Jonah Unbound

in European Judaism
Howard Cooper Finchley Reform Synagogue, London, UK

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The Hebrew Bible is a compilation of literary ‘fictions’ and poetry that evoke ‘the truth of the human condition’ (Elena Ferrante). This article retells the story of the Book of Jonah from the first-person perspective of ‘Jonah’. The fictional narrative is rooted in the language and themes of the original biblical text. Jonah is still angry with God's forgiveness of the Ninevites, and readers’ complicity in the always-recurring flight from taking responsibility to act against evil in the world. As Jonah tells his story, he regresses into a manic state that parallels chapter 2 of the biblical book. The narrative moves into reflections about humanity's lack of compassion for the natural world, and Jonah's fears about the forthcoming ‘ecocide’ of the planet.

Contributor Notes

Rabbi Howard Cooper is a graduate of the Leo Baeck College, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice, the Director of Spiritual Development at Finchley Reform Synagogue, London, and a writer. He is the author of The Alphabet of Paradise: An A-Z of Spirituality for Everyday Life and blogs on psychological, spiritual, Jewish and contemporary themes at

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European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe


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