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Question and Answer

Is there humor in the Bible?

Question:

Is there humor in the Bible? Please give the chapter and verse of instances of something that was written for the purpose of humor.

Answer:

Thank you for your question.

The Bible has many examples of oriental humor in the forms of wit or pun (play on words). In Genesis 11:9 there is a play on words in the account of the tower of Babel (the name itself is a transliteration of the Hebrew babel) and the confusion (balal) of tongues.

According to Genesis 18:12 Sarah laughed upon hearing that the Lord declared that she would bare a son. And according to Genesis 21:3 Sarah bore that promised son and named him Isaac (“Laughter”). There are hundreds more examples of puns in the Old Testament.

There are many examples of wit or humor in the New Testament. There is the ridiculous contrast between a speck and a beam in Matthew 7:3–5. Then there is the ludicrous idea of straining out a small insect from wine yet swallowing a camel in Matthew 23:24. 

Having said that, we must also note that not one of these humorous things was said or written in order to entertain. They were to call sharp attention to the absurdity of sin, or to emphasize the wonders of grace.

I hope that this is a help to you.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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