The Big Question 90: Is There Humour In The Bible?
Feb 22, 2022 855
Is there humour in the Bible?
Of course, there’s humour in the Bible! The Bible was written by around 35 different people. The fact that they were inspired by God didn’t fry their brains or erase their personalities and their sense of humour.
Of course, humour is a personal thing, so some Bible writers can be funnier than others. It’s hard, for example to imagine the prophet Jeremiah cracking a joke. He’s not called the weeping prophet for nothing.
Of course, the Bible is a serious book. But sometimes it deals with serious issues with a bit of a smile.
The Bible doesn’t ban laughing. In fact, it encourages it! Humour that is appropriate and doesn’t come at the expense of others represents some of the best of human interaction. If human beings got everything that’s good from God, then that means that God has a sense of humour as well. I’m sure God had a chuckle as he reviewed what the authors of the Bible had written.
The thing about humour is that it’s very dependent on your language and culture. Shakespeare’s plays, for example, were hilarious in their own time. They were full of the humour of the gutter. But today, when we read them, the humour goes way over our heads because we live in a different time and culture. Today we think Shakespeare’s plays are all very serious and only for the cultured.
Anyway, let me give you some examples of humour in the Bible that would have been hilarious in their original context.
What about Elijah on Mt Carmel, when he mocks the prophets of Baal:
At noon, Elijah began making fun of them. “Pray louder!” he said. “Baal must be a god. Maybe he’s daydreaming or using the toilet or traveling somewhere. Or maybe he’s asleep, and you have to wake him up” (1 Kings 18:27, CEV.)
It’s interesting that only some of the more contemporary Bible translations are brave enough to translate what is literally toilet humour. Obviously some translators don’t think there’s humour in the Bible, either!
What about when David pretended to be insane in front of Achish, the king of Gath, so that the king wouldn’t return him to Saul. King Achish said,
…“Must you bring me a madman? 15 We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?” (1 Sam. 21:14–15.)
What about what the Bible says about the death of King Jeroham of Judah:
No one was sorry he died (2 Chron. 21:20.)
It’s not the purpose of the Bible to be funny and entertain us. And translators have often made the humour in the Bible difficult to see.
But yes, there is humour in the Bible. Much of it, because of cultural reasons and language differences, is humour we may not “get.” But there’s still humour there at which we can have a chuckle.