This morning I was listening to a lecture by Amy Jill Levine in her Old Testament course for the Teaching Company. She was talking about some of the more humorous passages in the Book of Judges. There is the whole deal about Eglon being fat and Jael figuratively emasculating Sisera.
I’m aware that there is humor in the Bible, but I feel like I often times miss it when I’m doing ordinary reading or listening to a reading in church. I think a main part of the reason for this is the perceived seriousness of the context in which the readings often take place for me.
I guess I’m never sitting in mass listening to the lectionary readings thinking: Oh man, that was absolutely hilarious! And, if I did, I’m sure that I would get a solemn scowl from some of the people sitting around me like: “Jesus doesn’t love you very much when you laugh at the Bible young man.”
I’m pretty sure they teach the lectors to have a reverent demeanor when they are reading. And, I guess that works often times. But, that’s not really to conducive to getting jokes across.
The other part of it I suppose is that being so distant from the culture of Ancient Israel the jokes are almost like inside jokes. Even when I do get the joke, it is almost like that uncomfortable feeling when you’re in a group of people and you laugh after everyone else does. And, then everyone looks at you like, “What are you laughing at? You couldn’t even possibly get that joke lame-o.”