The story of Jonah is one of the most well-known Bible stories in the world. Just mentioning the name “Jonah” usually results in the image of a massive whale (something the size of Moby Dick in most people’s mind) swallowing a man whole and then spitting him back out on dry land after three days. However, because most people wrongly assume that they understand the true meaning behind the book of Jonah (God performs miracles by whatever way He chooses), they either skip over reading the book when they encounter it in their daily Bible reading, or just skim the contents of it without digging deep to understand it’s meaning. Adopting either one of those types of attitudes will result in a missed blessing in your life. Having taught through the book of Jonah a few times myself, I realize just how deep and rich of a book it really is, so I am always excited to get my hands on books written about Jonah. In steps Baruch Maoz’s devotional style commentary on the book of Jonah, Prophet on the Run, which offers a brief overview of the entire book of Jonah. Maoz’s goal in writing Prophet on the Run is “to give the reader a graphic sense of the message of the book of Jonah, taking into account the particularities of Hebrew and of the historical background against which the narrative was written.”(Pg. 5) To be honest, that is a fairly lofty goal for a book that checks in at only 95 pages, but I think Maoz’s book accomplishes his goal for the most part.
One of the main things readers need to keep in mind when reading this book is that it is meant as a primer to spur a desire to dig deeper into the book of Jonah, and not as a book that is going to exegete each verse of the book. I personally love mixing in deep commentaries and books on a specific book of the Bible with books just like Maoz’s, because there are times when you can get so “bogged down” with each minutia detail of the text that you miss the overall picture. For Jonah, Prophet on the Run is just such a book that helps its readers see and grasp the dominant theme of this book of the Bible, which is:
“The central message of the book is much needed and highly relevant to Jewish ears: Israel has no ownership over God. He is the God of all nations. All owe him obedience, and he shows mercy to all without distinction. This message anticipates the message of the New Testament-that God has taken Jews and Gentiles, set aside the differences between them, and made of the two one new people in Christ.” (Pg. 11)
Furthermore, when you read a lot of books like I do, there are times where you are tempted to jump over the introduction and dive right into the main chapters of the book. Some introductions are very verbose, and they add very little to the book. However, please don’t make that mistake with this book, or you will miss out on some very interesting facts about Jonah that are worth knowing. For instance, Maoz talks about the “impressive command of Hebrew” that the author of Jonah had. It was/is so impressive, that “many Bible colleges and seminaries use the book of Jonah as part of their courses in biblical Hebrew.” There are other important, and interesting, facts contained in the Introduction that really help set the stage for everything that is unpacked in the rest of the book.
Overall, Prophet on the Run is a very successful devotional style commentary on Jonah which accomplishes its goal of stirring up in its readers a desire to dig deeper into Jonah.
I received this book for free from Shepherds Press via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”