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Yeah, I've heard the moros = moron and dynamis = dynamite comparisons and many more. But I think these lazy analogies miss the true depth of the Greek.

By the way, it depends on the dictionary whether mental deficiency is listed first or second. Several had it listed second after the definition "fool or ignorant".

From what I've seen, "moros" can mean "fate", as in describing a person whose attitude is "eh, whatever, it is fate". In this case, the person is a fool because they replace God's control with nothing in control but chance or "destiny".

So, in the story, the one builder built on a known foundation and the other didn't care about the foundation, just leaving it up to whatever happens.

This is the way most people express the lack of faith or trust in God - by living as they don't care, just leaving it up to "fate".

I recently discovered your blog here and have started my way through your "Greek for the rest of us" book.

I really hope you will expand on the last part of your post. Being a novice with Greek, I am finding so much more depth and meaning when researching the Greek. Even great translations like the ESV have to leave stuff out.

I find it easy to say, "The Greek suggests" when I share what I discover looking at the Greek that I don't see in the English.

Good stuff, especially about not "showing off" biblical language knowledge (often errant). It's practically never necessary in order to make a point, and essentially functions to render preachers' reasoning opaque--thereby unquestionable--to their listeners.

I do have a question about the Greek and Hebrew words traditionally rendered, "fool." How are these words understood in extrabiblical literature, especially antecedent writings and other writings not directly interacting with the biblical literature? Do they still tend to have the meaning, "moral deficiency," or do they tend to mean intellectual deficiency when encountered in extrabiblical writings?

In the former case (always meaning moral deficiency), perhaps "fool" was always a poor translation; perhaps "rake" or "reprobate" or "libertine" would have worked better.

In the latter case (meaning mental deficiency in the extrabiblical literature), the biblical literature would be making a kind of wordplay. The point would be something like this: the true test of idiocy isn't lack of intelligence, but rather lack of moral and spiritual sense. In this case, "fool" or some such translation accurately preserves the intended meaning.

Interesting point. I checked "Kittle Bits" (Bromiley's abridgment) and he say, "What is meant is a weakness of understanding or judgment, sometimes through stupidity, sometimes through confusion, but always demanding censure" (620). My assumption is that Jesus' use is more determined by the OT teaching on "fool" than Greek backgrounds, but a detailed comparison would make an interesting term paper. Any students out there want to take it on for class?

I forgot to mention above that that is Kittel's (spelled correctly) definition for secular Greek.

Thanks for looking that up, Bill.

Bill, I can't resist noting that in the middle of your post you refer to "a fool" (singular) and later in the same sentence refer to the person as "they" (plural). This nicely illustrates why the TNIV translators accept this as common usage and feel free to adopt it in their version. I still feel a bit awkward myself with it, but it looks as if this may be a change in standard English that is worth accepting.

Very good. Yes, this is one of the ways I am switching my language. I have had some helpful discussions with one of my friends at Zondervan, and he told me that as far back as Shakespeare "they" was used as a generic singular. I want to find how widespread this was -- any literature majors want to write a term paper? -- because it gives precedent for this type of usage.

Thanks for another helpful post, Dr. Mounce. Maybe in a future post you could address how we should properly use or not use Greek/Hebrew in our sermons, from the pulpit. This issue needs to be addressed more systematically, especially for us young seminarians who endeavor to be faithful expositors of God's word.

Hi Bill,
Just wanted to second Alex's idea. When I was in seminary, I remember professors that had different, conflicting views on whether to mention Greek/Hebrew from the pulpit. Would love to hear your view.

Okay. I will give it a shot next blog.

Blogs are good for every one where we get lots of information for any topics nice job keep it up !!!

Great post, Bill.
Just a footnote - wasn't it Psalm 14:1 & not Psalm 53:2, when the Psalmist said, "The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’?


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