I. Jonah’s Journey—1:1-1:17
i. Instructed to go to Nineveh—1:1-2
ii. Jonah’s defiance of Yahweh’s command—1:3
iii. The brutal storm unveils the truth—1:4-10
iv. The elimination of the storm—1:11-16
v. Jonah gulped up by a big fish—1:17
II. Jonah’s Prayer While in the Fish—2:1-10
vi. Prophet prays and makes a vow—2:1-9
vii. Yahweh spurs fish to spit out Jonah—2:10
III. Jonah’s Preaching and the People’s Remorsefulness—3:1-10 viii. Jonah told to go to Nineveh—3:1-2
ix. Jonah’s brief teaching—3:3-4
x. The repentant behavior of the Ninevites—3:5-9
xi. God’s sudden mindset reversal—3:10
IV. Jonah’s Anger
xii. Jonah’s selfish request to Yahweh—4:1-3
xiii. Jonah’s madness inclines God to come to the rescue—4:4-6 xiv. Worm and sun’s effect on the man—4:7-8
xv. God’s castigation of Jonah—4:9-11
The narrative of Jonah offers quite a unique, diverse structure to the reader. The fundamental plotline of this particular book falls into a clean, simplistic four-phase arrangement, as presented in the outline above. The entire book of Jonah is rather compact in nature is nevertheless prophetic, while offering up a moral as well, causing considerable debate in terms of whether or not it is a parable (Hill and Walton 630; Breckner 30-31). The book, on the other hand, can also be viewed as satirical, and is, in essence, a book highlighting details on ways prophets should not behave. Jonah is primarily written in prose, although the second chapter is composed in the form of a psalm or poem in which the prophet was praying to Yahweh. The story flows pretty well for the author really allows one to grasp the message portrayed while being sure to incorporate a vast quantity of action and vivid, picturesque language throughout the work to keep the reader interested as they browse through the text. Moreover, in the midst of all of the imagery that is displayed, there is an overall high maintenance of action throughout this excerpt, for Jonah is certainly a bit of an adventurer (Ryken, Wilhoit, and Longman 458). Throughout Jonah, the reader also gets a scoop of the abundance of superlative language that is used throughout the short book. To elaborate on this, certain words such as “great” are widely utilized in Jonah well over a dozen different times, proving the narrative’s appeal to many and the exceptional quality of the tale being told (Bruckner 30). As one can tell, Jonah is a relatively easy-to-read narrative, yet it still manages to occupy a powerful, riveting structure that enables those who read the text to facilely comprehend the story.
The historical setting regarding the minor prophet Jonah is very intriguing. The book of Jonah, whose main character is the son of a man named Amittai, does not have a precise date of composition ascribed to it, although persuasive arguments indicate that it was likely written between the eighth and fourth centuries BC. Widespread scholarship postulates that it was completed between the fifth and fourth century time frame, yet there is a possibility that it could have been finished as early as 770 BC during Jonah’s lifetime. Another believable date is 612 BC, the year in which the city of Nineveh was destroyed (Bruckner 26). On the flip side of the coin, A Survey of the Old Testament appears to be confident that the events in Jonah were situated around the first half of the eighth century BC (Walton and Hill 631). Regardless of these arguments and whoever the book was first addressed to, it is perceivable that some sort of divinely given mission was clearly in action, confirming Yahweh’s profound concern for humanity.
Nevertheless, in spite of debates surrounding when the book was completed, most can concur with the fact that Jonah was likely created in the midst of a time when the Assyrian Empire was no longer a major threat to...