Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ancient Jewish Humour

Mark Goodacre's latest podcast on humour in Paul reminded me of a few funny early Jewish texts: Tobit, Judith, Bel and the Dragon, and Susannah are all funny in their way, but the text that takes the cake, in my experience, is the Testament of Abraham--especially if read slowly in Greek, as a group of us did this summer. In the introduction to his major commentary on the Testament of Abraham, Dale Allison explains that he chose this text because his kids liked it so much when he read it to them.

Texts like this help to contextualize and evaluate the question whether or not Paul was funny. And while humour is, no doubt, "a cultural thing", these texts show that some aspects of ancient humour are transcultural. Last but not least, they are a lot of fun to read.

What other funny ancient Jewish or Christian texts would you recommend?

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