Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Biblical Sarcasm

Days of Praise
Biblical Sarcasm
November 7, 2010
"And Job answered and said, No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." (Job 12:1-2)
It is remarkable that the Bible, with its great variety of literary forms and numerous personal conversations and discourses, contains very few examples of sarcasm or satire.
Nevertheless, the few examples of biblical irony are well worth noting, with one of the most notable being Job's response as above to the self-righteous platitudes of his three philosophizing "friends." In their intellectual and moral arrogance and with no real understanding of God's purposes, these critics were far out of line and well deserved Job's cutting sarcasm. Examples of such combined spiritual ignorance and intellectual arrogance are not hard to find today and, occasionally perhaps, a satirical commentary may be effective in changing them or preventing their effect.
One other well-known case of biblical sarcasm is Elijah's taunting monologue to the prophets of Baal: "Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked" (1 Kings 18:27). Jeremiah also had a word to say about the ineptitude of false gods and the foolishness of those who put their faith in them, and who were "saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: . . . But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble" (Jeremiah 2:27-28).
Much more foolish than those who believe that sticks and stones can generate living beings, however, are those modernday idolaters who worship "Mother Nature," believing that her "natural processes" can evolve hydrogen atoms, over billions of years, into human beings. The examples of Elijah and Jeremiah as well as Job may warrant an occasional touch of sarcasm when discussing such notions! HMM
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