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Smith's Bible Dictionary

A fable is a narrative in which being irrational, and sometimes inanimate, are, for the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions. --Encyc. Brit. The fable differs from the parable in that --

  1. The parable always relates what actually takes place, and is true to fact, which the fable is not; and
  2. The parable teaches the higher heavenly and spiritual truths, but the fable only earthly moralities. Of the fable, as distinguished from the parable [PARABLE], we have but two examples in the Bible:
  3. That of the trees choosing their king, addressed by Jotham to the men of Shechem, (Judges 9:8-15)
  4. That of the cedar of Lebanon and the thistle, as the answer of Jehoash to the challenge of Amaziah. (2 Kings 14:9) The fables of false teachers claiming to belong to the Christian Church, alluded to by writers of the New Testament, (1 Timothy 1:4; 4:7; Titus 1:14; 2 Peter 1:16) do not appear to have had the character of fables, properly so called.
ATS Bible Dictionary

An idle, groundless, and worthless story, like the mythological legends of the heathen and the vain traditions of the Jews. These were often not only false and weak, but also pernicious, 1 Timothy 4:7 Titus 1:14 2 Peter 1:16.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Applied in the New Testament to the traditions and speculations, "cunningly devised fables", of the Jews on religious questions (1 Timothy 1:4; 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14; 2 Peter 1:16). In such passages the word means anything false and unreal. But the word is used as almost equivalent to parable. Thus we have (1) the fable of Jotham, in which the trees are spoken of as choosing a king (Judges 9:8-15); and (2) that of the cedars of Lebanon and the thistle as Jehoash's answer to Amaziah (2 Kings 14:9).
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) A Feigned story or tale, intended to instruct or amuse; a fictitious narration intended to enforce some useful truth or precept; an apologue. See Apologue.

2. (n.) The plot, story, or connected series of events, forming the subject of an epic or dramatic poem.

3. (n.) Any story told to excite wonder; common talk; the theme of talk.

4. (n.) Fiction; untruth; falsehood.

5. (v. i.) To compose fables; hence, to write or speak fiction ; to write or utter what is not true.

6. (v. t.) To feign; to invent; to devise, and speak of, as true or real; to tell of falsely.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

fa'-b'-l (muthos):

(1) Primitive man conceives of the objects around him as possessing his own characteristics. Consequently in his stories, beasts, trees, rocks, etc., think, talk and act exactly as if they were human beings. Of course, but little advance in knowledge was needed to put an end to this mode of thought, but the form of story-telling developed by it persisted and is found in the folk-tales of all nations. More particularly, the archaic form of story was used for the purpose of moral instruction, and when so used is termed the fable. Modern definitions distinguish it from the parable

(a) by its use of characters of lower intelligence than man (although reasoning and speaking like men), and

(b) by its lesson for this life only. But, while these distinctions serve some practical purpose in distinguishing (say) the fables of Aesop from the parables of Christ, they are of little value to the student of folk-lore. For fable, parable, allegory, etc., are all evolutions from a common stock, and they tend to blend with each other.


(2) The Semitic mind is peculiarly prone to allegorical expression, and a modern Arabian storyteller will invent a fable or a parable as readily as he will talk. And we may be entirely certain that the very scanty appearance of fables in the Old Testament is due only to the character of its material and not at all to an absence of fables from the mouths of the Jews of old. Only two examples have reached us. In Judges 9:7-15 Jotham mocks the choice of AbimeItch as king with the fable of the trees that could find no tree that would accept the trouble of the kingship except the worthless bramble. And in 2 Kings 14:9 Jehoash ridicules the pretensions of Amaziah with the story of the thistle that wished to make a royal alliance with the cedar. Yet that the distinction between fable and allegory, etc., is artificial is seen in Isaiah 5:1, 2, where the vineyard is assumed to possess a deliberate will to be perverse.

(3) In the New Testament, "fable" is found in 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:7 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14 2 Peter 1:16, as the translation of muthos ("myth"). The sense here differs entirely from that discussed above, and "fable" means a (religious) story that has no connection with reality-contrasted with the knowledge of an eyewitness in 2 Peter 1:16. The exact nature of these "fables" is of course something out of our knowledge, but the mention in connection with them of "endless genealogies" in 1 Timothy 1:4 points with high probability to some form of Gnostic speculation that interposed a chain of eons between God and the world. In some of the Gnostic systems that we know, these chains are described with a prolixity so interminable (the Pistis Sophia is the best example) as to justify well the phrase "old wives' fables" in 1 Timothy 4:7. But that these passages have Gnostic reference need not tell against the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals, as a fairly well developed "Gnosticism" is recognizable in a passage as early as Colossians 2, and as the description of the fables as Jewish in Titus 1:14 (compare Titus 3:9) is against 2nd-century references. But for details the commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles must be consulted. It is worth noting that in 2 Timothy 4:4 the adoption of these fables is said to be the result of dabbling in the dubious. This manner of losing one's hold on reality is, unfortunately, something not confined to the apostolic age.

Burton Scott Easton

3454. muthos -- a speech, story, ie a fable
... a speech, story, ie a fable. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: muthos
Phonetic Spelling: (moo'-thos) Short Definition: an idle tale, fable ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/3454.htm - 6k

Indignant Irony Exposing the Valentinian Fable About the Judicial ...
... Chapter XXXII."Indignant Irony Exposing the Valentinian Fable About the Judicial
Treatment of Mankind at the Last Judgment. The Immorality of the Doctrine. ...
/.../against the valentinians/chapter xxxii indignant irony exposing the.htm

Idea of the Parable. --Distinction Between Parable, Fable, and ...
... AND FORM. A. GENERAL PRINCIPLES. Section 68 Idea of the Parable."Distinction
between Parable, Fable, and Mythus. Without doubt ...
/.../the life of jesus christ in its historical connexion/section 68 idea of the.htm

Mythical view of the Miraculous Conception. --No Trace of it in ...
... The Hindoo mind might have originated a fable of this character, though in a different
form from that in which the account of the Evangelists is given; but the ...
/.../section 10 mythical view of.htm

Sun and Wind
... SUN AND WIND. Once upon a time, according to an old fable, the sun and the northwind
had a contest to see which could take a man's coat off the more quickly. ...
/.../chidley/fifty-two story talks to boys and girls/sun and wind.htm

... witness in spite of himself to the growing numbers of the nation and to its glorious
future."In literary form it is a 'mixed epic' or 'canti-fable': a story ...
/.../various/select masterpieces of biblical literature/notes.htm

Introductory Notice to the Decretals.
... yet a reality: and so the very historians whose lucid pages explode the whole fabric
of the Papal communion, still go on, in the language of fable, giving to ...
/.../unknown/the decretals/introductory notice to the decretals.htm

... riches and curious beasts. And as if that had not been enough, they delighted
to add to the truth fable upon fable. The Jews, after ...
/.../kingsley/the water of life and other sermons/sermon xi solomon.htm

The Manich??an Abstinence from Living Things Ridiculous; their ...
... But what the poets say about the giants is manifestly a fable. For those
who lay it down about these, bring forward such matters ...
/.../alexander/of the manichaeans/chapter xxv the manichaean abstinence from.htm

The Mythical Hypothesis of Strauss.
... A myth is the representation of a religious idea or truth in the form of a fictitious
narrative; and in this respect it resembles the fable and the parable ...
/.../schaff/the person of christ/the mythical hypothesis of strauss.htm

... ??clatante de la lumi??re de JC," etc. Now, note the progress of corruption,
one fable engendering another. The text of Genesis 3:15 ...
/.../the banquet of the ten virgins or concerning chastity/elucidations.htm

... Thus we have (1) the fable of Jotham, in which the trees are spoken of as choosing
a king (Judges 9:8-15); and (2) that of the cedars of Lebanon and the ...FABLE. ...
/f/fable.htm - 12k

Jotham (26 Occurrences)
... Recognizing, however, that he is powerless to assert his claim, Jotham delivers
from the summit of Gerizim his famous fable (Judges 9:7-15), applies it to the ...
/j/jotham.htm - 25k

Lie (291 Occurrences)
... the intention to deceive. 3. (n.) A fiction; a fable; an untruth. 4. (n.)
Anything which misleads or disappoints. 5. (vi) To utter ...
/l/lie.htm - 48k

Invention (4 Occurrences)
... 2. (n.) That which is invented; an original contrivance or construction; a device;
as, this fable was the invention of Esop; that falsehood was her own ...
/i/invention.htm - 8k

Fables (5 Occurrences)

/f/fables.htm - 7k

Reign (468 Occurrences)
... Chronicles); of the kings of Edom (Genesis 36:31); of Jabin, king of Canaan, in
Razor (Judges 4:2); of Abimelech, Jerubbaal's son, in Jotham's fable (Judges 9:8 ...
/r/reign.htm - 42k

Raven (7 Occurrences)
... able to speak sentences of a few words when carefully taught, and by its uncanny
acts has made itself a bird surrounded by superstition, myth, fable, and is ...
/r/raven.htm - 14k


/e/ezril.htm - 6k

Dead (580 Occurrences)
... Nothing living can exist in this sea. "The fish carried down by the Jordan at once
die, nor can even mussels or corals live in it; but it is a fable that no ...
/d/dead.htm - 80k

Moral (5 Occurrences)
... 8. (n.) The inner meaning or significance of a fable, a narrative, an occurrence,
an experience, etc.; the practical lesson which anything is designed or ...
/m/moral.htm - 9k

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