Original Research

Can the phenomenon of humour serve as an interpretive key to understand the idea of laughter in the Old Testament?

Hennie A.J. Kruger
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 48, No 1 | a1772 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v48i1.1772 | © 2014 Hennie A.J. Kruger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 October 2013 | Published: 28 November 2014

About the author(s)

Hennie A.J. Kruger, School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


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Abstract

In the past humour was frowned upon by some, but more recently it has become part of innocuous communication between members of society. Against this background, authors also claim that humour functions in the Bible. Very few, if any, are convinced that the opposite might be true. Numerous attempts have been made to determine the meaning of, and develop definitions and theories pertaining to the concept of humour. However, until now no consensus has been reached regarding these concepts. The physiological and psychological meaning of the phenomenon is noted, but the relationship between humour and literary types has attracted more attention. Determining the time of the origin of the concept may indicate a difference in meaning between a contemporary Western and ancient Near Eastern or Middle Eastern (and Israelite) understanding of laughter, humour and mockery, respectively.

Kan die verskynsel van humor dien as ’n sleutel van interpretasie om die lagbegrip in dieOu Testament te verstaan? In die verlede is humor deur sommige persone afgekeur, maar meer onlangs het die verskynsel egter ’n integrale deel van gemeensame kommunikasie in die samelewing geword. Dus beweer baie skrywers nou dat humor selfs in die Bybel voorkom. Baie min, indien enige, is daarvan oortuig dat die teenoorgestelde waar kan wees. Talle pogings is al aangewend om die betekenis van, asook ’n definisie en teorie in verband met die humorkonsep te formuleer. Tot op hede is daar egter nog geen konsensus in hierdie verband bereik nie. Daar is rekening gehou met die fisiologiese en psigologiese betekenis van die verskynsel, maar die moontlike verband tussen humor en literêre vorme het egter meer aandag getrek. Die bepaling van die ontstaanstyd van die verskynsel kan onderskeidelik op ’n verskil in betekenis tussen ’n kontemporêre Westerse en ou Nabye Oosterse of Midde-Oosterse (en Israelietiese) begrip van die konsepte lag, humor en bespotting dui.


Keywords

Humour, Old Testament, interpretation

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