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 (220.127.116.11-3), 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.