Divine mockery and laughing Rabbis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


My paper is dedicated to the role of humour in expressing theological ideas in the Babylonian Talmud. As an example, I analyse the narrative with a strong theological focus. In stories of this kind the acting characters are God and the Other involved in an ongoing collision. God plays the role of a scoffer, exposing the Other as an object of derision. The real objects of the mockery are theological views that the narrator would not like to have in his own environment: therefore, he projects them on the Other. Analysing appearances of mockery through theological debates I will show that ridicule here does not demonize the Other or minimize his importance nor does it pursue the goal of alienating him. As a rule, the laughter opens a moment of potential rupture in the continuity of interactions and produces some re-organization in order to steer the interaction once more towards continuity rather than towards chaotic turbulence. With the paradox, it is thoughtfully tried to subject the system of coexistence with the Other to the shock caused by the usage of the weapon of laughter; however, after the laughing situation, the previously inhabited borders are sought again in order to ensure the continuity of an updated order.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationHumour in the Beginning. Religion, humour and laughter in formative stages of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism
EditorsRoald Dijkstra, Paul Van Der Velde
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789027257468
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameTopics in Humor Research


  • Arameans
  • Assyria
  • Babylonian Talmud
  • Sennacherib
  • beard
  • hair
  • masculinity
  • mockery
  • narrative
  • rabbis
  • theology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Divine mockery and laughing Rabbis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this