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Just Some Dude
03-14-2014, 08:01 AM
I've heard that "fool" used to be mean someone who knew better but willingly blinded themselves on a matter, as opposed to someone who is just an idiot. Was putting forth a question to see if that is so. Also was wondering whether or not calling a brother "you fool," as in the Sermon on the Mount, could also be construed as calling your brother "idiot."

Christianbookworm
03-14-2014, 08:03 AM
I read somewhere that calling your brother a fool was akin to calling a fellow Christian an unbeliever or atheist. Don't recall the exact verse in Psalm that states "the fool says in his heart, "There is no God"."

KingsGambit
03-14-2014, 08:05 AM
I read somewhere that calling your brother a fool was akin to calling a fellow Christian an unbeliever or atheist. Don't recall the exact verse in Psalm that states "the fool says in his heart, "There is no God"."

I've seen this asserted but I didn't find it very convincing.

Christianbookworm
03-14-2014, 08:06 AM
I've seen this asserted but I didn't find it very convincing.

What do you think? I was just saying that that is what I heard/read.

John Reece
03-14-2014, 08:15 AM
Don't recall the exact verse in Psalm that states "the fool says in his heart, "There is no God"."

Psalm 14:1a The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (ESV)

Geert van den Bos
03-14-2014, 09:18 AM
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (ESV)

Hebrew: אָמַר נָבָל בְּלִבּוֹ אֵין אֱלֹהִים

LXX: ἄφρων ἐν καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν θεός

ἄφρων = fool (without understanding)
in Luke 11:40,
You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? (meant are the Pharisees).

Matthew 5:21 has another word for fool: μωρός

anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:13 might inform about the meaning:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt becomes tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

if the salt becomes tasteless = ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅλας μωρανθῇ

from:
μωραίνω
1) to be foolish, to act foolishly 2a) to make foolish 2a1) to prove a person or a thing foolish 2b) to make flat and tasteless 2b1) of salt that has lost its strength and flavour

so μωρός = a drab, dull person.

John Reece
03-14-2014, 09:27 AM
Translation and comment on Psalm 14:1a by John Goldingay in Psalms Volume 1: Psalms 1-41 (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms, 2002):


Psalm 14:1a : A scoundrel has said in his heart, "God is not here."

The scoundrel is a nābāl, a fool (LXX) who has no insight (cf. verse 2), but also a villain, the opposite of the noble or honorable person (Isa. 32:5), the kind of person who rapes his half sister (2 Sam. 13:13) or scoffs at God (Ps. 74:18, 22). Here the psalm starts from the last kind of villainy. It is "a sustained comment on the nābāl." Sometimes such scoffing in the heart might contrast with outward words that profess commitment to Yhwh. Even an intellectual might not dare openly to deny God's reality―not a hesitation that survives into the modern world. But this psalm may have in mind a life and heart that match. The scoffing is not a superficial discounting of God. It takes place not merely on the lips but in the heart: it deeply characterize the person. Either way, saying "God is not here" (English versions: "There is no God") is not merely a statement of theoretical atheist conviction but a declaration that God can be discounted from everyday life (...). It is the attitude explicitly expressed by the Rabshakeh to Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:29-30) and implicit in the action of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Isa. 14:14). Thus Targum's paraphrase "said in his heart, 'There is no rule of God in the land/earth'" may express the point, even if it is designed reverentially to hold back from expressing the conviction "God is not [here]" even on a scoundrel's lips.

robrecht
03-14-2014, 09:27 AM
What do you think? I was just saying that that is what I heard/read.I don't find it very convincing. This psalm does not seem to be addressing theoretical atheism, which I don't think was as common in ancient times as it is today, but rather a kind of moral atheism, whereby someone does not seem to believe that they will be judged or punished for evil deeds. I could be wrong, but that's my initial impression.

robrecht
03-14-2014, 09:29 AM
Great minds think alike, but, as usual, John has the reference to back it up!

Christianbookworm
03-14-2014, 09:32 AM
I don't find it very convincing. This psalm does not seem to be addressing theoretical atheism, which I don't think was as common in ancient times as it is today, but rather a kind of moral atheism, whereby someone does not seem to believe that they will be judged or punished for evil deeds. I could be wrong, but that's my initial impression.

Indeed! That does make sense. Especially since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom(Proverbs). I would ask then to ingnore the ethiest part of my comment, then.

John Reece
03-14-2014, 10:21 AM
Via Accordance, from The Gospel of Matthew (NICNT: Eerdmans, 2007), by R. T. France:


Translation: 22 But I tell you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be liable to judgment; whoever calls their brother or sister stupid will be liable to trial; and whoever calls them a fool will be liable to hell-fire.

Comment: (1) Murder (5:21–26)

Jesus’ radical interpretation of the sixth commandment (and of the death penalty for murder which is its OT corollary) is stated in the three sharply paradoxical statements of v. 22. The remainder of this paragraph consists of what appear to have been two originally independent sayings (vv. 23–24 and 25–26; note the change to second person singular) concerned with repairing broken relationships, which offer a positive counterpart to the negative verdicts of v. 22.

The principle of v. 22 is that the actual committing of murder is only the outward manifestation of an inward attitude which is itself culpable, whether or not it actually issues in the act of murder. Angry thoughts and contemptuous words (which equally derive from “the heart,” 12:34) deserve equal judgment; indeed the “hell-fire” with which the saying concludes goes far beyond the human death penalty which the OT law envisaged. Jesus in no way sets aside the simple correlation of the observable act of murder and its humanly imposed penalty our modern questions concerning the appropriateness of capital punishment for murder are not raised but adds a far-reaching new dimension by turning attention also to the motives and attitudes which underlie the act, and which are not susceptible to judicial process. No one can testify to the anger itself, only to its physical or verbal expression, and the everyday insults of “stupid” and “fool” do not provide the matter for court proceedings. But, in the words of 1 Sam 16:7, “The Lord looks on the heart,” and in his court its thoughts are no less culpable than the act itself. A similar view is attributed to R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus (c. A.D. 100): “One who hates his neighbor is among those who shed blood.” (Der. Er. Rab. 57b [11:13]) Cf. the tannaitic principle in b. Bab. Meṣ. 58b, “Anyone who publicly shames a neighbor is as though he shed blood,” with the following comment of R. Hanina that such people will not escape from Gehenna. Cf. 1 John 3:15.76

....

22 The “brother or sister” (adelphos) of vv. 22–24 is probably to be understood as a fellow-disciple rather than a literal family member; a similar concern with good relationships among fellow-disciples will be the theme of the fourth discourse in ch. 18, where the term adelphos will recur in 18:15, 21, 35; cf. 12:46–50 for the concept of Jesus’ “family” of disciples. It would, however, be pedantic to suggest that Jesus’ ruling applies only to relations with fellow-disciples and not to people in general; vv. 44–47 suggest otherwise.

It is possible to find an ascending scale of severity in the descriptions of the punishment in this verse, from an unspecified “judgment” to the more specific “trial” and then to the final extreme of “hell-fire.” Certainly the most striking and powerful image is kept to the last. But there is no such clear escalation in the offences cited. The first (anger) is in the mind and the second and third in speech, but the speech is cited not so much as a clearly actionable utterance but rather as an indication of attitude. The two words of abuse, “stupid” and “fool” (the latter used by Jesus himself in 23:17), are not readily distinguishable in either meaning or severity; both are everyday utterances, significant enough in a society which took seriously public honor and disgrace, but not the sort of exceptional abuse which might conceivably form the basis of litigation The deliberate paradox of Jesus’ pronouncement is thus that ordinary insults may betray an attitude of contempt which God takes extremely seriously. The effect of the saying is therefore to be found not in a careful correlation between each offence individually and the respective punishment assigned to it, but in the cumulative rhetorical force of a series of everyday scenes and the remarkable range of expressions used for their results; the totally unexpected conclusion in “hell-fire” comes as a shocking jolt to the complacency of the hearer, who might well have chuckled over the incongruous image of a person being tried for anger or for conventional insult, only to be pulled up short by the saying’s conclusion.

“Hell” (geënna) will be referred to again in 5:29–30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33 as the place of final destruction of the wicked; its use in this sense is well-attested in Jewish apocalyptic literature. It is not the same as Hades, the place of the dead, which is not usually understood as a place of punishment or destruction but rather of shadowy existence. The name geënna derives from the Valley of Hinnom (Hebrew gê hinnōm) outside Jerusalem which had once been the site of human sacrifice by fire to Molech, 2 Kgs 23:10; Jer 7:31. There is a later tradition that the city’s rubbish was dumped and burned in this valley, which if true would provide a vivid image of “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (25:41) see on 25:46 for the nature of the “eternal punishment” envisaged. To invoke this awesome concept in relation to the use of an everyday abusive epithet is the sort of paradoxical exaggeration by which Jesus’ sayings often compel the reader’s attention; contrast 1QS 6:25–7:9, where abusive language and attitude are punished by a graded range of periods of exclusion from the assembly.

KingsGambit
03-14-2014, 11:01 AM
Thank you for this post, John. I have only read snippets of France's Matthew commentary over time but I've seen enough to want to interlibrary loan it.

John Reece
03-14-2014, 11:26 AM
Thank you for this post, John. I have only read snippets of France's Matthew commentary over time but I've seen enough to want to interlibrary loan it.

:thumb:

Pat Ferguson
03-15-2014, 02:00 PM
I've heard that "fool" used to be mean someone who knew better but willingly blinded themselves on a matter, as opposed to someone who is just an idiot.
And Jesus reportedly said:


μωρε (mōre': dull, stupid, blockhead at Matt. 5:22; 7:26; 23:17, 19; 25:2-3, 8)

αφροσυνη (aphrosu'nē, indicating that a person is senseless, thoughtless, or reckless at Mark 7:22)

αφρονες (aph'rones: senseless, ignorant, unlearned at Luke 11:40; 12:20)

ανοητοι (ano'ētoi: senseless, ignorant, unlearned at Luke 24:25)


Also was wondering whether or not calling a brother "you fool," ..., could also be construed as calling your brother "idiot."
Yes (cp. ιδιwτης (idiōtēs) with αφρονες and ανοητοι, above, in your preferred lexica).

John Reece
03-15-2014, 03:24 PM
Pat Ferguson alias Heterodoxus?

John Reece
03-15-2014, 04:27 PM
Also was wondering whether or not calling a brother "you fool," as in the Sermon on the Mount, could also be construed as calling your brother "idiot."


Yes (cp. ιδιwτης (idiōtēs) with αφρονες and ανοητοι, above, in your preferred lexica).

To construe the usage of the biblical word ιδιwτης (idiōtēs) to have the same meaning as calling your brother "idiot" in the modern sense would be anachronistic ― given the fact that the modern usage of the word idiot is not the same as the biblical usage of the word ἰδιώτης (idiōtēs) in the Bible.

Similarly, there is at least a nuance of difference between the modern meaning and usage of the word "idiot" on the one hand, and on the other hand the meaning and usage of the word ῥακά (rhaka) in Matthew 5:22 (see exegesis by France on page 2, post 11 of this thread).

From BDAG:


ἰδιώτης

1. a person who is relatively unskilled or inexperienced in some activity or field of knowledge, layperson, amateur in contrast to an expert or specialist of any kind (the uncrowned person in contrast to the king...).

2. one who is not knowledgeable about some particular group’s experience, one not in the know, outsider. In 1 Cor 14:23f ἰδιῶται and ἄπιστοι together form a contrast to the Christian congregation. The ἰ. are neither similar to the ἄπιστοι (against Ltzm., Hdb. ad loc.), nor are they full-fledged Christians, but stand betw. the two groups, prob. as prospects for membership and are therefore relatively outsiders (ἰδιώτης as a t.t. of religious life e.g. OGI 90, 52 [196 BC], SIG 1013, 6; mystery ins fr. Andania [92 BC]: SIG 736, 16–19 αἱ μὲν ἰδιώτιες . . . αἱ δὲ ἱεραί. In relig. associations the term is used for nonmembers who may participate in the sacrifices: FPoland, Gesch. des griech. Vereinswesens 1909, 247*; 422.—Cp. also Cratin. Iun. Com. fgm. 7 vol. II 291 K. of the Pythagoreans: ἔθος ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς, ἂν τιν᾿ ἰδιώτην ποθὲν λάβωσιν εἰσελθόντα κτλ.). The closer relation which they, in contrast to the ἄπιστοι, held w. the Christian group (so as early as Severian of Gabala [died after 409 AD]: KStaab, Pauluskommentare aus. d. griech. Kirche ’33, p. xxxv; 268) is clearly shown by the fact that they had a special place in the room where the Christians assembled 1 Cor 14:16 (PTomson, Paul and the Jewish Law [CRINT III/1] ’90, 142–44; ἀναπληρόω 4).—DELG s.v. ἴδιος. M-M. TW. Spicq. Sv.

Contrast the above with the following entry from Merriam-Webster:


idiot

1. usually offensive : [i]a person affected with extreme mental retardation
2. a foolish or stupid person

Just Some Dude
03-16-2014, 07:09 PM
I'm probably going to have to buy whatever commentaries you tend to use. Thanks.

John Reece
03-17-2014, 07:13 AM
I'm probably going to have to buy whatever commentaries you tend to use. Thanks.

:thumb:

Pat Ferguson
03-21-2014, 12:17 PM
Pat Ferguson alias Heterodoxus?That'd be me :teeth:

I see you're still using this forum like a pedantic podium. Good show!

Perhaps I'll investigate getting my own Tweb forum someday :smile: