The strange, and strangely disturbing story of Micaiah ben Imlah in 2 Chronicles 18 which repeats very closely its source in 1 Kings 221 it ticks all the boxes as a passage intended to be funny. And when you read it, it is hilarious. From Jehoshaphat’s gentle resistance through Zedekiah with a “Viking” helmet, and Micaiah telling porkies after swearing the truth, only when caught claiming a Lying spirit from Yahweh tricked him, to Micaiah’s last laugh from prison, the tale is a riot 🙂 But what is its point? So, here’s the link to the audio: Humour in the Bible, book 14: 2 ChroniclesRead More →

The prayer of Jabez was wildly popular a few years back among voguish Christians worried about the lack of obvious and excess prosperity in their lives (compared to those richer and general better off than them, not compared to the world population in general). Even without that 1 Chron 4:9-10 is funny (strange peculiar, if not humorous) in several ways: first narrative in Chron not part of surrounding genealogy seems stuck in Jabez does not seem to fit into the genealogies though there is a town of that name inhabited by possibly Kenite scribes and begins “there was” vayyehi like stories do though there areRead More →

Since Google suggests the first chapter of 2 Kings is humorous I’ll measure it against the criteria. It meets most (but not all) which i think makes it clear this passage is not merely funny but was intended to be funny. Though again it is a “black” humour. As a bonus I’ll offer a reading of the passage, it seems a shame to be talking about humour but not be “allowed” to get any laughs 🙁 NB: this reading is basically the NRSV, which being a very literal translation captures the fairy tale quality of the telling rather well. Special bonus: reading of 2 KingsRead More →

Idols, “gods” that people make! The very idea of making a god is one of those notions that almost have to reduce you to tears (whether of laughter or sadness and desperation depends on the circumstances), and the Bible has plenty of fun at the expense (in both senses) of idols. In this episode, therefore, we’ll look at 1 Kings 18 (particularly 1Kings 18:27 & 39).1 PS: for those who want to follow the reference to El and Anat mourning Ba’al by cutting themselves see my post with a translation of the relevant Ugaritic text. There is fuller background on this in 1 Kings 16:29Read More →

Judges is one Bible book where it has been common to recognise humour. Ehud killing the fat and oppressive king Eglon in the toilet has been a popular example, though  I’ll pretty much leave the scatology to David and others who appreciate it 😉 I’d rather focus on gender. In Judges relationships between men and women are either funny or horrible. The story of Deborah (Judges 4) may provide examples, but the humour in the poem (Judges 5) is much clearer. It shows all nine of my diagnostic signs of humour. And develops some powerful (and this being Judges disturbing) gender bending humour. Though afterRead More →

The little story, in Joshua 2, of Rahab and the clueless pair of young Israelite would be spies, provided Spenser1  (see Signs of humour: especially in written texts acr oss cultures) with a nice example of several of his criteria all together in one text, making it evidently humorous. What do you think? Do the criteria work? Or is this vignette deadly serious?     F. Scott Spencer “Those Riotous – Yet Righteous – Foremothers of Jesus: Exploring Matthew’s Comic Genealogy.” In Are we amused?: humour about women in the biblical worlds, edited by Athalya Brenner, 7-30. Continuum, 2003 [↩]Read More →