A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post asking why the Apostle Paul never used the Book of Jonah in support of his argument for the Gentile mission when it would seem that there was no book more qualified to address Israel’s hardened heart toward their neighbors. This led Matt Emerson to write one noting the same thing can be said of important biblical characters like Joseph and Joshua who are never mentioned in the whole of the New Testament! In our exchange in the comments he mentioned another solution that I thought I would post here to see what everyone (or anyone) has to say.

Matt suggested that since the Book of the Twelve was considered a unified whole it may not have crossed his mind to cite Jonah specifically since we have quotations from books like Habakkuk, Hosea, and Joel that are part of the twelve.

I don’t know enough about the Book of the Twelve or how it was used in Second Temple interpretive schemes to know if this is a likely answer or not. Any thoughts?


At this time the best response has been from J. Michael Rios who wrote,

” I suspect that the answer stems from the interpretation of Jonah, which isn’t primarily about a challenge to mission, but rather about condemnation of Israel’s reticence to fulfill mission. Hence, Paul doesn’t quote it with respect to his Gentile mission because it isn’t a source that bolsters that argument. (See also Jesus’ references to Jonah, which always bear an edge of lurking condemnation.) Hence, if I were looking for Paul to use Jonah in his writings, I would look for passages that condemn (national) Israel’s resistance to the call of the gospel. But since Paul desires, rhetorically, to invite in and not condemn national Israel (e.g., Rom 10:1), this is something he doesn’t do. Hence, no Jonah in Paul.”