A Dissertation On Fools -- By: Charles R. MacDonald

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 13:3 (Fall 1970)
Article: A Dissertation On Fools
Author: Charles R. MacDonald


A Dissertation On Fools

Charles R. MacDonald

Chairman, Department of Practical Theology
Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis

That book of the Old Testament called the Proverbs, though written 3000 years ago, has significant messages for our twentieth century. One of the areas dealt with rather fully in this book is a treatment of the subject of fools-a topic not pleasant, but one on which it is important that we be informed and alert.

The Proverbs is a book of wisdom. There are at least 233 references to wisdom in the Bible, according to “Strong’s Concordance,” and some 54 of them occur in the Proverbs. At the same time, the word “fool” appears in the King James Version of the Proverbs at least 37 times in the singular form and 18 times additional in the plural. The word “foolishness” is found eight times in the Proverbs, and five times the possessive form “the fool’s” appears.

Descriptions Of A Fool In The Old Testament

Words Used. Three Hebrew words are used in the Proverbs to indicate a fool. One is “kesil,” which means a self-confident one. Another word is “evvil,” which means to be perverse, turned away, or dull of understanding. Then there are at least three references to “nabal,” which means an empty person.

In the Septuagint the word “aphron” is used to describe a fool. W.E. Vine in “Dictionary of New Testament Words” says concerning this word: “It refers to one who is without reason, who has a want of mental sanity and sobriety, who has a reckless and inconsiderate habit of mind.” Vine gathers this from F. J. A. Hort. From Vos in “Hastings Bible Dictionary” he calls to our attention that an “aphron” is one who “has the lack of commonsense perception of the reality of things natural and spiritual …. or to the imprudent ordering of one’s life in regard to salvation.”

Another word used in the Septuagint is “apaideutos.” The word “paideuo” means to train by means of exhortation or by admonition or chastening. “A-paideutos” means lacking the results of such training.

A third word found in the Septuagint which is translated fool is “anoia.” It suggests rashness, as is seen in Proverbs 22:15, “foolishness (anoia) is bound in the heart of a child.”

When we consider these basic words, we come to the conclusion that a fool, according to the Proverbs, is a self-centered man, a self-confident man who is wise in his own eyes. He is not a simpleton, not a dull-witted per...

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