Enriching the Text

So today in my Hebrew Bible class, we were divided into six groups to discuss three different questions, two groups per question. The group I was assigned to was given the topic of engaging the book of Ecclesiastes through the lens of satire. We were to read a quick piece on satire a couple weeks ago discussing The Colbert Report and The Daily Show and how those shows use satire to dive into and discuss deeper issues. We were to ponder the implications of if we read books such as Ecclesiastes and Job as being satire.

Stephen Colbert

For me, this doesn’t change the effect of the Bible because there are quite clearly different styles of writing within: narrative, genealogies, parables, letters, sermons, etc. Why couldn’t satire be included in that non-exhaustive list? If that is what the author intended it to be, then we need to take it as such. For instance, I recently heard a sermon where the preacher told us about how Paul used hyperbolic humor to make a point (You can find the sermon here). While that was not the entire message of the sermon, that point about humor stuck with me.

Too often we think of the Bible as this monolithic entity that can only be taken seriously. It’s Scripture (capital “S”). We study it for various reasons, but never are we to laugh about what goes on in the various stories, sermons, letters, etc., we are to be serious because faith is serious business. I for one cannot live a completely serious life; I enjoy myself some good humor. The fact that satire, which is meant to be funny but make a point, is possibly included within the Text of which my faith claims, makes me want to study it even more.

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