This past week as we started exploring the book of Jonah and as we did we discussed whether or not this book is to be read as a historical account, a parable, an allegory, or a combination of all three.
Most critical research I read, including typical rabbinical criticism, categorizes this story as a parable. The person of Jonah (a real prophet in Israel- see 2 Kings 14:25) seems to have had this legendary story that surrounds him. As we progress through the story, what we will find is that this story is less about Jonah and more about Israel itself.
That said, here is some information about the 3 subjects discussed in the sermon this week:
1. Biblical Inerrancy- Christian believe that the Bible is inerrant, or without error. The Doctrine of Inerrancy states that the Bible, as originally inspired by the Holy Spirit and transmitted to the authors, was written down by those authors without error. What that does not mean is that our Bibles, as copies of copies of copies past down over centuries, is without error. Our Bible may contain, and probably does, textual errors.
2. Infallibility- Christians say that the Bible is infallible. What this means is that the Bible, and the story of salvation that it tells, is without fault. The standard of infallibility is higher than the standard of Inerrancy because infallibility states that the Bible is without fault in the truth propositions it reports. Inerrancy states that the text given to the original authors (of which we have none) is without error.
3. Literalism- Some Christians, because of a misunderstanding concerning inerrancy, think that because the Bible is without fault it must be taken literally. This is known as biblical literalism. However, as shown in this week's sermon, the Bible contains much information that is not to be taken literally. Psalms, metaphors, parables, etc are portions of the Bible which are supposed to convey moral or emotional information and not be taken as literally happening. We must be careful when examining the literature of the Bible to understand when we are reading something to be taken literally and something to be taken in a different way.
As we explore Jonah, keep these things in mind.- pk