The Book of Haggai


o unto thee, Bible fans! As always, this week’s BotB installment explores the murky backlog of the Old Testament — specifically, the final dozen books penned by the minor prophets (or as I like to call them, “Guess What God’s Angry About Now?” Parts One through Twelve). This time around we'll be examining what is probably the most famous of the minor prophet Books — sorry, Haggai — the Book of Jonah.

Whether or not you've read B of J, chances are you're at least peripherally aware of the plot: there's this guy named Jonah, stuff happens, dude gets swallowed by a whale, more stuff, the end. (Or maybe you're familiar with the tale in its current incarnation as Jonah: a VeggieTales Movie, a film that tries to indoctrinate children to the Bible's teachings through the seductive glamor of a talking asparagus.)

Prior to my research for this article, my awareness of the story started and ended with a childhood pop-up book where you got to feed Jonah to a whale by pulling on a paper tab. If done properly, onecould make it look like the whale was repeatedly barfing up Jonah before gobbling him back up again, barf and all. I don't mind telling you it was completely awesome.

My background reading on BoJ uncovered that scholars have found weightier things to take away from the story than the theological implications of a God allowing a whale to boomerang barf a man for eternity. BoJ, it seems, is an allegory about how bad it is to hog all the good news about Christ, and that god-fearing Christians owe it to heathens to tell them exactly how displeased God is with them at all times. Gosh, that's nice of them.

This is a lesson our hero Jonah learns firsthand — a lesson driven home while gobbling up room temperature shrimp from the dank floor of a whale's stomach. I'll give God this — He knows a thing or two about wearing down the resistance of His subjects before making any points. After three days sitting within a few feet of an intestinal tract the diameter of a school bus, I bet I'd be all ears too.

(Of note on said biblical scholars: a lot of them have gotten their vaginas in tight little knots over when the Book of Jonah was written, who wrote it, and whether or not it actually happened. There’s assloads of discussion on the subject if you actually care, but since I don’t you won't find it here. It was work enough just reading a story about a guy who lives in a whale for half a week because he made a universe-creating sky-god angry — I’m not humoring anyone by debating what time in the afternoon it all went down.)


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