Foolishness leaves a bad smell (Ecclesiastes 10:1-11)

As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,
    so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
    but the heart of the fool to the left.
Even as fools walk along the road,
    they lack sense
    and show everyone how stupid they are.

(Ecclesiastes 10:1-3)

Some fools are very clever, shrewd, and intelligent people. There is much more to foolishness than low IQ. It’s seen in the impact of our decisions, the quality of our choices, the fruit of our lips, and the way we treat others others. Fools can be recognised by their their self-obsession and blatant disregard for God.

3 thoughts on “Foolishness leaves a bad smell (Ecclesiastes 10:1-11)”

  1. Your perspective on the words of Jesus relies on the reliability of the Gospels as historical accounts. Are those of us who reject their reliability fools? The evidence from a close reading of the Gospels themselves speak to the reasonableness of our position. One example pointed out by Bart Ehrman in Jesus Interrupted is “In Matthew, Jesus declares, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” In Mark, he says,“Whoever is not against us is for us.” Did he say both things? Could he mean both things? How can both be true at once? Or is it possible that one of the Gospel writers got things switched around?”.
    Do you think it is reasonable to assert that the Gospel of John (90 A.D.) reports the words of Jesus when the “I AM” statements (I am the bread of life, I am the way, the truth and life, I am the vine, I am the resurrection and the life etc) are absent from the gospels Matthew (80 A. D) , Mark (65 A.D.) and Luke (85 A.D.)! That three gospels apparently based on eye witness testimony failed to record any of these self revelations of Jesus is almost beyond credulity!….the gospels have a significant number of discrepancies and historical implausibilities yet you propose our position is foolishness?

    1. I don’t have any difficulty reconciling Jesus’ statement in Mark with his statement in Matthew. The two are in totally different contexts. To my mind, they only seem incompatible when removed from their setting. I could say two things to the same people: a) you can all come with me, and b) everyone must stay at home. It’s the context that explains the differences.

      I do think it reasonable to believe that John records the I AM sayings of Jesus, whereas the Synoptics do not. John is clearly structuring his record of Jesus around his sayings and signs, and so he gives special focus to these words and events. There are so many other differences to how John is structured, and the content, that also mark it out from the others.

      I have not focused on rejecting the historical reliability of the Gospels as foolish, but rather referenced the message of Psalm 14, which is repeated in Psalm 53. It is the perspective of David as he writes his psalms that to say in your heart ‘there is no god’ is foolish. If there is a god, as David believes and writes, then this is an important point he makes. We can ask if he is correct, but if he is correct then this is a coherent point to make.

      1. You are right about it being possible that Jesus said both sayings. Both the Markan and Q source/Matthean saying are in Luke at 9:50 and Luke 11:23. I should have fact checked Ehrman.
        A very good examples of how errors can occur in minutes. Why couldn’t we expect the same processes at work with the gospel authors?

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