Date of Award
Dr. Joseph R. Dodson
Dr. Terry G. Carter
Dr. Myra Houser
Biblical authors often employ literary techniques to communicate their messages with enhanced force. They were not, for example, interested in theology or historiography alone, but also in aesthetics. In other words, their focus was not directed solely on simply presenting information, but also on how the material was presented literarily. Authors would utilize many techniques in their writing such as repetition, chiasms, and typology to connect stories, to emphasize themes, and to flesh out nuanced truths. This paper will argue that Luke, in the Book of Acts, implements the aesthetic technique of allusion and typology to enrich his narrative. More specifically, this paper will seek to demonstrate Luke’s portrayal of Paul as the anti-Jonah in Acts.
Typologies occur in biblical writing “when individuals or events in some manner foreshadow future people and events by describing parallel circumstances and the meanings that develop within them.” Or, as defined by J. Daniel Hays, typology is “a biblical event, person, or institution that serves as an example or pattern for other events, persons, or institutions.” Therefore, the use of typology is often an intentional connection made by the author between a character in the text and a prefigurative model. A typological connection makes use of common themes, situations, events, and even similar phrasing to compare two separate entities. This invites the reader to consider how the two are similar and what consequent implications arise for the understanding of the text. Logically, then, an anti-type would be a character who reverses the symbolic nature of another model while maintaining connections to the original. This paper will seek to point out how the themes and details present in Paul’s conversion and journey to Rome connect him to the story of Jonah while simultaneously overturning the theological precedent set by Jonah as his opposite.
Throughout this paper, I will follow Dan Allison’s idea that authors may make implicit citations rather than explicit statements to tie together different texts. In a sense, then, texts can be “dug up and transplanted without acknowledgement” by an author. A writer might simply choose to “retell events in a way that intends to recall similar circumstances.” Using this framework, it can be argued that Luke interfaces with different texts throughout his writing without making explicit reference to them. In addition, by alluding to a former text, the new text can be juxtaposed to the old. As differences are noticed, the allusion can “allow the new text to achieve a distinct identity to the older work.” More specifically, it can be determined that Luke intends to interact with the Jonah narrative through his own narrative based on similar circumstances and key words. In addition, the unique elements present in Luke’s account demonstrate Paul’s distinctiveness as a faithful prophet of God in contrast to Jonah.
To achieve our purpose, then, it must first be established that Luke is predisposed to use typology in his writing to engage with texts external to his narrative. Following this fact, an examination of the plot of Jonah is necessary. This will provide a comparative backdrop when examining Paul’s mission in Acts to the nations and also his trip to Rome. Once this is done, I will summarize Paul’s trip to Rome, focusing on details relevant to the study. I will then trace how Luke uses Paul, an unexpected man of obedience, as a total reversal of Jonah, the unexpected man of disobedience.
Moving forward, I will argue that Jonah’s disobedience was meant to be representative of Israel’s disobedience and overall refusal to accept the gospel. The Gentiles, meanwhile, are welcomed into the salvific scope of God’s kingdom. Where Jonah refuses to accept God’s concern for his cultural enemies (i.e. the Ninevites) so also the Jews refuse to accept that God could have in mind Gentiles for salvation, and both Jonah and the Jews in Acts react in anger. Paul, however, understands that God’s salvific scope extends to both Jews and Gentiles who respond to the Gospel of Christ in faith and follows Christ in faithful obedience, despite his initial opposition to the faith. These observations will, in a sense, serve to complement one of Luke’s goals in Acts which is to validate the church; specifically a church that includes Gentiles for salvation.
Battaglia, Collin, "Exploring Paul as the Anti-Jonah in Acts" (2017). Honors Theses. 245.