Greetings in Christ, Sister Beth!
The “Christian faith has its specificity, primarily in that it refers to historical events, or better to a coherent history, which actually took place as history. In this sense, the question about the fact, the reality of the event, is essential to” our faith; consequently, what might be styled as the deeper meaning of salvation history “must not be separated from the facts” ( (2002)Current Doctrinal Relevance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church). The Church teaches that the historical narrative of Sacred Scripture “is not mythology, but a true history” (Final Propositions of the Synod of Bishops on the Bible (2008), Proposition 25). Pope Benedict included this proposition in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation:
“Before all else, we need to acknowledge the benefits that historical-critical exegesis and other recently-developed methods of textual analysis have brought to the life of the Church. For the Catholic understanding of sacred Scripture, attention to such methods is indispensable, linked as it is to the realism of the Incarnation: “This necessity is a consequence of the Christian principle formulated in the Gospel of John 1:14: Verbum caro factum est. The historical fact is a constitutive dimension of the Christian faith. The history of salvation is not mythology, but a true history, and it should thus be studied with the methods of serious historical research” (Verbum Domini).
The Catechism hails Job as one of “several great figures among the Gentiles” (, 58CCC).
The Early Church Fathers took the Book of Jonah as an historical account. If you’d like, you can read Augustine’s Letter 102, To Deogratias from No. 30 forward, to see him answering the same types of objections we try to answer today. Jesus said that “[t]he men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah” (Matthew 12:41). Fictional characters just can’t do this! And it would be a poor preacher indeed who would in-weave a fairy tale of humorous tone when pronouncing such a solemn condemnation. Jesus was not a poor preacher.
My advice: pray for this priest. Thank God that you are in communion with him in the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ. Talk with him, if you can. Don’t be disturbed in your faith. But if you are, cry out to God for him and for you, “Increase our faith!” And be comforted to know that there are other Catholics who share your faith.
With love in Christ,
“Holy Scripture is invested with supreme authority by reason of its sure and momentous teachings regarding the faith. Whatever, then, it tells us of Enoch, Elias and Moses—that we believe. We do not, for instance, believe that God’s Son was born of the Virgin Mary simply because He could not otherwise have appeared in the flesh and ‘walked amongst men’—as Faustus would have it—but we believe it simply because it is written in Scripture; and unless we believe in Scripture we can neither be Christians nor be saved” (Augustine, Against Faustus as quoted in Spiritus Paraclitus).