Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: St. Ephraim the Syrian

“My brother, wisdom is not found in much learning and many letters; rather, as the Holy Scriptures say, the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord, and prudence the desire of the Holy; indeed, it is good to know the law of the mind. This is correct, for faith in God engenders a good mind, and the good mind is a river of living water; he who has attained it will be filled with its beneficial and life-bearing waters.

“Neither wisdom nor prudence can exist where there is not fear of the Lord, because the wealth of wisdom is to revere the Lord, to whom belongs all glory” (Saint Ephraim).


Something that has always made me wonder was who was it who first translated the Hebrew word for “awe” and “reverence” as “fear” and thereby done a disservice to all readers of the Bible.  There are some very famous sermons that have been preached about collapsing in terror in front of God and that is so very wrong.

The beginning of wisdom is awe and reverence for God.  Think about who God is.  Think about who we are in relation to God.  Isn’t awe, isn’t reverence the right response? Isn’t desire for God the very most prudent thing we could desire in our whole lives?  I think so

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