Re: nt humor

From: Carl William Conrad (
Date: Thu Feb 05 1998 - 12:52:01 EST

On Thu, 5 Feb 1998, Jim West wrote:

> granted the possibility exists that Jesus had a sense of humor, it is
> impossible to recover such because the writers and editors of the nt have so
> obliterated the historical jesus that he is no longer recoverable. that
> goes for his sense of humor as well- unfortunately.

Well, this depends very much on one's hermeneutics and understanding of
the relationship of the gospels to the historical Jesus, both of which are
areas best not delved into in this forum. I think, however, it is probably
not very controversial to look for Jesus' humor in parables even if
nowhere else--and I think there's an abundance in that area, which I won't
endeavor to spell out here.

I do think that the tendency, in Mark especially, but not altogether
absent from the other synoptic gospels, to portray the disciples as (to
put it mildly) short-sighted (TUFLOS is the word that Jesus uses) is
deliberate. Here again a number of interpretative options are available,
depending on one's stances on the questions I've mentioned: (1) one can
argue that it derives from the historical situation itself; (2) one can
argue that it is part of the evangelist's strategy of narration; or (3)
one can argue that it's Peter's beating himself over the head for having,
in fact, been so stupid during the life and ministry of Jesus. One might
perhaps even mix and match these theories. :)

Perhaps more controversial would be the question off humor in the Pauline
letters. I happen to think it's there, but I suspect that it would be hard
to achieve much objectivity in the effort to evaluate it.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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