The reader may know that originally all of the Semitic languages had case endings, such as are still to be found in the Arabic of the Koran. The Babylonian has preserved these endings in a more or less chaotic condition, and the Old Testament in like manner gives us sporadic examples of their use in the endings , and ā. This last ending was originally an accusative. In the literature of the eighth century it is found in Hos. 8:7, 10:13, Ex. 15:16 and Isa. 8:23. The "coloring" therefore of the word is just antique enough for the eighth century B.C. when Jonah is said to have lived as a contemporary to Hosea and Isaiah.

The use of the relative še in Jon. 2 can hardly be considered as a mark indicative of a late or post-captivity date, inasmuch as it occurs in Jud. 5 which the critics generally assert to be the oldest literary composition in the Old Testament.

So then in view of the above facts, we conclude that the Hebrew of Jonah is of the proper coloring for the lifetime of Jonah, the son of Amittai, who prophesied in the age of Jeroboam II about 700 B.C. Its vocabulary and grammatical peculiarities are in harmony with Hosea, Amos, Micah and Isaiah, the other great writers of that century whose works have come down to us. The style is classical, and neither antique nor late. If anyone would differ, let him bring up the proofs.

V. The fifth assumption, that Jonah 2 shows "marks of the latest lyrical poetry" is made by Prof. Cornill at the close of his section on Jonah.28 Since in his long discussion he gives us none of these "marks," it is impossible for us to investigate them. We can only say that since Prof. Cornill himself asserts that there are lyrical portions of the . Psalter from the Maccabean times and since he further asserts that only in Chronicles and the latest parts of the prophetic writings do we meet with the psalm-style,29 he should logically place Jonah in Maccabean times. But, as a matter of fact, he puts the date of Jonah towards the end of the Persian, perhaps even in the Greek period.30 Again, if it is "only in Chronicles and the latest part of the prophetic writings" that we find a psalm-style, how can Jonah show marks of the latest lyrical poetry, since for the date of Chronicles we are "carried with absolute certainty into the Greek period—perhaps, the first half of the third century"?31 Lastly, if with Reuss and Cheyne Ps. 86 is put in the Maccabean period, how can Jonah 4:2 have been written in the fourth century, as Prof. Cornil1 says, and have been "dependent" on a psalm written in the second?

VI. "The general thought and tenor of the book, which presupposes the teaching of the great prophets." This is a favorite argument of the critics of the Old Testament.32 It is, however, at best but an opinion. It is stated in different words by Dr. Driver when he attempts to show that Isaiah 24:27 could not have been written by Isaiah because "there are features in the representation and contents of the prophecies which seem to spring out of a different (and later) vein of thought from Isaiah's"33 In Micah 6:1-7:6 "a difference of tone and manner" tell against the identity of author.34 In Zechariah, the "dominant ideas and representations" of Chap. 18 are thought to militate against the identity of authorship of the rest of the book.35 Such allegations leave out of sight the experiences of literature and the divine element in revelation. As to dominant ideas, compare the lives of Paul, Augustine, Luther and Romanes before and after their conversion. As to change of manner and representation, compare the different works of Browning, Carlyle and Johnson. As for a "different vein of thought," most people expect and prefer a slight occasional change in an author. As the proverb says: Shakespeare never repeats. Some may like the composition of those who are always harping on one string; but most prefer the instrument of ten strings, the organ with many pipes and stops, the orchestra and the Philharmonic. When Carlyle's gospel of work becomes tiresome, one turns to the French Revolution. The variety of Boswell is more dclightfu1 than the monotonous sameness of Rasselas. The' new veins that are supposed to lie hid in Browning keep the observant reader in joyful anticipation of the expected find. Why should we expect none but biblical writers to be dull, monotonous, and commonplace? Why may Isaiah not have had a "new vein of thought" occasionally, just to relieve the monotony of existence? Why should all of the prophets have thought only the same thoughts that they always had thought?

My dear readers, this sounds ridiculous, does it not? But just drop your reverence for learned professors for a moment and think for yourself. Is it not laughable that self-appointed inquisitors and judges should attempt to decide what the prophets of Israel may have thought about some two or three thousand years ago? Is it not absurd that they should attempt to assign these thoughts to an appropriate half century of birth? Is it not presumption approaching blasphemy for them to attempt to decide on the ground of tone, manner and veins of thought, as to when and how God's messages of light and love may first and best have been made known to man?

VII. "The non-mention of the name of the Assyrian King who plays such a prominent part in c. 3, may be taken as an indication that it was not known to the author of the book."

This argument depends upon a very superficial reading of the book. Jonah was not sent with a message to a particular king as Elisha was sent to Jehu and to Hazael. He was not even sent to the King of Assyria. He was sent to warn Nineveh, that great city with 120,000 souls that knew not their right hand from the left. Jonah did not warn the king especially, as Elijah did Ahab, or Nathan, David, or Jeremiah, Jehoiakim. His message was: Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be destroyed. It was the Ninevites who heard and repented. It was the nobles as well as the king who decreed the fasting and sackcloth. It was as king of Nineveh, and not as a king named So and So that the king acted. Analogies to the omission of the name of the king can be found in the story of Naaman, where the king whom he served is called simply the king of Syria (2 K. 5:1, 5) and in the fact that Isaiah frequently refers to the "king of Assyria" without mentioning his name, as also does Nahum (3:15). The king is most probably called simply the king of Nineveh because the message was to Nineveh especially, and because Nineveh with its palaces and walls and moats and temples was the capita], "the house of the kingdom," the visible representation of the glory and pride and sin of the whole kingdom.

Or, it may be that at the time of Jonah's mission, the kingdom of Assyria had been practically reduced in size until it comprised little more than the city of Nineveh. Jonah, the son of Amittai, lived in the reign of Jeroboam II who reigned from about 780 to 740 B.C. This fell in the period between Adad-Nirari III and Tiglath-Pileser III who began to reign in 745 B.C. During the time from 783 to 745 four kings are known to have reigned over Assyria, but the Assyrian records from this time consist only of a lion's weight and one contract tablet, and a list from the time of Ashurbanipal of the eponymns of Nineveh. The eponym list shows that from 765 to 743 B.C. the kingdom of Assyria and the city of Nineveh were in a state of almost continuous insurrection, pestilence and commotion,36

Besides, the Hebrew word for king may mean no more than governor,37 but the main point is that the name had nothing to do with the messages nor with the results, nor with the purpose and teaching of the prophecy.

It must be remembered also that in the eighth century ' B.C., most kings were entitled after their capital city. From Hammurabi down the kings of Shumer and Accad, whatever the extent of their kingdom, were called usually by the simple title, "king of Babylon." The Israelites called the kings of Damascus, kings of Aram; but the Assyrian documents call them kings of Damascus.38 The prophets call Ahab, Jehu, Menahem, et al., kings of Israel; but the Assyrian documents commonly call them kings of the city of Samaria.39 Pharaoh Necho is always called king of Egypt in the documents from Egypt and Israel, but Ashurbanipal in his Annals calls him, king of the city of Memphis. The book of Ecclesiastes speaks of Solomon as king in (or over) Jerusalem, though the other records call him king of Israel.

Further, it is not said that the king of Assyria or his subjects called him king of Nineveh. It is a title given him by a foreigner who was a Jew. It is not necessary to suppose that the emperor of the East, residing at Constantinople, called himself king of Rome, nor that the Mukaikus in Egypt called himself king of Alexandria, because Muhammed addressed letters to these rulers calling them respectively by these titles.40

Further, the manner in which Nineveh is spoken of in 3:3 is said to be inconceivable in the case of an author of the time of Jeroboam II, i.e., about 750 B.C.

Two questions are involved in Jonah's statement; first the size of Nineveh, and secondly, the use, by the author of the book, of the Hebrew perfect form of the verb "to be" (היה) in his description of the city.

(1) Already in the eighth century41 Nineveh is used as always in the Old Testament as the name of the capital of Assyria. This name included Calḥi and the other parts of that great four-fold city which served the great kings Shalmaneser I, Ashurnaṣirpal and Shalmaneser II as the seat of their empire,—a position which it still held in the time of Adad-Nirari, whom, in the words of Winckler,42 "Jonah found at Nineveh when he went there."

(2) As to the use of the perfect form, the question is whether it could mean "has been and is," or must mean "was." We have the authority of De Sacy, the greatest of grammarians of Arabic, for affirming the former43 of kna, the Arabic equivalent of היה and his opinion is supported by Lane, the greatest of the lexiographers, who makes the statement: the "kna divested of all signification of time, is often used as a copula."44

This usage of the perfect for "has been and is" is common in Hebrew usage as well as in the Arabic. Gesenius defines its use as "expressing facts which were accomplished long before, but of which the effects still remain in the present."45 Thus, Ps. 10:11 "he hideth his face." Perfects of verbs denoting a state or condition are frequently used in this sense.46 The verb hāyā "to be" is used in this sense in Jud. 17:133, 2 Sa. 13:35, 1 K. 6:17, 8:18, Isa. 1:21, 22, Ps. 22:15, 89:42 et al.

However, as this verse consists of a compound nominal sentence and is introduced by Waw explicatiuum, (Le. explanatory and), it is possible that it is a later note interpolated into the original text by an editor or scribe. The simple or compound nominal sentence is the form in use in Hebrew to denote a parenthetical note, or description. Such parentheses are common in the Hebrew literature of all periods.

It is a noteworthy fact, moreover, that most of the statements that the early critics of the Pentateuch considered to be objections to its Mosaic origin, are to be found in sentences of this kind, such as "these remain unto this day," "and the omer is the tenth part of an ephah," "his bedstead was a bedstead of iron," "Moses was very meek."47 Compare also, the compound nominal sentences in Deut. 2:10 (describing the Emims),' and in Num. 31:53.

Certainly, those who, like the critics of the Wellhausen school, believe in so many editors and redactors for nearly all the books, will scarcely insist on impugning the authenticity of Jonah because of. one little verse! Nor will those who have studied Old Testament textual criticism deny the probability of some such additions to the original text of Jonah. Nor will those who admit the insertion into the New Testament of the passages concerning the three witnesses, the woman taken in adultery, and the last verses of Mark, without thereby impugning the integrity and genuineness of the rest of the works that contain these insertions, presume to assail the whole book of Jonah, because one short sentence may have been inserted into it by a later hand. Like the addition to Mark and the story of the woman taken in adultery, the addition may be just as true as the original. No one will dispute the trustworthiness of the statement that in the time of Jonah "Nineveh was an exceeding great city."


This detailed examination of the evidence produced by the critics ,in support of their allegations that the Book of Jonah cannot have been written in the lifetime of Jonah, the son of Amittai, has shown that in not a single specification is the evidence convincing. Not a single statement as to diction, style, ideas, or historical allusions, will stand the test of a complete induction and comparison. The most that can be said for any single item is that it is possible, but not one is supported by even one assured witness. The testimony of the Book of Jonah as to its origin and facts stands unimpeached. Its diction, its style, its ideas, and its historical references, agree with what we know of the eighth century B.C. and with what the book affirms as to the time of its composition. Those who assail it must confine themselves to its accounts of miracles, predictions, and divine interventions. At all such assaults the Christian will sniff and He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh. For in these days of surgeon's wonders and submarines' achievements and Burbank's experiments, it is a bold man who will attempt to set limits to the subtleties of the All-wise or to affix bounds to the Almighty Maker and Preserver of all things. Christus creator, Christus revelator, Christus consummator I "Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven, or canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?"


Robert Dick Wilson.



1) cf. The Princeton Theological Review, April, 1918, p. 280-298.

2) This subject has been fully treated in Article I.

3) L O T, p. 322.

4) Einleilung, p. 464.

5) Introduction to the Caonicu1 Books of the Old Testament, p. 339.

6) Id., p. 337.

7) L O T, p. 385-6.

8) Id., p. 384

9) Id., p. 123.

10) As to Joshua, Dr. Driver says:"First, the compiler of JE (or a kindred hand), utilizing older materials, completed his work; this was afterwards amplified by the elements contributed by D":finally, the whole thus formed was combined with P" (LOT. 114). Since P" belongs approximately to the period of the Babylonian captivity" (LOT. p. 136) or to "the century from 570 to 458" (Cornill, p. 112), Joshua could not have been composed till this late period. Judges, also, according to Comil1, was a combination of preexisting materials by J and E, with a Deuteronomic frameword, enlarged by a later hand dependent on P (Introduction, pp. 177, i78). Samuel is more largely the work of J and E (Cornill, id., p. 189, 201) "with the exception of a small residuum, the contents can be apportioned between J and E" (id., p. 201) "though a time limit for the fixing of the present form of Samuel is furnished by Chronicles" (id., p. 202). The books of Kings consist of an "Epitome," which is the work of the compiler about 600 B.C. (LOT. p. 188, 199) and derived by him from the chronicles of the Kings, and of narrations, whose "authors were in all probability prophets," and which "appear in most cases to have been transferred by the compiler to his work without material alteration" (id. p. 188, 189). 

11) LOT. pp. 302, 316, 326-334, 205-230, and 405.

11a) The numberings of verses in these citations are those of the Hebrew Bible.

12) LOT. p. 323.

13) Id., p. 383.

14) Id., p. 383.

15) Ps. 88 is ascribed to the sons of Korah; Ps. 93 has no heading.

16) The two principal words of this phrase שׁיב and נחם are found together in Isa. 12:1; and the idea expressed in the two words is found in Mi. 7:19 in the phrase, turn away and have compassion.

17) Especially if this king was Adad-Nirari and his religion was, as Winckler says in his History of Babylonia axd Assyria, p. 232, quite different from the prevailing state religion, and a monotheistic one whose essential tenet was expressed in the inscription of his major-domo: "Put thy trust in Nebo; trust not in another God."

18) LOT. p. 38.

19) Id. p. i23.

20) Id. p. 387, 388.

21) LOT. p. 322.

22) LOT. p. 385.

23) Id., p. 387-8.

24) LOT. p. 123.

25) Of the passage in Prov. 25-29, Dr. Driver says (LOT. p. 407): "The title (25:1), the accuracy of which there is no reason to question, is an indication that the proverbs which follow were reputed in Hezekiah's age to be ancient."

26) This word is commonly employed for "faintness of heart" for which we find also four other words.

27) Commonly used to denote "dimness of the eyes." A different word from all these is employed for "faintness of hand."

28) Introduction, pp. 336-339.

29) Id., p. 399.

30) Id., p. 339.

31) Id., p. 228.

32) See above, p. 444 f.

33) LOT. p. 220.

34) Id., p. 333.

35) Id., p. 354

36) This list (Keilihschriftliche Bibliothek I. 210-213; Rogers Cuneiform Parallels, p. 233 f) records a pestilence (mutanu) in the year 765; an eclipse of the sun in 763; insurrections (siḥu) in 763, 762, 76t 760, 7591 746, 745, and a massacre (diktam) in 743.

37) See articles by thc writer on the Titles of Kings in Antiquity in this Review for 1905-6, and special articles on the Titles of the King of Persia in the Denkschrift Eduard Sachau, Berlin, i9i5, and in this REVIEW for January, I917.

38) KB. I. 140, 142, 172.

39) Annals of Tiglath Pileser (KB. II. 51) but Shalmaneser III (KB. I. 173) calls Ahab, king of Israel.

40) Ibn Hisham's Life of Muhammed, p. 971.

41) Gen. 10:11 is assigned by the critics to J.

42) History of Babylon and Assyria, p. 232.

43) Arab. Gram. I. S. 196.

44) Arabic-English Lexicon, p. 3004.

45) Gram. 116. 2. g.

46) Id., CB. Ps. 104; I gādaltā, thou art great.

47) Comp. Ex. 6:26, 27.