I have argued before that Esther is full of sexual and/or gendered humour, but that was before I took the topic of humour in the Bible (documents from very different cultural contexts from ours) seriously. Now however I have nine criteria to measure whether it is likely that authors intended the humour we find. These are all present in Esther chapter 1: incongruity lighthearted mood surprise ingenuity (cleverness is often a mark of humour think of puns) hyperbole inferiority disguise or something or someone pretending to be something else “inelasticity” (following Bergson) human pretension revealed in all its lack of glory! So, enjoy 🙂 http://5minutebible.com/audio/humour17esther.mp3Read More →

Nehemiah and his heroes rebuild the wall, notice the superhuman strength of the guys holding up a huge block of stone, while Nehemiah reads a proclamation. Nehemiah seems like a typical Sunday School story of a book, a sort of hero story made even less interesting by being told by the hero. Like Ezra it is not the first place I’d look searching for humour in Scripture. Yet, I think reading Nehemiah 6 we can trace more than one example of humour, at least one subtle and another quite open. See what you think 🙂 http://5minutebible.com/audio/humour16nehemiah.mp3Read More →

For 1 Samuel I am going to cheat again, I just don’t think I can beat the hilarious introduction the first king, Saul, receives. In these two podcasts (again repeated) 1 Introducing Saul Still Introducing Saul   I’ll point up some of the fun in the tale of Saul and the donkeys 🙂 So, here are links to the audio: http://5minutebible.com/audio/saul1.mp3 http://5minutebible.com/audio/saul2.mp3   Notes   [ + ] 1. ↑ Introducing Saul Still Introducing SaulRead More →

Ruth is a lovely story, it’s humour is 1 Chapter three is a possible exception  – and the humour there, if there is humour, is disguised and sexual, so very difficult to spot with confidence across cultures! gentle and subtle. Part of the subtlety is that most (though not all) of the signs of humour are missing. However, I think we are intended to smile in at least two ways in the portrayal of the characters. For this entry in the humour series I am repeating my podcast on chapter 2, where I think several of the signs are present, if subtly: incongruity: found I’llRead More →

David Ker, in one of the posts that stimulated this series, poses the serious and significant question: given the cultural gulf that separates us from the authors of Scripture how can we be sure something we see as funny tickled ancient Hebrew funny bones? Spotting humour is easier in speech than writing, and spotting humour is difficult across cultures. Anyone who has worked in a different culture knows how people’s “sense of humour” is to a considerable extent culturally determined. There’s a whole academic discipline studying such questions, and several biblical scholars have put these studies to work. For we have such a cross-cultural writtenRead More →

These four chapters tell the story of God’s prophet Jonah (who attentive Bible students know from 2 kings 14:25: He restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher. This true prophet runs away from  God, says a long prayer inside a fish, preaches a five word sermon and converts the capital of an unusually brutal empire, and then tells God off grumpily! The story of Jonah is told in ways thatRead More →