1887

Humour in the Beginning

Religion, humour and laughter in formative stages of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism

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Humour in the Beginning presents a multidisciplinary collection of fourteen in-depth case-studies on the role of humour – both benign and blasphemous, elitist and ordinary, orthodox and heterodox – in early, formative stages of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and (late-antique) Judaism. Its coherence is strengthened by four preceding theoretical essays, many cross-references and a conclusion. Thus, the volume allows for a methodologically sound comparison and explanation of historical views on humour in the world’s most important religions. At first sight, the foundational period of religions do not seem to offer much opportunities for humour. A closer look on primary sources, however, reveals the ways in which people formulated answers to existing ideas on humour and laughter, in moments of religious renewal. Main topics include the incongruous nature of the divine, the role of anthropomorphism, superior and didactic humour, moderate laughter, responses from dissenters and the gap between religious regulations and reality.

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