Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.
Then, several verses later :
Matthew 16:17 Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Similarly in John :
John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 1:15 ¶John bare witness of him, and cried, saying: This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 1:19 ¶And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him: Who art thou ? 1:20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed: I am not the Christ. 1:26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 1:27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. 1:28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 1:29 ¶The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 1:32 And John bare record, saying: I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 1:35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 1:36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith: Behold the Lamb of God ! 1:40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
Followed, once again, a few verses later, by :
John 1:42 And when Jesus beheld him, he said: Thou art Simon the son of John / Jonah: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
Some manuscripts of John have John in 1:42, while others read Jonah; perhaps a simple scribal error, due to the name appearing nine times in the previous forty verses; or perhaps not; perhaps something similar is going on here to what is happening in Matthew; basically,
- in both instances, the name of an important prophet is brought up, and then, only verses later, that same prophet's name appears as Peter's ancestor. (It could, of course, be all just a simple coincidence; maybe both names were relatively popular among the Jews).
- in the initial Gospel, that of Matthew, which, by all accounts, precedes John by decades, the presence of Jonah makes logical sense, inasmuch as the aforementioned Apostle, along with his brother, Andrew, are described as fishers (4:18), being offered the opportunity of upgrading their lowly status by becoming fishers of men (4:19), which, given Jonah's unique status as the sole prophet to have ever been swallowed alive by a whale, and lived to tell the tale, fits rather conveniently into the original narrative.
Which finally brings us to the following question :
- in light of the above considerations, is the expression son of Jonah / John to be taken literally, or allegorically, or both ?