April 17, 2006

Jesus's Jewish wit

In an insightful review of the Gnostic "Gospel of Judas," Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker says:

"One of the unnerving things about the new Gospel is that Jesus, who never laughs in the canonic Gospels, is constantly laughing in this one, and it’s obviously one of those sardonic, significant, how-little-you-know laughs, like the laugh of the ruler of a dubious planet on 'Star Trek.'"

Your Lying Eyes points out, however, that the Gospel of John has quite a few instances of wit. Humor is highly dependent on surprising changes of reference, and so it tends to have a short half-life as the surprises get incorporated into the culture and are thus no longer surprising to those who come along later. That's why acting companies have to work frantically to milk any laughs out of Shakespeare's plays today, and Lenny Bruce's routines from less than 50 years ago fall flat. So, it's hardly surprising that even an acute observer like Gopnik could overlook the humor in the New Testament.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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