This essay deals with, or rather attempts to explore, the problem of irony and humour (sensu largo) in the Bible. On the whole Polish theology, homiletics and academic biblical studies have hardly anything to say about it, and when they do mention it, it is done in a rather perfunctory and unsatisfactory manner. This article asks what may be reasons for this ‘exegetical retouch’ (tabooing?), i.e. why has the question of biblical irony, which is a staple of international scholarship, received so little attention in Poland? Why do contemporary Polish biblical and homiletic studies cultivate a staid and solemn tone, and steer clear of a direct and plain exposition laced with subtle irony and a touch of asteism, a sure sign of a wise sense of humour that characterizes ancient Judaism? For Gary Webster, Terri Bednarz and Yehuda Radday the recognition level of biblical humour, sophisticated wordplay or irony depends on the reader’s competence, his linguistic and cultural sensitivity, his ability to detect cognitive presuppositions, and his knowledge of relevant contexts. Yet even a thorough understanding of the biblical text and its cultural conditioning cannot rule out doubts, moot points and interpretative dilemmas that bedevil the work of every translator and hermeneutic analyst and stoke up unending debates.
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