I've looked into the female mind and it's a frightening and terrifying place. - Humble Master
Question #91906 posted on 01/21/2019 4:39 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Joseph Smith taught that Jesus was using irony when he gave the parable of the shepherd leaving the ninety and nine to find the lost sheep. (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/02/parables-of-mercy?lang=eng) Jesus was talking to the scribes and Pharisees who thought they were “just persons, which need no repentance.” (See Luke 15:7). So, Jesus meant something quite different from what he actually said. What do you call this form of teaching; irony, sarcasm, teasing, mocking, tongue in cheek, or arguing in bad faith?

Related question. How would you describe the behavior of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:27? “And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” Irony, sarcasm, teasing, mocking, tongue in cheek, or arguing in bad faith?

Was saying the opposite of what Jesus and Elijah meant a bad thing?

- Luke


Dear Lucas,

I would argue that while what Jesus said about his purpose being calling sinners to repentance is ironic because we are all sinners, it also teaches an important lesson unironically. The Pharisees were well versed in the Law of Moses and tried to follow it to a T, but by refusing to interact with those who didn't follow the law as well as them, they ignored the spirit of the law. Jesus was teaching them unironically the importance of loving and teaching those who may not be where we are spiritually. So I think here that Jesus taught both things at the same time. I would say that Jesus was mostly teaching love by example, but also reprimanding the Pharisees for their own inappropriate behavior.

I think that the behavior exhibited by Elijah is very much being sarcastic. However, while he is mocking them, he is teaching that God is the only true god, and that he doesn't rest. So, I think in this circumstance Elijah definitely was being sarcastic, but he was also teaching a valuable lesson.

I think there is nothing wrong with teaching only one interpretation of these scriptures. What's so great about the scriptures is that they often have multiple layers of meaning that we can learn from. Even if something we learn wasn't originally intended by the speaker it can still be a valuable spiritual lesson.