St. Ephraim the Syrian (c. d. 373), Deacon and Doctor of the Church

St. Ephraim left home as a teenage, banished by his pagan father for his Christian sympathies.  He was given a home by St. James Bishop of Nisibis and was baptized into the New Covenant in Christ when he was 18 years old.  He studied doctrine and Scripture and became a teacher in the school founded by his bishop.  Later Ephraim entered the monastery at Edessa (modern Urfa, Turkey) and was ordained a deacon.  St. Ephraim was given an extraordinary gift in the interpretation of Holy Scripture.  He wrote many works in defense of the Catholic Church, on the mysteries of Jesus Christ, and he wrote the most profoundly beautiful poetry in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Through the beauty of his works he has come to be known as "The Prophet of the Syrians" and "The Lyre of the Holy Spirit." He died in 373AD and was elevated to the position of Doctor of the Church in 1920 by Pope Gregory XV.  St. Ephraim's advice to Christians on how to study Sacred Scripture is as reverent today as it was when he wrote it in the 4th century AD.  His feast day is June 9th.


St. Ephraim's Advice on the Study of Sacred Scripture

Lord who can grasp all the wealth of just one of your words? St. Ephraim d. 373AD 

"Lord who can grasp all the wealth of just one of your words?  What we understand is much less than we leave behind; like thirsty people who drink from a fountain.  For your word, Lord, has many shades of meaning just as those who study it have many different points of view.  The Lord has colored his word with many hues so that each person who studies it can see in it what he loves.  He has hidden many treasures in his word so that each of us is enriched as we meditate on it. 

The word of God is a tree of life that from all its parts offers you fruit that is blessed.  It is like that rock opened in the desert that from all its parts gave forth a spiritual drink.  He who comes into contact with some share of its treasure should not think that the only thing contained in the word is what he himself has found. He should realize that he has only been able to find that one thing from among many others.  Nor, because only that one part has become his, should he say that the word is void and empty and look down on it.  But because he could not exhaust it, he should give thanks for its riches.  Be glad that you are overcome and do not be sad that it overcame you.  The thirsty man rejoices when he drinks and he is not downcast because he cannot empty the fountain.  Rather let the fountain quench your thirst than have your thirst quench the fountain. Because if your thirst is quenched and the fountain is not exhausted, you can drink from it again whenever you are thirsty.  But if when your thirst is quenched and the fountain is also dried up, your victory will bode evil for you.  So be grateful for what you have received and don't grumble about the abundance left behind.  What you have received and what you have reached is your share.  What remains is your heritage.  What at one time you were unable to receive because of your weakness, you will be able to receive at other times if you persevere.  Do not have the presumption to try to take in one draft what cannot be taken in one draft and do not abandon out of laziness what can only be taken little by little."
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1999 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.