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[John_Lit] Humor/Irony in the Fourth Gospel

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  • CStarWrk@aol.com
    I have just read, On Humour and the Comic in the Hebrew Bible, edited by Yehuda T. Radday and Athalya Brenner, The Almond Press, 1990, and Humour and Irony in
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 1999
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      I have just read, On Humour and the Comic in the Hebrew Bible, edited by
      Yehuda T. Radday and Athalya Brenner, The Almond Press, 1990, and Humour and
      Irony in the New Testament by Jacob Jonsson, E.J. Brill, 1985. Both examine
      the use of humor in scripture.

      I seems to me that there is quite of bit of humor in the book of John, but I
      have seen little published on it. Some of the humor is in the ironic
      contrasts, other in the situation.

      For example there is a mighty contrast between the elderly scholar Nicodemus
      approaching Jesus at night and the Samaritan woman at the well. Nicodemus
      clearly comes seeking to discuss theology with Jesus and yet can’t catch on
      to a simple figure of speech--being born again (or from above). Jesus
      doesn’t seem to have much time for him. By contrast, Jesus discusses living
      water, the proper nature of worship and reveals himself as divine to a
      supposedly unlearned woman who has had many husbands. This dialogue is
      interrupted when the disciples coming bungling in, worried about the fact
      that Jesus is talking with a woman and that Jesus hasn’t eaten.

      The story of the man who was born blind reminds me a situation comedy. Jesus
      and the disciples encounter a blind man. The disciples are more concerned
      about whose sin was the cause of the man’s blindness rather than having
      compassion on the man. Once the man is healed of his blindness no one is
      willing to step forward and acknowledge the miracle--not even his parents.
      It seems to me that the Pharisees are being satirized here--they are more
      concerned about the fact that the healing was done on the Sabbath rather than
      the fact that the man can now see. There seems to me to be a great deal of
      humor/irony in the Pharisees questioning Jesus, “What? Are we blind too?”
      Certainly there is a spiritual message here. The man born blind comes to see
      and believe that Jesus is the Son of Man and worship him. It appears that
      humor is being used to punctuate the serious message of the text.

      Do others recognize humor in other parts of the fourth gospel? Can someone
      point me to a more recent bibliography?

      Charles Starkey, MDIV
      Canoga Park, CA
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