Friday, 15 January 2010

Humour in the Bible (1)

I alluded to a wonderful biblical pun in my sermon last Sunday, and that got me to be thinking about humour in the Bible. (Please let me know if you can spot last Sunday’s allusion, the sermon is published on this Blog).

There are many genres of humour, such as  understatement, satire, irony, parody, repartee, punning, wit -  to name but a few.   

Bear them in mind as you read the scriptures -  and you’ll come across some gems of humour.

I’ll identify some of them in the next few days.

My first choice is what I consider to be a very funny story from Genesis Chapter 3.  Here I quote it  from the King James (Authorized)  Version.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
 10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
 11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
 12And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
 13And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 

There’s a ton of silliness in this biblical myth, silliness which should cause us to grin, even if we do not laugh out loud.

There is Adam’s notion that he could hide from God.   Surely this is recorded with “tongue in cheek” humour.

Adam’s response to the Lord God is also funny.  First he tries to blame God viz “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me” i.e.   it’s all your fault God -  you gave me this woman.

Then Adam passes the buck again as  he blames the woman, implying that he would never have eaten of the fruit, but the woman “made him so it”.

In some senses the woman also passes the buck, by blaming the serpent.  On the other hand, her response shows a certain level of honesty  when she says “I was beguiled”.

The big humour in this story is that it is an amusingly perceptive tale of the human condition. Running and hiding, passing the buck, blaming others, allowing ourselves to be beguiled/deceived by flattery -  all these are part and parcel of our human experience.

So I grin when I read the tale and think:  “this is so damn right.  It’s just like me”!

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