The Humor of Christ

By Elton Trueblood ( Quaker )

An ephemeral (and rightly so) study of the wit and ‘humor’ of our Lord. While I acknowledge the fullness of the humanity of Christ, and his use of piercing wit (for he has perfect knowledge of the hearts of men) and irony, this study falls far short of reasonable analysis, and into the pit of fancy. Trueblood relies heavily on quotes by predecessors such as Chesterton and contemporary writers of his time, while he’s emphasizing what he considers to be a ‘laugh out loud’ moment in the teachings of Christ, his sources seem to be in contention with his thesis.

What he brings to our attention is nothing new, and/or unrecognized in the theological community. It was plain practice for Hebrews to use sharp or extreme contrasts…

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. -Matt 18:9

…to vividly illustrate an important teaching. We all know, I hope, this passage is not literal, for we would all be blind, deaf and mute. What he wants, from Chapter 1, is for his readers to notice that Christ was not the ‘…mild in manner, endlessly patient, grave in speech and serious almost to the point of dourness,’ Christ caricature popular ‘Christianity’ (particulary in America) has shamefully espoused in the 20th century. I’ll raise my glass to his intent as well, and the truthfulness only if it’s expounded reasonably.


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