Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook

By Vicki K. Janik; Emmanuel S. Nelson | Go to book overview

When Paul writes that "the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18), he makes power the antithesis of folly. Certainly this idea of power quickly transforms to wisdom because it is paradoxically the powerful weakness of the cross, the wisdom of God, that stands opposed to and by the wisdom of the world. Nevertheless, wisdom resides in embracing the cross of the Lord, and the feminine concept is at least submerged.

A full history of response to Pauline folly (impossible here) would yield readings ranging from the expected sobriety of Thomas Aquinas, who in his Summa Theologiae one-dimensionally concludes, even while citing Paul, that folly is indeed a sin opposed to wisdom (2.2.46.1-3), to Erasmus multidimensional, wildly ironic Folly in his Encomium Moriae. Willy-nilly, the Christian idea of the fool becomes commonplace after Paul, and so while his text seeks to breed sacred wisdom, it begs our attention for more secular interpretative purposes as well. We might profitably note, for instance, that Shakespeare Bottom of A Midsummer Night's Dream falls far short of the Pauline pattern for human perfection manifested in the folly of the cross. A weaver (of visions?), Bottom has entertained countless audiences by unwittingly mixing the senses in his famous epiphany speech of act 4, scene 1, of the play. Having been magically (and rightly) translated into an ass, he stumblingly attempts to recognize his reality:

Methought I was, and methought I had -- but man is but [a patch'd] fool, if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was (4.1.206-211).

These mangled, misquoted lines (see 1 Cor. 2:9) reveal more than the humor of this pathetic fellow's mismatched faculties, though; they resonate with the Pauline defense of self, with his mystical visions and revelation, with every person's need for humility. (Would Paul use aphron or moria were he to translate the text to Greek?) In any case, Paul added a theological dimension to our understanding of the fool that allows and invites profundity.


NOTES
1
I am particularly grateful to my colleague Jennifer Glancy, associate professor of religious studies, for carefully reading this entry and for making wise suggestions. Blame the author, of course, for anything foolish said here.
2
Unless otherwise indicated, all biblical quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version.
3
Erasmus, a biblical scholar par excellence, wisely chose moria to designate his "folly" because of the play on Thomas More's name, of course, but also no doubt because of Paul's usage in relating the Christian message.
4
Fitzmyer details Hellenistic influences in both the form and substance of the letters

-325-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Fools and Jesters in Literature, Art, and History: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 552

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.