Humor Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Humor in Scripture</span></strong></p><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Genesis 19:14</a>, Lot and his sons-in-law</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Genesis 21:6</a>, Sarah laughs</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Numbers 22:27-28</a>, the satire of Balaam and the donkey</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Judges 6:11-12</a>, humorous situation of Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press</span></li><li><span style="font-size: 13.008px;"><span class="body-copy"><a href="">1 Kings 18:27</a>, the sarcasm of Elijah mocking because the fake gods wouldn&#39;t awaken and perform acts</span></span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Proverbs 17:22</a>, &quot;a cheerful heart is a good medicine&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Proverbs 28:14-15</a>, the satire of the lazy person</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Ecclesiastes 3:4</a>, there is a &quot;time to weep, and a time to laugh.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Exodus 2:8-9</a>, the irony of Pharaoh&#39;s daughter asks Moses&#39; mother to nurse Moses for her after finding Moses</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Esther 7:10</a>, the irony of hanging Haman on the gallows prepareed for Mordecai</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Job 12:2</a>, the sarcasm of Job saying &quot;no doubt you are the people, and the wisdom will die with you.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Jonah 3:8</a>, an exaggeration or hyperbole of humans and animals covered with sackcloth</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 7:3</a>, the exaggeration or hyperbole of the statement &quot;why do you see the speck in your neighbor&#39;s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="">Matthew 23:24</a>, the exaggeration or hyperbole of &quot;You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.</span></li></ul><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Humor</span></strong></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Nature of humor</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy">&quot;The Bible does not contain a term for humor. This word derives from Latin, and refers to the ancient belief that the body contained four liquids, or `humors&#39; (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) that affected health and temperament. The present significance of the word &mdash; having an amusing or comic quality &mdash; dates from the late 16th century.&quot;&nbsp;</span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">What makes something humorous?</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy">&quot;Various theories have attempted to explain the nature of humor. The three main kinds are relief theory, superiority theory, and incongruity theory. Relief theory explains humor in sexual jokes and malicious jokes. These jokes represent a relaxation of social restraint, according to proponents of relief theory like Sigmund Freud. The superiority theory explains why mocking others is found by some to be humorous, and is sometimes found in the Bible. The story of Ehud and Eglon in Judg. 3:15-30, for example, mocks the Moabites by presenting their king as gluttonous and gullible and his guards as slow-witted.&quot;&nbsp;<span class="body-copy-sm">(From the&nbsp;<em>Lexham Bible Dictionary</em>, &quot;Humor&quot;)</span></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy"><span class="heading-sm"><strong>Theory of Humor</strong></span></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy">&quot;The most promising theory of humor for understanding the Bible is the incongruity theory. This idea explains humor as the linking of disparate things in a fresh and sometimes disrupting way, and is the sort of humor we primarily find in the Bible: Sarah having a child as an old woman (Gen. 21:6-7), Mordecai, son of Jair, being honored by the king instead of Haman (Esth. 6:3-11), and a crucified man being hailed as the savior of the world (1 Cor 1:18).&quot; <span class="body-copy-sm">(From the&nbsp;<em>Lexham Bible Dictionary</em>, &quot;Humor&quot;)</span></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Laughter and Sorrow</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy">In Scripture, laughter is the music of both the merry and mournful soul. &quot;Even in laughter the heart is sad, and the end of joy is grief&quot; (Prov. 14:13). &quot;Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad&quot; (Eccles. 7:13). Other perceptive voices note this linkage as well: &quot;Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven&quot; (Mark Twain). &quot;There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt&quot;.(Erma Bombeck). &quot;Laughter <em>transforms </em>pain &mdash; humor is sorrow&#39;s catalytic converter. It&#39;s the emotional process by which we&#39;re able to convert the dark substance of living into something that can be expelled like carbon dioxide&quot; (Joe Fassler).</span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Humor as an Expression of Scorn</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy">Humor, like laughter, can be positive and good-natured or negative and derisive (see Ps. 2:4, 37:13 for examples of God&#39;s scornful laughter, and Job 12:4, Psalm 52:6, and Matt, 9:24 for examples of humanity&#39;s scornful laughter). Freud believed that humor arose from disguised hostility &mdash; a refined form of aggression and hatred. Art Spiegelman writes, &quot;Whenever I&#39;m considering why something&#39;s funny or not, I always tell myself: <em>find the victim</em>. Humor is targeted. It may be aimed at an individual, at an institution, or the entire superstructure of rational thinking. But something is always being skewered.&quot;</span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy"><span class="lead-copy"><span class="heading-sm"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Humor as a Gift of Grace</span></strong></span></span></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy"><em>The New York Times</em> notes: &quot;Studies show that humor improves our health, helps us get along better with others and even makes us smarter. . . . Laughter literally loosens up our blood vessels, promoting healthy circulation, in a way similar to aerobic exercise. . . . In one famous humor study conducted by James Rotton at Florida International University, subjects who watched funny movies after surgery requested 25 percent less pain medication. Another study showed that watching an episode of <em>Friends</em> reduced anxiety three times as effectively as just sitting and resting. Subjects also performed better on cognitive tests, such as word-association problems, after reading funny jokes and watching videos of Robin Williams performing stand-up comedy.&quot;</span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy"><strong><span class="heading-sm">Humor as a Rhetorical Device</span></strong></span></span></p><p><span class="lead-copy"><span class="body-copy">Effective humor can be a useful device to establish connection between a preacher and congregation as well as to regain listeners&#39; attention. At a deeper level, as humor functions by highlighting life&#39;s incongruities through surprise/misdirection and contradiction/paradox, it has the cognitive power to startle listeners into new awareness.</span></span></p>