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

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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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