Book of Jonas


A book of the Bible, comprising four chapters. Chapters 1 and 2 relate Jonas’s attempt to resist the order of God that he go to preach in Ninive, the capital of Assyria, and the story of his being swallowed by a great fish specially prepared by God. Chapters 3 and 4 record the accomplishment of his mission and the repentance of Ninive, Jonas is the prophet of God’s mercy upon the Gentile nations. The composition of the book was formerly ascribed to the prophet himself, but more recent scholars regard it as written after the destruction of Ninive in 612 BC. Moreover the quotations of psalms in the canticle of Jonas, and the language of the book, which contains Aramaisms, would rather indicate a date about 450 BC.

A few Catholic writers have taken the view that the story of Jonas is a parable and was intended to teach certain religious truths, e.g., that man is subject to God, that God in His mercy and goodness calls all men, even pagans, to salvation, etc., but the traditional view, commonly held by Catholics, is that it is a real history. On this point the Church continues the Jewish tradition which has always accepted this book as historic and canonic. Christ Himself proves its authenticity in Matthew, 12, when He puts several facts on the same line of truth: Jonas in the whale’s belly, the Judgment, the visit of the Queen of Saba to Solomon. The Book of Jonas is used in the Breviary on the Saturday of the fourth week in November, and in the Missal on the Monday in Passion Week. The tenth prophecy on Holy Saturday is taken from Jonas, 3:1-10.

MLA Citation

  • “Book of Jonas”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 6 February 2013. Web. 26 January 2022. <>