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Is Jonah the Weirdest Book in the Bible?

Season 2: Episode 37
Is Jonah the Weirdest Book in the Bible?
Date Aired: 10/16/2023

Jonah and the whale (fish, technically) is one of the best-known Bible stories, but it’s also completely bonkers. It stars Jonah—the worst/best prophet ever—and reads more like a fable or satire than a serious biblical treatise. Were the authors of Jonah trying to be funny? And how the heck did this silly little fish tale become a beloved and meaningful narrative for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? To help unravel the mystery, Helen and Dave welcome back Eckart Frahm, author of the impressive new book, Assyria: The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Empire. Eckart shares a convincing theory that the Judaean authors of Jonah may have been inspired by a popular Assyrian legend.

Listen to the episode on the Biblical Time Machine website or wherever you get your podcasts.

Disclaimer: The Society of Biblical Literature is not responsible for the content of this podcast. The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Society of Biblical Literature, its members, or its staff.

  • The Biblical Time Machine Podcast is hosted by Helen Bond and Dave Roos. Helen Bond is professor of Christian origins at Edinburgh University. She is the author of Women Remembered: Jesus’s Female Disciples, The First Biography of Jesus: Genre and Meaning in Mark’s Gospel, and The Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed. Her research focuses on the social and political history of first century Judaea, the historical Jesus and the canonical gospels. Dave Roos is a journalist and writer who contributes to, HowStuffWorks and the popular podcast Stuff You Should Know. Dave has a degree in religious studies from Duke University.