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After all, Jesus supposedly said: The whole point of Jonah was not about God’s ability to conjure up man-swallowing fish; it was that Yahweh loves even the depraved folk of Nineveh (and their cattle).

The 6th century BC scribe who wrote Jonah used the name of a prophet mentioned in 2 Kings to make a point about the worthiness of evangelising to the heathen.

And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived."'Golden Mouth' John is notable for his extensive commentaries on the Bible which emphasized a literal understanding of the stories; the style popular at Alexandria until then was to acknowledge an allegorical meaning of the text.– supposedly uttered by the godman, a truly remarkable instance of total recall by the fabled octogenarian author!The authors of Christianity were fond of allegory and parable. Popularising a convoluted point of theology for the unlearned by an illustrative story gets the point across.Then, several generations later, when the story falls into the hands of the author of Matthew – who may well believe that the Jonah story is ‘true’ – he has his own fictional Christ figure quote Jonah to give authority to a different theological point: ‘death can be conquered.’ We see passages taken captive by your pen and pressed into service to win you a victory, which in volumes from which they are taken have no controversial bearing at all ...the line so often adopted by strong men in controversy – of justifying the means by the result.""Do you see the advantage of deceit? For great is the value of deceit, provided it be not introduced with a mischievous intention.The theological point could be made simply – ‘our god loves all who repent, don’t be reluctant, go and tell it to the heathen’ – but would that entertain the crowd?


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