After all, Jesus supposedly said: The whole point of Jonah was not about Gods ability to conjure up man-swallowing fish; it was that Yahweh loves even the depraved folk of Nineveh (and their cattle).
The 6th century BC scribe who wrote Jonah used the name of a prophet mentioned in 2 Kings to make a point about the worthiness of evangelising to the heathen.
By such means, the scribes could resolve a current issue by interpreting what the scripture had really meant all along.
False accreditation was another much used method, common practice during antiquity.
The theological point could be made simply our god loves all who repent, dont be reluctant, go and tell it to the heathen but would that entertain the crowd?
Simple folk of course would start to take the entertaining story as a literal truth.
And this all before they became the custodians of power and had real reasons for lies, inventions and counterfeits.
But faith absolves the believer from any fidelity to objective truth.What perhaps is missed is that Christian theology is several levels deep: it uses fictional characters to tell fictional stories to make doctrinal points.Some dogmatists no doubt believed (still believe) that one day, long ago, a real whale swallowed a real Jonah.In fact action of this kind ought not to be called deceit, but rather a kind of good management, cleverness and skill, capable of finding out ways where resources fail, and making up for the defects of the mind ...And often it is necessary to deceive, and to do the greatest benefits by means of this device, whereas he who has gone by a straight course has done great mischief to the person whom he has not deceived."'Golden Mouth' John is notable for his extensive commentaries on the Bible which emphasized a literal understanding of the stories; the style popular at Alexandria until then was to acknowledge an allegorical meaning of the text.