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In this lucid and vividly written commentary on the book of Jonah, Phillip Cary offers a typological reading in which Jonah represents Israel as a blessing to the nations even in its disobedience, exile, and suffering. Christians receive this blessing precisely by identifying with Jonah/Israel through faith in Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. Readers interested in Jewish-Christian relations will value this addition to the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, as one of its primary themes is the relationship between Jew and Gentile.

The general editor for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible is R. R. Reno (editor, First Things). Series editors include Robert W. Jenson (Center of Theological Inquiry); Robert Louis Wilken (University of Virginia); Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto); Michael Root (Catholic University of America); and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas).

Volumes in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

R. R. Reno (editor, First Things) on Genesis Thomas Joseph White (Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum in Rome) on Exodus Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Leviticus David L. Stubbs (Western Theological Seminary) on Numbers Telford Work (Westmont College) on Deuteronomy Paul Hinlicky (Roanoke College) on Joshua Laura A. Smit (Calvin University) and Stephen Fowl (Loyola University Maryland) on Judges & Ruth Francesca Aran Murphy (University of Notre Dame) on 1 Samuel Robert Barron (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles) on 2 Samuel Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Kings Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Chronicles Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary) on Ezra & Nehemiah Samuel Wells (St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, London) and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas) on Esther & Daniel Ellen T. Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Psalms 1–50 Jason Byassee (Vancouver School of Theology) on Psalms 101–150 Daniel J. Treier (Wheaton College Graduate School) on Proverbs & Ecclesiastes Paul J. Griffiths on Song of Songs Robert W. Jenson (1930–2017; Center of Theological Inquiry) on Ezekiel Phillip Cary (Eastern University) on Jonah Stanley Hauerwas (Duke Divinity School) on Matthew David Lyle Jeffrey (Baylor University) on Luke Jaroslav Pelikan (1923–2006; Yale University) on Acts Kimlyn J. Bender (Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University) on 1 Corinthians Kathryn Greene-McCreight (The Episcopal Church at Yale) on Galatians Michael Allen (Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando) on Ephesians George Hunsinger (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Philippians Christopher R. Seitz (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Colossians Douglas Farrow (McGill University) on 1 & 2 Thessalonians Risto Saarinen (University of Helsinki) on the Pastoral Epistles with Philemon & Jude Douglas Harink (The King’s University College) on 1 & 2 Peter Joseph L. Mangina (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Revelation


"Phil Cary has given us a sparkling commentary on Jonah, one that in its combination of literary and theological acumen is true not only to the aims of the Brazos Theological Commentary series but also to the spirit of Jonah himself."--R. Kendall Soulen, Wesley Theological Seminary

Praise for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible:

"What a splendid idea! Many preachers have been longing for more commentaries that are not only exegetical but theological in the best sense: arising out of the conviction that God, through his Word, still speaks in our time. For those of us who take our copies of Martin Luther's Galatians and Karl Barth's Romans from the shelves on a regular basis, this new series in that tradition promises renewed vigor for preaching, and therefore for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in our time."--Fleming Rutledge, author of The Bible and The New York Times and The Seven Last Words from the Cross

"This new series places the accent on 'theological' and reflects current interpretive ferment marked by growing resistance to the historical-critical project. It may be that scripture interpretation is too important to be left to the exegetes, and so a return to the theologians. We will wait with great anticipation for this new series, at least aware that the outcomes of interpretation are largely determined by the questions asked. It is never too late to ask better questions; with a focus on the theological tradition, this series holds the promise of asking interpretive questions that are deeply grounded in the primal claims of faith. The rich promise of the series is indicated by the stature and erudition of the commentators. Brazos has enormous promises to keep with this project, and we wait with eagerness for its appearing!"--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible makes a most welcome contribution to the church, the academic world, and the general public at large. By enlisting a wide range of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox theologians who differ on much, but who agree on the truth of the Nicene Creed, the series also represents ecumenical activity of the very best kind. It is always a daunting challenge to expound the church's sacred book both simply and deeply, but this impressive line-up of authors is very well situated for the attempt."--Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame

"Preachers and teachers in particular, but thoughtful Christians more generally, have long lamented the slide of biblical scholarship into hyper-specialized critical studies of ancient texts in remote historical context. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Brazos Theological Commentary is being so warmly welcomed. The outstanding array of authors, beginning with Jaroslav Pelikan's splendid commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, is, at long last, reclaiming the Bible as the book of the living community of faith that is the church."--Richard John Neuhaus, author of American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile

"Contemporary application of the Bible to life is the preacher's business. But no worthy contemporary application is possible without a thorough understanding of the ancient text. The Brazos Theological Commentary exists to provide an accessible authority so that the preacher's application will be a ready bandage for all the hurts of life. We who serve the pulpit want a commentary we can understand, and those who hear us expect us to give them a usable word. The Brazos Commentary offers just the right level of light to make illuminating the word the joy it was meant to be."--Calvin Miller, author of A Hunger for the Holy and Loving God Up Close

"For pastors, wanting to get at the theological heart of a text, there is some good stuff. When I am preaching, I usually try to take a peek at the Brazos volume."--Nijay K. Gupta, assistant professor of New Testament, Northeastern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan College

The Author

  1. Phillip Cary

    Phillip Cary

    Phillip Cary (PhD, Yale University) is scholar-in-residence at the Templeton Honors College and professor of philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He serves as editor-in-chief of Pro Ecclesia and has written numerous books,...

    Continue reading about Phillip Cary


"One's response to this book will largely depend on what one thinks of theological interpretation of Scripture (TIS). Those who heed the TIS's call to read each text as part of the Bible, to make connections with other texts, and to follow pre-critical biblical exegesis will appreciate Cary's work. . . . [T]his book is a good place to begin for those wondering what TIS looks like in practice. And even for those who dislike TIS, the book is fun to read compared to the frequently dreary prose of most commentaries."--Charlie Trimm, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"Cary's concern to combat anti-Semitism in Christian readings of Jonah, and his discussions of important theological concepts related to the book, make this work beneficial for Christian pastors and laity."--Brad E. Kelle, Religious Studies Review

"Phillip Cary's commentary on the book of Jonah combines profound exegesis with original insights that could serve both the biblical scholar and the layperson. . . . The commentary provides a detailed analysis of each verse, which is indicated both in the text itself and at the top of each page for easier reference. . . . At the end of the commentary is an epilogue with some observations which could be useful for a dialogue between Judaism and Christianity. . . . In addition to information that one may find in other commentaries, Cary has some fresh observations. . . . Cary does end on a hopeful note in helping us rediscover that Christians and Jews can rejoice in the graces that they have both received from God. It is a hermeneutical conclusion that brings to an end this thought-provoking commentary. . . . A fine contribution to the field of exegesis on the book of Jonah. Phillip Cary does not simply repeat what others have written. He opens the way to some new possibilities in the interpretation of the book of Jonah for Christians today."--Jacek Stefanski, Review of Biblical Literature

"Seeks to focus on the overall meaning of the text rather than minute details. . . . It is readable and often suggestive, thus will be useful alongside a more detailed commentary."--Ray Van Neste, Preaching

"Cary writes with an energy and clarity rarely found in biblical commentaries of any type. . . . Cary works his way through the text phrase by phrase, with an eye for allusions and intertextual echoes; these often fund his theological reflections. He, appropriately in my opinion, blurs the distinction between interpretation and theology. . . . If . . . you want a sustained theological theme played out over the course of interpreting a text, then this volume will both edify and repay repeated reading."--Stephen Fowl, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"Cary highlights two features in his commentary which are unusual. First, Cary persuasively argues that the variation in the use of the names for God in Jonah is very important if one is to understand what the book is saying about God. The second unusual feature is Cary's interpretation of the importance and significance of the gourd in Jonah 4. Cary thinks that the gourd represents the royal Davidic line. Whether or not one agrees with Cary, this is an interesting and provocative move, and bathes the book of Jonah in a different light. . . . This book may be read, understood, and enjoyed by seminary students and professors, by pastors, by thoughtful lay people, and even by people who are not believers. Yet its insights are profound enough to make the volume worthy of shelf space. If the purpose of theology is to provoke us to seek God, I can heartily recommend this commentary. After reading it, I felt refreshed, chastened about my own heart's 'Jonah places,' and more determined to seek the God who is the Ultimate Protagonist in the story of Jonah, and indeed, of the whole Bible."--Daryl Docterman, Stone-Campbell Journal

"The chief benefit of Cary's work is methodological. It will fuel the ongoing and necessary conversation regarding the intersection of theological hermeneutics and interpretations that value historical-critical principles. More specifically, how does an interpretation that values historical-critical principles interact with the hermeneutical possibilities brought on by assuming a canonical framework? This question cannot be dismissed out of hand or taken lightly, particularly by those who confess the authority of both OT and NT."--David B. Schreiner, Bulletin for Biblical Research