Then the Lord rebukes him for his selfish grief over the withering of a gourd, while still desiring that God should not be touched by the repentance of a city in which "there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons that know not how to distinguish between their right hand and their left, and many beasts." Apart from the hymn ascribed to Jonah (ii, 2-11) the contents of the book are prose.
Catholics have always looked upon the Book of Jonah as a fact-narrative.
To the Rationalist and to the advanced Protestant Biblical scholar these arguments are of no worth whatsoever.
They find error not only in Jewish and Christian tradition but in Christ Himself.
In this abode he enjoys for a time the refreshing shade of a gourd which the Lord prepares for him.
Shortly, however, the gourd is stricken by a worm and the Prophet is exposed to the burning rays of the sun, whereupon he again murmurs and wishes to die.
In the works of some recent Catholic writers there is a leaning to regard the book as fiction.
For as the Jonah was in the whale's belly three days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
The apocryphal III Mach., vi, 8, lists the saving of Jonah in the belly of the fish along with the other wonders of Old Testament history. Jud., IX, 2) clearly deems the story of Jonah to be historical. The Authority of Our Lord This reason is deemed by Catholics to remove all doubt as to the fact of the story of Jonah.
The Jews asked a "sign" -- a miracle to prove the Messiahship of Jesus.
The Jews asked for a real miracle ; Christ would have deceived them had He presented a mere fancy .
He argues clearly that just as Jonah was in the whale's belly three days and three nights even so He will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
It would be little less strange were he to berate the Jews for their real lack of penance by rating this lack in contrast with the penance of Ninive which never existed at all.