What’s So Funny About Arguing with God? A Case for Playful Argumentation from Jewish Literature

Argumentation 29 (1):57-80 (2015)
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Abstract

In this paper, we show that God is portrayed in the Hebrew Bible and in the Rabbinic literature—some of the very Hebrew texts that have influenced the three major world religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—as One who can be argued with and even changes his mind. Contrary to fundamentalist positions, in the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish texts God is omniscient but enjoys good, playful argumentation, broadening the possibilities for reasoning and reasonability. Arguing with God has also had a profound influence upon Jewish humor, demonstrating that humans can joke with God. More specifically, we find in Jewish literature that humor’s capacity to bisociate between different domains of human experience can share a symbiotic relationship with argumentation’s emphasis on producing multiple, contested perspectives. Overall, once mortals realize that figures such as God can accept many perspectives through humor, teasing, arguing, criticism, and in at least one case, even lawsuits, a critical point emerges: citizens should learn to live, laugh, and reason with others with whom they disagree

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References found in this work

The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation.Chaïm Perelman & Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca - 1969 - Notre Dame, IN, USA: Notre Dame University Press. Edited by Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca.
The new rhetoric: a treatise on argumentation.Chaïm Perelman - 1969 - Notre Dame, [Ind.]: University of Notre Dame Press. Edited by Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca.
The Act of Creation.Arthur Koestler - 1964 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (63):255-257.

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