Augsburg Fortress

Divine Laughter: Preaching and the Serious Business of Humor

Divine Laughter: Preaching and the Serious Business of Humor

Comedians tend to view the world somewhat askew or askance, and that view--a kind of hermeneutical lens for discerning the comedic in daily life--serves to frame, reframe, and even de-frame reality. Preachers do the same, viewing the world askance through a theological lens of discerning God in daily life. That theological view allows one to preach hope in the face of despair, seeing the world in terms of God's justice and declaring the promise of life out of death. Divine Laughter: Preaching and the Serious Business of Humor looks closely at both the cultural phenomenon of stand-up comedy and theories of humor, asking what preachers can learn from both.

Karl N. Jacobson and Rolf A. Jacobson offer preachers a means of growth in their art and an approach to reading Scripture both for its humor and through the lens of humor. The book models approaches to the biblical text that allow the Bible to be funny and that bring humor to the text. Divine Laughter brings the task of preaching into conversation with both the comedic parts of the Bible and the theological parts of the comedic, in order to bring a new kind of life to preaching. As a serious look at humor and laughter in the Bible, the book explores the theological implications of what it means if we think of God, Jesus, and even the Holy Spirit as filled with laughter. Preachers are invited to wonder at and chuckle their way through examples of God's laughter in the Bible, thinking about what that means for God's people, for the life of faith, and for preaching to God's people.

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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506468679
  • eBook ISBN 9781506468686
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 152
  • Publication Date July 12, 2022


"Karl and Rolf Jacobson have performed a miracle by creating a book about humor, the Bible, and preaching that is genuinely witty and at the same time profound. Almost every page of this book evokes rich laughter, but as is the case with the best humor, the laughter erupts from a sudden shift in perspective and with the gift of surprising insight. The Jacobson brothers understand the gospel itself as the promise that God's grace will get the last laugh, and therefore, they guide us toward preaching that is more humble, more humane, and more joyful."

Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Candler School of Theology

"They say one should never, ever attempt to analyze humor. I would amend that to say, never attempt it unless you have God on your side. Pastors Karl and Rolf Jacobson examine God's word and discover that there is much joy and, yes, humor there. A fun, serious, and seriously fun book!"

Bridget Jones and Mike Nelson, / Mystery Science Theater 3000

"Perhaps we are so solemn in church because we suspect there is so little at stake that we must dignify with soberness and somberness. The brothers Jacobson know better. They know that there is so much at stake--so outrageous and so risky for God and for the world--that we need both the relief and the side-angle of humor. They bring to their work a deep reading of Scripture, deep rootage in the tradition, and a deep love for the church. It does not matter if the name of the 'older brother' was Karl or Rolf. Both are invited to the party of hilarious fun. You will not want to miss it either!"

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"I've long suspected that heresy in the pulpit is a far less worrisome problem than dullness. Divine Laughter equips us to offer sermons that are both interesting and invigorating by developing a biblical understanding of the power of humor to invite us to laugh at our ourselves, to be surprised and delighted by the joy of the gospel, and to call into question a cultural reality that falls far short of the abundant life God offers. This book is not about telling jokes, but rather rediscovering the courageous and life-giving power of humor that is rooted in the ultimate joke God plays on death and the devil in the resurrection of Christ. Buy it, read it, laugh with (and even at!) its authors, and be renewed and encouraged in your calling."

David J. Lose, senior pastor, Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, and author of Preaching at the Crossroads