Humor and the Omniscient God

34 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2012

See all articles by Hershey H. Friedman

Hershey H. Friedman

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York

Linda Weiser Friedman

Baruch College, CUNY - Zicklin School of Business; CUNY - The Graduate Center

Date Written: July 18, 2012


In this paper, we show that God is portrayed in the Hebrew Bible and in the Rabbinic literature – the very Hebrew texts that influenced Judaism and Christianity – as One who can be argued with. He even changes his mind. There is something funny about the thought of arguing or disagreeing with an omniscient God, but a number of Biblical characters do just that. God is omniscient, but He enjoys a good argument. Perhaps this is why Judaism has developed an almost unique approach to the relationship between man and God; to some degree Christianity has taken on this approach as well. This warm attitude vis-à-vis God has had a profound effect on Jewish (and Christian) humor and Jewish literature, even to this day. Does God have a sense of humor? If God is omniscient, why does he ever lose an argument? Why does He change His mind? Once we realize that God can accept teasing, arguing, disputes, criticism and – even – lawsuits, then, all the more so, we mortals should learn to live with other people who don’t always do or believe what we would like.

Keywords: Jewish humor, religious humor, arguing with God, Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic literature, Biblical humor

JEL Classification: B30, B31, I2, Z00, Z10

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Hershey H. and Friedman, Linda Weiser, Humor and the Omniscient God (July 18, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Hershey H. Friedman

Brooklyn College of the City University of New York ( email )

Linda Weiser Friedman (Contact Author)

Baruch College, CUNY - Zicklin School of Business ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
United States


CUNY - The Graduate Center

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