Document Type


Publication Title

The Midwest Quarterly





First Page



Publication Date

Winter 1997


As Rudolf Bultmann advocated demythologization to separate the message of Jesus from outdated cultural forms in which it was expressed, so I advocate what I call desobrietization to discover the humor that Jesus used that has been lost because of translation, prosy interpreters, and preconceived ideas about what it is to be divine. Without pretending to recover the actual words of Jesus, one may nevertheless hear the authentic voice of Jesus and therein detect his wit. One discovers the humor of Jesus in his use of exaggeration, satire, sarcasm, plays on words, and irony. Irony is especially important for it shows that Jesus could say the opposite of what he meant so that a merely literal reading of the text misses its message. There is also a theological importance to desobrietization. For Christians, Jesus is the "Word of God," and if that word displays humor one has thereby understood something about the divine.

Included in

Philosophy Commons


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