Jonah's complexes and our own: psychology and the interpretation of the Book of Jonah
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Lasine, Stuart. 2016. Jonah's complexes and our own: psychology and the interpretation of the Book of Jonah. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, vol. 41:no. 2:pp 237-260
This article employs attribution theory to investigate why readers have made such widely varying judgments concerning the character Jonah. This branch of social psychology examines the ways in which we go about judging other people (and literary characters), including our tendency to assume that behavior is a function of robust character traits rather than the situations in Which a person finds him- or herself. While some biblical scholars have appealed to 'Jonah complexes' in order to explain the prophet's actions, Jonah does not conform to any version of this psychological model. Nevertheless, such models are helpful to the extent that they respond to the text's emphasis on metaphors of enclosure and exposure and the fundamental human fears and fantasies which stein from this dimension of human life. This study proposes that focusing on this dimension can help one to understand why readers have made dramatically different assessments of Jonah's character and his relationship with his God.
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