Book Review: The Humor Of Jesus

The Humor Of Jesus:  Sources Of Laughter In The Bible, by Earl F. Palmer

As one of the eight books I purchased during Black Friday shopping this year in Estacada, I figured this book would be the source of humorous anecdotes as well as a look at the humor of the Bible that would help my own personal discussions as well as feed my own great interest in humor [1].  This book more than met those expectations, especially because it had an approach that took the Bible seriously, and in so doing saw the multiple layers of humor that exist in the Bible.  Even more of interest to those of us who enjoy humor in our lives and in our writings, the author managed to contrast the biblical view of irony and humor with the views we see around us that are either gnostic or overly dark, and in so doing placed biblical humor in a particular context with certain boundaries about avoiding humor that serves to deride or ridicule others and also remember that in a genuine biblical irony (such as the kind of irony I often write about and experience) both the physical and spiritual layers are genuine.  This view of humor itself is a great encouragement to the reader who may enjoy humor but may not think it to be something that is important to God, but rather an aspect of childish immaturity that remains with us long after we have begun to grow old and decrepit.

As a short book, this is not one that wastes the time of the reader.  The author has a lot to say about humor in the Bible, particularly in the approach of Jesus Christ but also among the Apostles Paul and Peter and the psalmists and prophets of the Hebrew scriptures and even to the days of early human history in Genesis.  At only 120 pages, this is a book that can be read profitably quickly, and also the sort of book that is particularly useful for those looking to share the comedy of the Bible with other brethren in conversation, public speaking, and writing.  Despite the brevity of the book, though, the author includes quite a few humorous personal anecdotes as well as a discussion of those movies, comedians, and writers whom he views as being the most comical.  The structure of the book itself is rather topical in nature:  the author introduces the subject of humor, then discusses the many facets of humor, then discusses Jesus Christ specifically as a humorist, and then discusses the source of humor in the twin human fondness for the unexpected and repetition.  After this the author discusses a staggering variety of types of humor, all of them with biblical examples, from the humor of the unexpected and the humor of repetition already mentioned to the humor of justice, misunderstanding, exaggeration, irony, healing humor, argument, salty humor, as well as love and joy.  The end result is a book that serves as its own sort of healing humor for those readers who have been told that God is a serious being without any appreciation of wit or levity.

Nevertheless, although this book is very useful and very entertaining and also very enlightening, there are a few things that can be said against it.  For one, the author has a mistaken view of the chronology of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, albeit one that is commonly held, and the continual repetition of the wrong days when Jesus Christ said or did something is a bit tiresome after a while.  The second major flaw with this work is that the publisher involved (Regent College Publishing of Vancouver, British Columbia–the other Vancouver) really fell down on the job when it came to copyediting this book.  The spelling errors in this book are numerous enough to be a bit distracting to the reader who is having to replace the right names for literary characters from Tolkien or the names of historical personages whose names are misspelled, as well as a few other stray typos.  To be sure, these typos do not make the book a bad one, but this author clearly needs some help in copyediting and his publisher should have provided some resources for him in that fashion, and as a fluent writer myself, I certainly well understand how an author needs help from time to time making sure that the cleanliness of the text does not interfere with the joy of reading.  This book, even with its flaws, is a joy to read, and one I will likely look at in the future when planning material to write or speak about.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/16/book-review-theres-nothing-in-the-middle-of-the-road-but-yellow-stripes-and-dead-armadillos/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/14/book-review-alexander-hamiltons-guide-to-life/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/06/book-review-creative-people-must-be-stopped/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/10/27/back-in-the-u-s-s-r/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/10/17/laughing-stock/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/07/26/he-who-laughs-last-thinks-slowest/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/01/26/comedy-is-a-choice/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/03/23/comedy-and-the-art-of-the-roast/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/01/10/on-the-unity-of-tragedy-comedy-and-history/

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About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Book Reviews, Christianity, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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