Friday, January 20, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to Sunday

“Jonah and the Whale” by Carlo Antonio Tavella
 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the L
ᴏʀᴅ.  He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lᴏʀᴅ.… So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lᴏʀᴅ, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?”  For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.  (Jon 1:3, 9–10)

But, as I have learned from a man skilled in these subjects, and able to grasp the depth of the prophet, by means of a reasonable explanation of what seems unreasonable in the history, it was not this which caused Jonah to flee, and carried him to Joppa and again from Joppa to Tarshish, when he entrusted his stolen self to the sea: for it was not likely that such a prophet should be ignorant of the design of God, viz., to bring about, by means of the threat, the escape of the Ninevites from the threatened doom, according to His great wisdom, and unsearchable judgments, and according to His ways which are beyond our tracing and finding out; nor that, if he knew this he would refuse to co-operate with God in the use of the means which He designed for their salvation.   Besides, to imagine that Jonah hoped to hide himself at sea, and escape by his flight the great eye of God, is surely utterly absurd and stupid, and unworthy of credit, not only in the case of a prophet, but even in the case of any sensible man, who has only a slight perception of God, Whose power is over all.

Gregory Nazianzen, In Defense of His Flight to Pontus, Oration 2.107

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