For more great commentaries on Jonah, be sure to check:
Commentaries on the Minor Prophets, Commentaries on All the Prophets,
Commentaries on the Whole Old Testament
& Whole Bible Commentaries
“This unloveable prophet has found more commentators than any other; partly we suppose because the angles of his character excite greater interest, but mainly because we have some knowledge of his life, and therefore are able to realize his personality. He has received quite as much attention as he deserves in proportion to other prophets.”
Order of Contents
Early & Medieval Church 3
Jonah Generally 3
ch. 1 1
For the Young 1
The Best Commentaries on Jonah
Calvin, John – The Lectures or Daily Sermons… upon the Prophet Jonas (1578)
*** – “This of course is fuller than the Commentary, and, as the work of a reverend master, is beyond our criticism.” – Spurgeon
Abbott, George – An Exposition upon the Prophet Jonah contained in Certain Sermons (1600)
Abbott (1562-1633) was a reformed Anglican.
*** – “Abbott was a renowned Calvinist divine, and one of the translators of the present version of the Bible. No set of works on Jonah would be complete without this learned, laborious, and comprehensive exposition. It is, of course, very antique in style; but, like ‘old wine’, it is none the worse for its age.” – Spurgeon
Fuller, Thomas – Notes upon Jonah (d. 1661)
Fuller was a reformed Anglican.
*** “Full of wisdom, and fuller of wit; in fact, too full of the soul of the latter, for they are far too short.” – Spurgeon
Exell, Joseph – Practical Readings in the Book of Jonah Ref (1874) 162 pp.
*** – “Mr. Excell, in a very unpretending but able way, brings to light the practical lessons of Jonah. Paxton Hood calls these readings ‘admirable’, and we concur in the verdict.” – Spurgeon
Ferguson, Sinclair – Man Overboard! The Story of Jonah (1981; Banner of Truth, 2008) 112 pp. ToC
Robertson, O. Palmer – Jonah: A Study in Compassion Buy (1990) 64 pp. ToC
Fairbairn, Patrick – Jonah: his Life, Character & Mission, Viewed in Connection with the Prophet’s Own Times & Future Manifestations of God’s Mind & Will in Prophecy (1849)
Fairbairn was a Free Church of Scotland minister and professor.
*** – “The life and times of the prophet are set in a clear light; and the nature and design of his mission fully explained. The work is well done, and is by far the ablest English treatise on this prophet.” – Spurgeon
‘First published over 120 years ago and since then regarded as one of the ablest expository treatments available.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Martin, Hugh – The Prophet Jonah: his Character & Mission to Ninevah (1866)
Martin was of the Free Church of Scotland.
*** – “A first-class exposition of Jonah. No one who has it will need any other. It is not a small treatise, as most of the Jonah books are; but it contains 460 pages, all rich with good matter. It is out of print, and ought to be republished. What are publishers at to let such a book slip out of the market?” – Spurgeon
‘By one of the outstanding ministers in the Scottish galaxy in the middle half of the nineteenth century.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Peddie, James – A Practical Exposition of the Book of Jonah Kindle (1842)
*** – “The pungent remarks peculiar to the Ralph Erskine [one of the Marrow Men and Scottish Seceders] school make the Jonah of Dr. Peddie a favorite wherever it is known.” – Spurgeon
Raleigh, Alexander – The Story of Jonah the Prophet (1875)
*** – “Dr. Raleigh calls your attention to every touch of the strange picture which hangs before us in the life of Jonah. Although we do not always endorse the Doctor’s remarks, we can but marvel at the beauty and power of his descriptions and reflections.” – Spurgeon
Commentaries on Jonah
Luther, Martin – Lectures on Jonah in Works, vol. 19: Minor Prophets II: Jonah & Habakkuk ed. Hilton C. Oswald Buy ToC
Tyndale, William – The Prophet Jonah with an Introduction Before Teaching to Understand Him and the right use also of all the Scripture, etc. (1531)
Hooper, John – An Overview & Deliberation upon Jonah: Made & Uttered before the King’s Majesty, in Seven Sermons (1550)
Hooper (ca. 1495-1500–1555) was one of the English reformers and martyrs who got burnt at the stake under Bloody Mary.
* – “It would not repay the student to buy Hooper’s works for this short piece. The language is antique, and the thought not of the newest.” – Spurgeon
King, John – Lectures on Jonah (1559)
** – “Quaint and rich, with a little occasional quiet mirth. It was *the* book of its time. Some will think it out of date, others will, like Grosart, prize the work of ‘the Bishop with the royal name.'” – Spurgeon
Brenz, Johannes – News from Nineveh to England, brought by the Prophet Jonah, which News is Plainly Published in the Godly & Learned Exposition of Master John Brentius trans. Thomas Tymme (London, 1570)
Brenz (1499-1570) was a German, Lutheran and a professor of Latin, Greek and Hebrew at Heidelberg.
Smith, Henry – Jonah, the Messenger of Nineveh’s Repentance, Set forth in his Calling, Rebellion & Punishment (d. 1591)
Jemmat, William – A Practical Exposition of the Historical Prophesy of Jonah, Delivering Sundry Brief Notes in a Cursory Way concerning the Mind of the Holy Ghost in the Several Passages (London, 1665)
Jemmat (d. 1678) was a conforming puritan clergyman.
Popular & Practical, 1800’s
Cunningham, J.W. – Six Lectures on the Book of Jonah (1833)
** “Good simple Lectures.” – Spurgeon
Edwards, Henry – An Exposition of the Book of Jonah, in 14 Lectures (1837) 330 pp.
** “Fourteen plain, earnest, practical sermons.” – Spurgeon
Muir, Adam S. – Glimpses of Prophet Life: Lessons from the History of Jonah (1857)
** “A lively, popular and earnest book, in a specially florid style. The author talks a great deal about ‘the Son of Amittai’; why not say Jonah? We are tempted to pull the finery to pieces; but we stay our hand, for there is really something good in these ‘lessons’.” – Spurgeon
Tweedie, W.K. – Man by Nature & by Grace: or, Lessons from the Book of Jonah (1850)
Tweedie was of the Free Church of Scotland.
** – “A good practical work, expounding the book of Jonah for Christian edification.” – Spurgeon
Burn, Samuel C. – The Prophet Jonah (1880; Klock & Klock, 1981) ToC
Desprez, P.S. – The Book of Jonah, Illustrated by Discoveries at Ninevah (1857)
** – “To make Layard illustrate Jonah was a good idea, and it has been well carried out.” – Spurgeon
Douglas, George – The Six Intermediate Minor Prophets: Jonah in Hand-Books for Bible Classes, eds. Dods & Whyte
Douglas (1826-1904) was a Hebraist in the Free Church of Scotland, having studied under Thomas Chalmers and came to be a Principle of the Free Church College. “He was a scholarly conservative, skeptical of higher critical views.” – DoSCH&T
Jones, Thomas – Jonah’s Portrait; or, Various Views of Human Nature & of the Gracious Dealings of God with Fallen Man (1819)
** – “‘Jonah’s Portrait’ was very popular fifty years ago, and deservedly so, for Mr. Jones sketches it with considerable power. We should fancy that Jonah’s portrait, as he sat under his withered gourd, was not a thing of beauty, or a joy for ever.” – Spurgeon
MacPherson, Alex – Lectures on the Book of Jonah (1849)
MacPherson was of the Free Church of Scotland.
** – “Far superior to the general run of lectures.” – Spurgeon
Kirk, Thomas – Jonah, his Life & Mission Buy (1903; Klock & Klock, 1983) 340 pp. ToC
Aalders, G. Ch. – The Problem of the Book of Jonah Buy (Tyndale Press, 1948) pamphlet at BiblicalStudies.org
‘A conservative approach.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Banks, William L. – Jonah: the Reluctant Prophet Buy (Moody Press, 1966) 120 pp. ToC
‘A helpful exposition which admirably blends historic data with Hebrew word studies and a devotional emphasis.’ – Cyril J. Barber
Drake, William – Notes Critical & Explanatory on the Prophecies of Jonah & Hosea, with a Summary of the History of Judah & Israel during the Period when the Prophecies of Hosea were Delivered (1853)
** – ” Entirely critical. Only useful to Hebrew scholars.” – Spurgeon
The Early Church on Jonah
Ferreiro, Alberto – Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: The Twelve Prophets Buy
Ephraem the Syrian – The Repentance of Nineveh, a Metrical Homily on the Mission of Jonah (1853) 290 pp.
Ephraem (c. 306–373)
* “A literary curiosity–nothing more.” – Spurgeon
Medieval Church on Jonah
Haimo of Auxerre – Commentary on the Book of Jonah Buy
Medieval Jewish Commentaries on Jonah
Bob, Steven – Go to Ninevah: Medieval Jewish Commentaries to the Book of Jonah, Translated & Explained Buy
On Jonah Generally
‘The Fall of Nineveh’ (1924) 13 pp. in The Princeton Theological Review
‘Nahum, Nineveh, Elkosh’ 13 pp. n.d.
De Graaf, S.G. – ‘Sanctified & Made a Blessing’ 5 pp. in Promise & Deliverance, vol. 2: The Failure of Israel’s Theocracy (1977), pp. 342-47
De Graff is a Dutch Reformed author who focuses on the unfolding of the Covenant through history. He writes in an easy to read, but insightful style.
Hengstenberg, E.W. – ‘Messianic Predictions in Jonah’ (1868) 6 pp. in The Christology of the Old Testament, vol. 1, pp. 407-13
Whyte, Alexander – Jonah in Bible Characters (d. 1921)
Whyte was a popular leader of the United Free Church of Scotland and writes popularly.
Jonah ch. 1
Simpson, James – Evening exercises … In a Series of Discourses on Subjects Selected from the First Chapter of Jonah (1816)
* “Very little in the sermons, but their titles are singularly happy, and in themselves enough to afford subjects of discourse to preachers.” – Spurgeon
Jonah for the Young
Gaussen, Louis – Jonah the Prophet: Lessons on his Life. Addresses Delivered at a Sunday School at Geneva n.d.
Gaussen was an 1800’s Swiss Reformed pastor, known for his classic work on the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture.
Jonah in Poetry 1
See the subsection on Jonah on our Bible in Poetry page.