I realize that my longer post on hermeneutics below might be more than the average person wants to digest concerning biblical interpretation. However, it is more important than the average Christian realizes. As a demonstration of why it is important to study the basics of proper interpretation, I want you to picture in your mind the story of Jonah and the large fish. Remember the book of Jonah and the account of him being swallowed? I cheated by posting the photo to the right but does it bring to mind this? Or maybe this?For many people it does. But Jonah was not Pinocchio and it was a fish not necessarily a whale. This is how preunderstandings get attached to the biblical text apart from our even realizing it.
Once you rid yourself of the Disney indoctrination, you are forced to imagine how truly horrible and gross it really was. It must have been slimy, odoriferous and claustrophobic in the maximally terrific sense. In studying that book more carefully recently, I have come to the conclusion that Jonah actually died and was later revived. Jonah 2:2 says he cried out from the “belly of Sheol” which infers death. It also coheres nicely with Jesus’ “sign of Jonah” referring to the resurrection (Mt 16:4). This frames Jonah in a new light and shows how far preunderstandings can lead us astray. When we covered Jonah in an adult class at church, I was amazed that nearly everyone has the Disney image in mind.