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Humor in the New Testament?

Is there any humor in the New Testament? Everything seems extremely serious.


Like the Old Testament, the New Testament has a fair bit of humor, much of it rather subtle.

Isn’t there humor in Jesus’ image of a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle (Mt 19:24; Mk 10:25; and Lk 18:25)? Some Scripture commentators conjectured Jerusalem had an “eye of the needle” gate, but no one has found any evidence of such a gate.

Jesus points out the hypocrisy of his opponents who felt John the Baptist was too ascetic and yet criticized Jesus for eating and drinking with tax collectors and prostitutes (Mt 11:18–19).

There is both irony and humor in Mary’s proclamation, “The hungry [God] has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:53).

The Letter of James says that it would be laughable if a Christian effusively welcomed to the community’s worship a well-dressed rich man wearing five gold rings yet that same Christian ignored a poor person who approached the same assembly (2:1–4).

St. Paul compares himself to a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal if he should speak with human and angelic tongues and yet not have love (1 Cor 13:1).

The Bible is all about God’s self-revelation. Although that is serious business, who are we to forbid God from using humor as part of that self-revelation? G.K. Chesterton famously wrote that angels can fly because they don’t take themselves seriously. Lucifer’s lack of a sense of humor got him in trouble.


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