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TO THE READER. The frequent and oftentimes unchristian discussions, almost denunciatory in tone, arising in the pulpit and press whenever reference is made to the unhistorical character of the Book of Jonah, are responsible for the appearance of this little book. In religious questions, perhaps, more than in others, the average person forms decided opinions with little, sometimes with no knowledge of the evidence which should be considered. This is so, partly because the means of obtaining the evidence are not always at hand, partly because of the tendency to adhere to the belief and opinions which our parents or the Church have taught.
The first aim of this little book is to present to the large body of busy clergymen and Biblical students a clear, simple
statement of all the facts which are known and many of the fancies which are entertained of Jonah and the Biblical book which bears his name.
A second, and perhaps the chief object of the book, is to place before all classes of people, the means of forming an intelligent opinion of the historical and the religious value of Jonah.
No pains have been spared in bringing to light every fact which has any bearing upon the objects in view. The Hebrew text and early commentators, every available Assyrian and Babylonian inscription of Jonah's time, the history of Assyria and the topography of Nineveh, as also the publications of modern critics, have all been examined with great care, and it is believed that for the first time many facts are rendered easily accessible to the public. This study, which to many may seem unnecessary, was undertaken with as great a spirit of honesty and impartiality as is possible in a work of this kind, and the author will be repaid a hundred fold if his efforts shall assist in opening the eyes which have so long been blinded by the unreasonable teachings of the early and middle centuries of our era, to see the book of Jonah in its true light, and in placing our belief, at least in this portion of the Scriptures, upon a foundation which shall bear historical and scientific investigation.