Tijd om te lachen? | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 52, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573



Early Christian humour is not well-known and often its mere existence is doubted. However, modern humour research has proven that humour is a universal human phenomenon. This article investigates in which (con)texts early Christian humour can be found, focusing on the fourth century. Several severe judgements by famous Church Fathers are indeed critical about humour and its most directly related physical response: laughter. The writing of fiction in general was also suspect. However, the theologians’ verdicts of humour also reveal that it was not absent from early Christian society, which would have been impossible, given the rich classical comical traditions, that retained their influence in early Christian times. Apart from some rare examples of Christian comical texts, such as the , early Christian humour rather appears to be included in serious hagiographical texts with comical aspects. Prudentius famously versified the martyr story of Lawrence who joked on the grid in his 2, but also refers to the vibrant theatrical tradition of his time. Paulinus of Nola seems to plead in defence of the writing of Christian fiction in a rather comical passage in 16.


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