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II. Historical Setting, Authorship, and Date of Jonah

II. Historical Setting, Authorship, and Date of Jonah

A prophet named Jonah, son of Amittai, is mentioned in 2Ki 14:25. This prophet was from Gath Hepher in Galilee and presumably was the same prophet named in Jnh 1:1. The prophet would have prophesied in the reign of King Jeroboam II (793-753 b.c.).

Assyria had been forced out of Damascus, and Jeroboam, free of northern enemies, rebuilt Israel. At that time Nineveh was part of an extensive complex of cities that comprised the center of Assyria's power but was not yet the capital of the empire.

Many scholars have rejected the journey of Jonah to Nineveh as a historical account and prefer to understand the story as an allegory or a parable. Jesus referred to Jonah and Nineveh in relation to his own death, resurrection, and the future judgment (Mt 12:39-41; Lk 11:29-32), which, for many, strongly supports the historicity of the book of Jonah.

The text of the book of Jonah does not specify whether Jonah or someone else wrote the book. There is no compelling reason to deny that Jonah was the author of the book, though some scholars have proposed two or more unknown authors.

The scholars who regard the book as historical suggest that it was written some time after the events recorded but no later than about 760 b.c. Scholars who regard the book to be an allegory or a parable tend to date the book in the fourth or third century b.c.