One of the first questions often posed in a discussion on Jonah is, “Was it real?” People debate whether the story is a factual account of a large fish gobbling and then regurgitating Jonah or whether it is more akin to a C.S. Lewis story that has true lessons to teach, using a story medium to convey them (think Chronicles of Narnia or The Great Divorce). That is a subject that is almost moot to discuss. (God certainly has the ability to make a fish grand enough to accomplish the task. He is God!)
Our goal needs to be to understand the narrative for its purposes rather than to debate the feasibility of the events. This is especially important as Mark Lanier considers the book of Jonah. This book has some incredible Hebrew word play, some very important messages both for Israel in its day and for the church in perpetuity, and it asks questions on an individual level that challenge people who wish to live right before God.