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Jonah and Genre

Steven L. McKenzie

Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.

—Jonathan Swift, Preface to The Battle of the Books

What writing is. Telepathy, of course.

—Stephen King, On Writing

The thesis of this book is simple. It is that many—I would even venture to say “most”—people who read the Bible misunderstand it. This is not exactly a novel claim. I had a teacher once who was fond of saying that the Bible is bigger than all of us. No one understands the Bible completely, but most readers of the Bible fail to appreciate the true nature of its literature. I would add that the consequences of their misunderstanding can be devastating. I don't mean that they can be spiritually devastating—as in the idea that misunderstanding the Bible can lead to eternal damnation—but that they can be psychologically devastating—as when an individual feels torn between abandoning faith because the Bible seems unreasonable and untrue, or committing to a belief system that affirms the complete accuracy of the Bible in all matters despite reasonable indications to the contrary. These are extreme reactions, but they illustrate the point that the question of what to do with the Bible is a real one for those people who want to hold on to a faith that allows for a realistic view of the world.

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Oxford University Press

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