Though some scholars claim that Jonah is the author,[ref]Cf. [contentblock id=8 img=html.png]771; [contentblock id=10 img=html.png]11; [contentblock id=11 img=html.png]1461; [contentblock id=14 img=html.png]388; [contentblock id=16 img=html.png]III:737.[/ref] this is unlikely for three reasons. First, there is no mention anywhere in Jonah or elsewhere in Scripture about who wrote this short prophetic book. Second, identifying Jonah as the author is impossible if the book was written between 400 BC and 200 BC as suggested above. Third, it is highly unlikely that Jonah is the author since it is “an exposé of his hypocrisy and inconsistency, and ends with a portrayal of his almost childish stubbornness against the point God make via the object lesson of the plant.”[ref][contentblock id=24 img=html.png]432[/ref] Though many people write satires, few have the clarity and humility to write a self-deprecating satire, which is what Jonah would have done if he is the author. Certainly, “a contrite Jonah, later—perhaps years later than the events described in the book—might have chosen magnanimously to characterize himself this vividly and even embarrassingly as dead wrong in his former attitudes,”[ref][contentblock id=24 img=html.png]432[/ref] but such a scenario is highly unlikely.
Nevertheless, it is possible that a version of the story originated with Jonah, and was passed down orally until it was recorded at a later date by a later author. After all, to maintain historical accuracy, some of the details in the story, such as his prayer in the belly of the fish (chapter 2), and the conversation he had with God on the hill overlooking Nineveh (chapter 4), could have come from no one else but Jonah. But if he did not write the book as it currently reads, then the book was likely recorded by a later author. The wording adjustments and allusions to prophetic books would then be later additions to the oral tradition which began with Jonah.
So based on the date and message of the book of Jonah, the view of this commentary is that Jonah is the originator of the story, but it was passed down orally for several hundred years, being modified and changed over time, until it was eventually recorded by a later author who lived in Judea during the postexilic time period, and was using the story of Jonah to proclaim a message to his audience about their nationalistic, prejudiced, self-righteous tendencies.[ref][contentblock id=5 img=html.png]179-180. Cf. also [contentblock id=9 img=html.png]362.[/ref]
Such a view not only allows the story of Jonah to originate with him, thus serving as a model for future prophetic careers,[ref][contentblock id=6 img=html.png]42[/ref] but also allows for changes by an unnamed author to account for the terminology and ideas that could not have originated prior to 500 BC.[ref]Sasson agrees that such a view is consistent with traditionalist, conservative interpretations of Jonah. See [contentblock id=18 img=html.png]20. Sasson includes a detailed analysis of the various dating theories for the book of Jonah.[/ref] The fact that the author is unnamed actually supports this view, for he would have known that the story he was recording did not originate with him.
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