Who was the author? Tradition ascribes the book to the prophet Jonah, whose name means "dove" and who was the son of Amittai and from Gath Hepher.
What is the book? The book of Jonah is a historical, literal account of a single prophetic mission that took Jonah to the ends of the known world as he first resisted but eventually fulfilled that mission of calling the city of Nineveh to repent.
Where was it written? Identifying precisely where the book was written is difficult, but, given Jonah's origin in the northern kingdom of Israel (or Samaria) and the dating that follows, it may well have been written there.
When was it written? Jonah probably prophesied around 775-750, but at the latest the book would likely have been written before the fall of Samaria to Assyria (722-721 B.C.), although some ascribe its record of oral tradition to others at a later time.
Why? The book of Jonah is one of the clearest showings-forth of God's grace for all people, not just the Jews.
How? At the Holy Spirit's inspiration, the book gives a compact and vivid narrative, uses symmetry for comparison and contrast, and uses representative roles to give its bring to life Israel's jealousy and God's love and concern for the Gentiles. Similarly, Jonah's own experience prophetically points to that of our Lord.
For further reading on the book of Jonah:
- Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume X: Minor Prophets , translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted March 1986. (There are some 39 pages on Jonah.)
- Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 5 pages on Jonah.)