I am working on an article on the Sign of Jonah for the Synoptic Gospels
section of the upcoming SBL and I'm wondering if anyone here can help me
out with something that I'll need to comment on.
As you know, for Matthew (and for Luke as well) the occasion of the
demand that prompts Jesus' sign of Jonah remark is an excorcism/healing
of a "dumb" demoniac. What I'd like to know is whether there is any
special purity or boundary significance in "dumbness". The very fact
that a "sign" is demanded after Jesus heals the "dumb" man would seem to
indicate that there is, given that in the Synoptic tradition "signs" are
only asked for either to certify the truth of a distrusted prophecy, or
to establish the validity of a disputed claim that a certain course of
action and the person initiating it are "of God"( i.e. really consistent
with his will and purposes).
But if so, what is it? Is "dumbness" something that designates a person
as "not of "Israel"? As under a curse? As one who does not deserve the
mercy of God? Is the healing of "dumbness" something that could be seen
as an extension of the mercies of God to those who were ordinarily
thought of as undeserving of them?
Thanks in advance.
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
1500 W. Pratt Blvd. #1
Chicago, IL 60626