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e-book A Time to Laugh: Humor in the Bible

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Can you picture him changing water into wine to keep a wedding party rolling and never cracking a smile? Can you fathom a master story teller who never used humor? There are many kinds of humor. There is humorous hyperbole, irony, the humor of baffled disbelief. A careful reading of the Scriptures shows that Jesus employed some of these in his ministry, even though we sometimes miss his humor in our overfamiliarity with the text.

Then there are his zingers about people who strain out gnats and swallow camels. He said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. These incongruities prompt a kind of laughter. Finally, think about the nature of joy itself. Chesterton said that joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian. To him, humor is a component of a glad heart.

Lewis said that the purest laughter on earth dwells in the kingdom of joy. The servants of Nabal say, "He is such a son of Belial [a devil] that a man cannot speak to him! In this same story Greenspoon finds humor in names and wordplay. The root of Nabal's name—"n-b-l"— and the word "fool" appears as two nouns one of which appears in the expression for "wine skin"; Nabal is a drunk. With the vocalization that is, vowels I am thinking of, the word means carcass or corpse.

Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely! - Biblical Archaeology Society

Surely, Nabal was a 'dead man' when he crossed David as he did. The same consonants also make up a noun meaning 'foolishness', the very noun that Abigail used to describe her husband in her plea to David. Reading back then, we can sense a double play on words, as it were, by the narrator of this account". Walker says, "The Bible reads like a rogue's gallery of unlikely heroes Gideon the coward, Samson the bully, David the trickster".

Macy says this entire scene with David is humorous, but King Achish's response is the epitome of Biblical sarcasm: "Am I so short on insane people in my own kingdom you bring me more from other places? Walker says this demonstrates "David's trickster aspect is an equal-employment jester, 'laughable for how it succeeds in duping others and how it recoils to dupe the mischiefmaker". Religion Professor and Presbyterian minister Conrad Hyers finds humor in Elijah's ridicule of "the priests of Baal who wailed and slashed themselves in the hope that Baal would send fire from Heaven.


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Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling; or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened! All scholars who find humor in the Bible agree it can be found in the book of Proverbs. Shutter gives numerous example such as: "A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again. In other words, a man of violent temper is always getting into difficulties; you have no sooner helped him out of one than he has plunged madly into another.

Like the irascible person in the old nursery rhyme, who "jumped into a bramble bush and scratched out both his eyes", he is no sooner extricated than "with all his might and main, he jumps into another bush and puts them out again. Shutter also says humor is often used to communicate morality claiming "Can a man take fire in his bosom And his clothes not be burned?

Shutter includes "Wealth makes many "friends"; poverty drives them all away" and "Many curry favor with a ruler, and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts" as social satire. He pursues them with words, but they are gone. His Aunt, a member of the great and always established Church of the Pharisees, sent him her blessing--and a tract! Shutter says biting Biblical humor often gives insight into human nature: "All people spend their lives scratching for food, but they never seem to have enough.

Ridicule and political commentary have gone hand in hand for many centuries. According to Shutter, when Jeremiah describes the disaster that fell on Egypt's allies, the comments that follow to the King of Egypt drip with scorn: "Pharaoh, King of Egypt, is but a noise. He hath let the appointed time pass by. Walker explains that "A crucial function of humor in the Bible is to persuade the self-righteous to laugh at themselves--a process that proves especially enlightening when the self-righteous turn out to be us.

Verse of the Day - Day 66

Jonah sasses God. Heathen Ninevites and scurrilous sailors prove more pious than the prophet [Jonah], who is subjected unceremoniously to his comeuppance. Shutter compares this to the character Mr. Mantalini in Charles Dickens ' Nicholas Nickleby. Leonard Greenspoon says "Like Jonah, the book of Esther is filled with a number of plots and subplots, the humor of which is not always immediately evident. Walker finds humor in the comic reversal in Esther.

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The king asks one night, "What should be done for a man whom the king desires to honor? Haman assumes the king means Haman himself and answers in vivid detail. He is then required to give it all to his worst enemy. Walker also points out the pivotal role in the book of Esther is built around a female, which is a situation filled with cultural commentary and irony. Walker says, "The wit of Esther, by turning our usual expectations upside down, reminds us to expect the unexpected.

Laughter in the Hebrew Bible

People who have looked closely find the book so funny Esther emerges as perhaps the clearest embodiment of the comic vision among all the Biblical narratives. Walker and Macy both cite the careful attention to words and wordplays in this book, while Walker also includes Esther in what he calls "genial gender humor" where, he says, women often prove to be "more dynamic characters" than their male counterparts and always seem to get the "last scriptural word". This is in keeping with the frequently articulated theme of biblical humor that demonstrates and reflects God's infinite ability to disrupt the plans of finite humans, especially the seemingly powerful.

Hyers says " Paul had an unusual way of selling the gospel. His techniques have not been widely followed Nor has he been hailed as a pioneer in the world of advertising. The cross is foolishness. Preaching is foolishness. Christians are called to be fools for Christ's sake. The Apostles are ridiculed as fools, "a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men" 1 Cor.

He teases to teach, uses grand exaggeration, enjoys parody and reversal, and even creates vivid comic [word] pictures. Hyers says " Jesus freely used humor, irony and satire" and offers the examples of "the blind leading the blind; straining out a gnat, then swallowing a camel; meticulously cleaning the outside of a cup while leaving the inside filthy; maintaining whitewashed tombs that are outwardly beautiful but inwardly full of dead men's bones; loudly honoring past prophets while plotting to kill present ones who preach the same message.

Biblical scholar F. Bruce finds the story of Rhoda in Acts —15 "full of vivid humour".

When Rhoda hears the voice of Peter , miraculously released from prison , she becomes so happy that she forgets to open the door and let him in. The Bible has inspired a multitude of art and fiction in many categories, including humor and comedy. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Canons and books. Tanakh Torah Nevi'im Ketuvim. Christian biblical canons. Just a little before Eve. Who was the fastest runner in the race? He was first in the human race. Why are atoms Catholic?

Laughter And Humor

Because they have mass. Because Noah was always standing on the deck 5. He only had two worms. Did Eve ever have a date with Adam? Nope — just an apple. Why did the unemployed man get excited while reading his Bible? He thought he saw a job. Does God love everyone?

They create many jams. He just knew there was something fishy about it. What kind of man was Boaz before he married Ruth? Absolutely ruthless Mosquitoes come close, though. What kind of car does Jesus typically drive? A Christler.

Someone who goes around knocking on doors for no apparent reason. What excuse did Adam give his children about why he no longer lived in Eden? Your mother ate us out of house and home! Which servant of God was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible? He broke all 10 commandments at once.