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The book of Jonah is one of the Hebrew Scriptures' most significant writings. But since many of us don't recognize its literary genre, we miss the theology the author's trying to convey.

Technically the Bible isn't a book; it's a library: a collection of books, each created in a specific literary genre. Unless we know what category of book we're reading we won't understand what we're reading. We don't read a novel the way we read a biography, a comic book the way we read a history book.

We can't approach all Scripture with the same mindset, or assume every text is a factual report of what happened thousands of years ago. Our sacred authors were certainly inspired to convey their ideas of how God works in our lives, and to provide us with the implications which flow from such actions, but like all authors, they were free to employ different literary categories. Some opted for songs, poetry, or myths. The author of Jonah chose satire.

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