A Humorist & Poet
“Jesus had a keen sense of humour which again and again bubbles out irrepressibly, all the more strikingly because it is in contrast with the complete absence of humour in those writings of the Christians of the first century which have been preserved in the New Testament. He had a keen eye for the ridiculous and could make startling what he saw—the self-righteous man with the huge beam in his eye essaying to see and pluck out a mere speck in his neighbour’s eye; the solemn and meticulous legalist who was so conscientious about details and yet so blind to great moral issues that he was like a man who, anxious lest he be contaminated by his food and drink, would painstakingly strain out the most minute gnat and then, without blinking, swallow an entire camel, hair, hoofs, humps, and offensive breath. He laughed at children playing in the market place, especially at those who, pouting, refused to join in the sport, even when their companions were quite willing to adjust the game to meet their wishes. His questions to the crowds about John the Baptist—“What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? … a man clothed in soft raiment?”—must have provoked laughter, so purposely contrary were they to what all of his hearers knew.
“Jesus had the soul of a poet. While few of his recorded sayings are in poetic form, again and again his words breathe the spirit of poetry. His mind thought in terms of pictures and concrete scenes, not in abstract phrases. The parables and sententious sayings in which most of his teachings were couched were such that, once heard, they could not easily be forgotten. It is said that he chose that manner of speaking deliberately, but he could not have employed it so skillfully had it not reflected the quality of his mind.”
Kenneth Scott Latourette
A History of Christianity, Volume I
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