Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 11.djvu/295

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ii s. xi. APRIL io, 1915.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


" POISSON DE JONAS" (11 S. xi. 189). If LEO C. will refer to Dr. Pusey's exhaustive study of this subject in his ' Minor Prophets : Jonah,' p. 257 seq., he will, I think, find pretty nearly all the information available as to the "poisson de Jonas." Pusey investi- gates the force of K^TOS, as used by various authors, and shows that it connotes a genus including the whale, not the whale itself, and concludes that the fish in the Jonah story was the white shark Carcharias. He cites various authorities in support of his contention. Here is one from " a natural historian of repute " (Miiller) :

"In 1758 in stormy weather a sailor fell over- board from a frigate in the Mediterranean. A shark was close by, which, as he was swimming and crying for help, took him in its wide throat, so that he forthwith disappeared. Other sailors had leapt into the sloop to help their comrade while yet swimming ; the captain had a gun discharged at the fish, which struck it so that it cast out the sailor which it had in its throat, who was taken up alive and little injured. The fish was harpooned

and taken on the frigate it was 20 feet long,

and weighed 3,924 Ib. From all this, it is probable that this was the fish of Jonah."

In a remarkably interesting common- place book compiled by my great-great- grandfather (who was a Fellow of C.C.C. Oxford, and Hector of Heyford), which is in my possession, I find some notes on this subject. I regret that I cannot always decipher, and therefore attempt to verify, his authorities, which he nearly always give's, for, as the book is a folio of some 450 pages of MS., " scrip tus et in tergo," the writing is often sorely cramped and crowded. His note is on the shark or tiburon (?), and he adds at once :

" The fish that swallowed Jonah. Barthol: de Morb: Bib: 476, and Grot: de Ver. X. rel: 27."

His other citations are :

"When the young ones are in danger they retire into the mouth of the old one; and we found one young one 6 feet long in an old shark's belly." Ovington, 46.

"One drawn into the ship where the author was, that was at least 45 feet long." 76., 45.

"We are assured by several accounts that a negro was taken out of the belly of one, who lived nearly 24 hours after he was taken out." Fure- tiers (?), under the word ' Tiburon.'

" One weighed at least r 4,000 Ib. ; a whole man found in its belly." Littleton's 'Diet.' in voc. ' Lamia,' p. 153.

I should have said that in Pusey's ex- cursus the references to his long list of autho- rities are always carefully given.

S. B. C.


Krjros in Greek, cetus in Latin, and c&to in Italian mean any kind of sea-monster whale, shark, dogfish, seal, dolphin, porpoise, &c. (cf. Liddell and Scott's 'Greek-English Lexicon,' Lewis and Short's 'Latin Diet.,' and Fanfani's ' Vocabulario della Lingua Italiana 5 ). This is recognized by the R.V., which has a note to " whale " in St. Matthew xii. 40 : " Gr. sea-monster. ."

As the Catholic Church is committed to the maintenance of the historical character of the ' Prophetia Jonse,' and as it seems to be admitted on all hands that a whale could not have swallowed so bulky an object as a prophet, it will not be surprising if /ojro? is translated as requin (shark) in French versions of the New Testament.

The east window of Lincoln College,. Oxford, a fine piece of Flemish glass, has a* representation of the casting upon shore of the prophet Jonas. Ribald undergraduates assured me that this window also represented the casting up of a trunk marked P. J. for " Propheta Jonas." I saw the trunk well enough it was obviously intended for a, rock ; but the P. J. is a myth.


The Book of Jonah belongs to those homiletical works, set in allegorical frame- work, the basis of which is more or less unhistorical, or semi -historical. The Book of Esther, the Book of Tobit, &c., belong to the same series, and were written to sub- serve the same public ends, during periods of grave national anxiety. The Book of Jonah, despite its unhistoric setting, holds a dominant place in the synagogue, being publicly read in the afternoon service for the Day of Atonement. It came into pro- minence during that dark period in Jewish history when Antiochus Epiphanes, in the second half of the second century before the- Christian Era, sought to destroy the Judan hegemony, and was in the end triumphantly- defeated by the Hasmonean princes. To that same period much of the " Chochma " or Wisdom Literature may be rationally- assigned also. The whole theme is wonder- fully elaborated in the Talmud (Taanith,. &c.).

With regard to the question itself, one is puzzled to know how the Vulgate arrived at the rendering " a whale " for the generic term " dog " = " fish." For various sea- monsters, such as crocodiles and dolphins, we have the terms tannim, tannin, tannineem, and livyoson. Gesenius considers the livy- oson to be the crocodile ; we favour the dolphin, seeing it was allowed as a