Original Research - Special Collection: Foundation subjects - Old and New Testament Studies

He who laughs last – Jesus and laughter in the Synoptic and Gnostic traditions

Marius J. Nel
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 1 | a2034 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i1.2034 | © 2014 Marius J. Nel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 July 2013 | Published: 06 May 2014

About the author(s)

Marius J. Nel, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


The aim of the article is to examine the meaning of references to laughter in the Synoptic Gospels and a number of Gnostic texts. Whereas Jesus is depicted as an object of ridicule (Mk 5:40 par.) and as condemning those who laugh in the Synoptic Gospels (Lk 6:25), it is he who often laughs derisively at the ignorance of others in Gnostic texts. The meaning of laughter in the Synoptic Gospels and a number of Gnostic texts is examined in the light of the general Greco-Roman attitude towards laughter and, more specifically, in regard to the archetypical distinction between playful and consequential laughter in Greek culture.


Gonstisism; Historical Jesus; Laughter


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