Humor-neutics: analyzing humor and humor functions in the Synoptic GospelsShow full item record
|Humor-neutics: analyzing humor and humor functions in the Synoptic Gospels
|Doctor of Philosophy
|Scholarly works on the Synoptic Gospels reflect a basic presupposition that the content of the Gospels is serious, and thereby, seriousness precludes humor. This dissertation demonstrates that humor in the circum-Mediterranean world was often serious, even deadly serious. The aim of the study is threefold: to challenge basic presuppositions regarding humor in the Synoptic Gospels, to construct a model that would aid in the recognition of humor in the Synoptic Gospels, and to explore examples of Synoptic humor. The discussion includes a survey of the types and uses of humor found in ancient Mediterranean sources.^Most notably tendentious forms of humor surface in recollections of agonistic exchanges between adversaries, or in status degradation rituals, or in harrowing triumphs over rivals.^In biographies, histories, philosophical and rhetorical treatises, and in theatrical performances of antiquity, folk-heroes and other renowned persons engaged in agonistic uses of humor in order to demonstrate superior wisdom, courage, virtuous character and honorable reputation. Essentially, humor surfaced as a critical rhetorical device for the acquisition and defense of honor, but not without cost. In the oft-public antagonistic exchanges of antiquity, successful uses of humor helped a humorist to garner public support, but such successes tended to bring public derision upon powerful rivals. Their subsequent anger and loss of face frequently led to violent, even deadly reprisals.^The survey of ancient Mediterranean humor reveals a basic framework for exploring and recognizing the forms, functions and effects of tendentious humor. This framework provides a model for identifying and studying the use of Synoptic humor within the cultural context of Roman antiquity.^Both ancient emic sources and etic perspectives inform the model. Etic perspectives serve primarily to elucidate social constructs such as honor, reputation, and character in emic sources, and they help to clarify the impact of humor on social constructs. In particular, etic perspectives include critical insights from social science and the sociology of humor. The model guides subsequent discussions on the forms, functions and effects of humor in several Synoptic examples.^Particular attention is given to the cultural context of agonistic exchanges between the Matthean Jesus and his opponents in the Temple precinct (12:12-23:36) and in the antagonistic setting of the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus (Luke 22:67-70; Matt 26:64).^Additional discussion situates Synoptic humor within the context of ancient oral performances, and provides examples of Synoptic humor that exemplify the kinds of humor that surface in the oral performances of biographical encomium and in the authorial commentary of in-group literature.
|Brite Divinity School
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- Doctoral Dissertations