Jesus may not have been the Jerry Seinfeld of his day, says James Martin, S.J., but his original audience would have thought he was funny :

Think of it this way: the time from the Last Supper to the Crucifixion represent only about a week in Jesus’s life.  Most of the rest of his ministry—which lasted from one to three years–was often spent doing joyful things: sharing meals with disciples, welcoming those on the margins of society, healing the sick and preaching the “Good News.”  Along the way, he showed some good humor.

Where?  Well, we may not notice it because we’re too removed from it—culturally and temporally.  In Jesus’s time, for example, his parables were probably not seen as just clever but, as Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., professor of New Testament of Boston College told me, “hilarious.”  For people in first-century Palestine, the idea that someone with a plank of wood in his own eye would critique someone with a speck of dust in his was probably laugh-out-loud funny.  “The parables were amusing in their exaggeration and hyperbole,” said Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt.

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Articles by Joe Carter

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