Not a knee slapper. In 1688, William of Orange, Staadtholder of the United Netherlands and later King William III of Great Britain, pulled off an extremely unlikely invasion of England. William was a conventional Dutch Protestant and therefor a Calvinist. As he landed at Tor Bay he is said to have turned to one of his advisors who was a Church of England clergyman and asked “What do you think of predestination, now?”
I’m told that Martin Luther was fond of scatological humor but I don’t know of any examples.
I heard the Dalai Lama speak in Madison, and while (of course) no examples come to mind he had the audience laughing for a good chunk of the time. He was poking fun at everything from Dubya to Parenting to Buddhism. I’d love to have a beer with the guy.
But to answer your question, at least one religious figure told lots of jokes.
Religious figures? A great many conservative evangelical pastors tell jokes from the pulpit. The better ones are careful not to let the humor overwhelm the message, though. Greg Laurie and Alistair Begg are two well-known examples of pastors who are notorious for their senses of humor, for example.
I have here a 1993 issue of Christian History magazine, which focuses on the later years of Martin Luthor’s life. It includes a cartoon that depicts a pair of Protestants dropping trou and farting in the Pope’s face, with the Luthor-penned caption, “Don’t frighten us, Pope, with your ban, and don’t be such a furious man. Otherwise we shall turn away and show you our rears.”
In response to the Catholic church granting indulgences to people who viewed “holy relics”, Luthor anonymously penned an amusing pamphlet entitled New Newspaper from the Rhine:
… and so on.
Regarding marriage, Luthor (a former monk who married a former nun) had some amusing insights:
“When one looks back upon it, marriage isn’t so bad as when one looks forward to it.”
“There’s a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage. One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow that were not there before.”
“The Devil cannot bear to see married people agree well with each other.”
That sentiment actually makes a lot of sense. Martin Luther was known to have suffered from constipation and did a lot of his writing on the pot so to speak. In fact just a few years ago his bathroom was unearthed.
In the abyssmally bad NBC movie MARY OF NAZARETH, Jesus had given a man a yoke He’d finished making. The man commented on the yoke’s fine quality & then asked Jesus for more time to pay, which Jesus of course agreed to.
I’d have had Jesus then saying “Well, that’s why I say- my yokes are easy and my burdens are light.”
Seriously, Biblical humor is more punny, or ridiculous exaggeration. Most of the puns don’t translate from the Hebrew or Greek, and the exaggeration doesn’t strike us as that amusing (“You strain at gnats and swallow camels”).