Complex Anachronism: Peter Porter’s Jonah, Otherkind, Ancient and Contemporary Tempests, and the Divine

Anne Frances Elvey

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Australian poet Peter Porter collaborated with artist Arthur Boyd to produce their
collection Jonah (1973) based on the biblical book. Porter writes of the style of the sequence of poems as “complex anachronism,” bringing together biblical
resonances with contemporary social, ecological, and political themes. The
contemporary context of anthropogenic climate change invites complex questions concerning relations between humans, other species, climate, and the divine. There are no easy correspondences between the biblical Jonah narrative and the contemporary challenges of climate change. But my reading of Jonah 2:1-11 in conversation with Porter’s poetic retelling of Jonah’s sojourn in the whale and Shakespeare’s Caliban, is suggestive for reimagining our own complex hybrid agencies and their implications for divine-human relationships as humans face the
contemporary tempests of, and accompanying, anthropogenic climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-93
Number of pages15
JournalThe Bible and Critical Theory
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • climate change
  • ecological hermeneutics
  • Book of Jonah
  • The Tempest
  • Peter Porter

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