Commentaries on Jonah

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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
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Charles Spurgeon:

“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

The Best Commentaries  10
Commentaries  16
Early Church  2
Medieval Church  1
Medieval Jewish
On Jonah Generally  3
Jonah ch. 1
For the Young  1
In Poetry  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 on the Book of Jonah  1874

*** “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  Buy  1981  112 pp.

Robertson, O. Palmer – Jonah: A Study in Compassion  Buy  1990  64 pp.



Fairbairn, Patrick – Jonah: his Life, Character, and Mission, Viewed in Connection with the Prophet’s Own Times and Future Manifestations of God’s Mind and 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 and 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 – Works, vol. 19: Minor Prophets II: Jonah and Habakkuk  Buy

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 and Deliberation upon Jonah: made and 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

Smith, Henry – Jonah, the Messenger of Ninevah’s Repentance, Set forth in his Calling, Rebellion, and Punishment  d. 1591


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 and 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 – The Prophet Jonah  Buy  1880  Reprinted by Klock & Klock

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, ed. 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, and, 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 and Mission  Buy  1903  Reprinted by Klock & Klock

Aalders, G. Ch. – The Problem of the Book of Jonah  Buy  1948  Tyndale Press, pamphlet

‘A conservative approach.’ – Cyril J. Barber

Banks, William L. – Jonah: the Reluctant Prophet  Buy  1966

‘A helpful exposition which admirably blends historic data with Hebrew word studies and a devotional emphasis.’ – Cyril J. Barber



Drake, William – Notes Critical and Explanatory on the Prophecies of Jonah and Hosea, with a Summary of the History of Judah and 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 


Individual Father

Ephraem the Syrian – The Repentance of Nineveh, a Metrical Homily on the Mission of Jonah  1853  290 pp.

Ephraem  (ca. 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 and Explained  Buy



On Jonah Generally

Allis, O.T.

‘The Fall of Nineveh’  1924  13 pp.  in The Princeton Theological Review

‘Nahum, Nineveh, Elkosh’  13 pp.  n.d.

De Graaf, S.G. – ‘Sanctified and Made a Blessing’  1977  5 pp. in Promise and Deliverance, vol. 2: The Failure of Israel’s Theocracy, pp. 342-347

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. 407-413

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.




Related Pages

Whole Bible Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries