Church of the Brethren

Online Bible Course: The Book of Jonah

February 11 - March 22, 2013
Sponsored by: Church of the Brethren Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center

If you have questions about the course itself, email Susan Jeffers at
For information on registration and fees, contact Amy Milligan, 717-361-1450.

This webpage was last updated 3 December 2012.

This online Biblical Studies course is open to anyone who would like to enroll. By far the majority of students in SVMC courses are members of the Church of the Brethren in training for ministry (broadly construed). The instructor, Susan Jeffers, is a Quaker (member of the Religious Society of Friends) and would be particularly pleased should some interested Quakers sign up. To get a sense of the instructor's biblical interests and approach, check out her "Peace Church Bible Study Home Page" at

Course Description: In this course we will study the Biblical book of Jonah, a short narrative work found among the Prophets in both the Christian Old Testament and the Jewish Hebrew Bible (Tanakh). We will try to read Jonah as if for the first time, paying close attention to what the biblical text actually says and what it might mean. We will consult commentaries and other resources for information about the ancient world and what the Church has thought about this book of the Bible, in an effort to become better equipped for biblically grounded ministry. Students will be expected to read and think about assigned biblical and other texts, to participate in online class discussion, and to learn a bit of the biblical Hebrew language relevant to our study. Students will complete a course project to demonstrate understanding of a particular aspect of Jonah, effective use of resources such as Bible dictionaries and commentaries, and ability to use the Bible in ministry.

Course Format: This course will be conducted online, using "Moodle" online courseware. You will need access to a high-speed Internet connection for an hour or more, at least 4-5 times per week throughout the course. You should plan on a total of 12-15 hours every week for the 6 weeks of the course for reading, online discussion and offline study. If you have questions, contact the instructor, Susan Jeffers, at

Required Books

(1) NRSV Study Bible, in one of these editions:
New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, Third edition or later edition. Oxford University Press.
New Interpreters Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. Abingdon, 2003, ISBN 0687278325.
HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. HarperSanFrancisco, ISBN 0060655801, 0060655267, or 0060655275.
Please email the instructor for permission to use a different NRSV Study Bible.

(2) Believers Church Bible Commentary Ruth, Jonah, Esther by Eugene F. Roop, Herald Press, 2002.

Recommended Book

The Jewish Study Bible: Tanakh Translation, edited by Adele Berlin, Marc Zvi Brettler, and Michael A. Fishbane. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Course Schedule:

Week 1

February 11-17, 2013

Course and student introductions
Read through the entire book of Jonah, commentary introductory material, and the Essays at the back of the commentary.
Students propose course project

Week 2

February 18-24, 2013

Jonah 1, Bible and commentary
Students report progress on course project

Week 3

February 25-March 3, 2013

Jonah 2, Bible and commentary
Students report progress on course project

Week 4

March 4-10, 2013

Jonah 3, Bible and commentary
Students report progress on course project

Week 5

March 11-17, 2013

Jonah 4, Bible and commentary
Students report progress on course project

Week 6

March 18-22, 2013

Jonah, the New Testament, and Christian Theology:
Re-read the essays at the back of the commentary and review the connections we have found, between Jonah and the New Testament.
Look up and carefully read all Bible passages to which Roop refers, and reflect on how Jonah functions in Christian context.
Students present and discuss completed course project
Closing discussion; re-read the entire book of Jonah.

Any questions about course content, please email Susan Jeffers at