We read at Jonah 1: 5-6:

Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep. The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.”

We also read at Mtt 8:23-25:

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

Elsewhere, we see Jesus comparing himself with Jonah, at Mtt 12: 39-40:

But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth."

One sees a strange similarity between the sleep of Jonah on board the ship and that of the Lord in the boat in that both are fast asleep when the world around is in trouble, and both are woken up by the ones in trouble. My question therefore is: Has the Catholic Church drawn a parallel between the sleep of Jonah on board the ship and that of Jesus in the boat?

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    Is every one who sleeps in the Bible a picture of Jesus? Jonah was running away from God's will, Jesus was fulfilling it. Why seek meaning out of this set of coincidences?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 10:36
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    @curiousdannii - Jesus pointedly drew comparison between his coming burial and resurrection and the ministry of Jonah. He said that the sign of Jonah was the only sign that that generation would receive. Looking for other points of comparison between Jesus and Jonah seems on the table to me. Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


Has the Catholic Church drawn a parallel between the sleep of Jonah on board the ship and that of Jesus in the boat?

St. Cyril of Jerusalem does so.

Calming of the storm of Jonas, has been paralleled to the Gospel story by a least on Church Father. The circumstances surrounding the storm that hit the ship bound for Tarshish bears striking similarities to the account of the calming of the storm in the gospels (Matthew 8, Luke 8, and Mark 4). In both cases, the protagonist is sleeping during the storm (Jonah in the Old Testament, Jesus in the New). Both protagonists have to be woken as their shipmates plead them to take action to calm the storm. And both end up doing just that, albeit in different ways: Jonah is thrown overboard while Christ rebukes the winds. St. Cyril of Jerusalem elaborates on the parallels and the important contrasts between the two stories in the following manner:

Jonah and Jesus

And when we examine the story of Jonah, great is the force of the resemblance. Jesus was sent to ‎preach repentance; Jonah also was sent: but whereas the one fled, not knowing what should come to pass; ‎the other came willingly, to give repentance unto salvation. Jonah was asleep in the ship, and snoring ‎amidst the stormy sea; while Jesus also slept, the sea, according to God’s providence, began to rise, to show ‎in the sequel the might of Him who slept. To the one they said, “Why are you sleeping? Arise, call you’re ‎your God, that God may save us;” but in the other case they say unto the Master, “Lord, save us.” Then ‎they said, Call upon thy God; here they say, save Thou. But the one says, Take me, and cast me into the ‎sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you; the other, Himself rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a ‎great calm. The one was cast into a whale’s belly: but the other of His own accord went down, where the ‎invisible whale of death is. And He went down of His own accord, that death might cast up those whom he ‎had devoured, according to that which is written, I will ransom them from the power of the grave; and from ‎the hand of death I will redeem them.

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

Caveat: Although taken from an Orthodox website, St. Cyril of Jerusalem is a recognized saint and Church Father in both Churches.

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