Kuschel describes this fascinating book as an "answer" to the "challenge" posed by Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose". It is an entertaining and useful theological companion to the novel, and calling it an "answer" rightly categorizes it with other attempts to "answer" jokes. Such attempts often convey important information, even as they become occasions for laughter in the worlds of the jokes to which they respond. Nonacademic readers may be put off by Kuschel's serious and well-documented survey of "Western" theorizing about laughter, which traces a Greek stream from Homer and Hesiod and a biblical stream from Abraham and Sarah. But the style is engaging (a tribute to the translator as well as the author), and it is worth the effort to follow the survey from beginning to end. In the end the reader may believe Kuschel misunderstands Eco, but that doesn't detract from the value of the book.