The Orthodox Christian Scriptures ―Part One ; By Ephraim, Metropolitan of Boston
HONOUR THE PHYSICIAN
The Orthodox Christian Scriptures ―Part One
By Ephraim, Metropolitan of Boston
In the Wisdom of Sirach, it says:
"Honour the physician with the honour due unto him for the uses ye may have of him: for the Lord created him…The skill of the physician shall lift up his head, and in the sight of great men he shall be in admiration. The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth, and he that is wise will not abhor them…And the Lord hath given men skill, that He might be honoured in His marvelous works. With such doth [the physician] heal men, and taketh away their pains. Of such doth the apothecary make a confection; and of his works there is no end; and from him is peace over all the earth"
(Wisdom of Sirach 38:1-8).
When I was a little boy of about seven or eight years of age back in California, one of my playmates [who was Protestant] asked me if I wanted to come over to his house that night for a Bible class. Since my mother often read me Bible stories, and I liked them, I was very much inclined to go to my friend's house that evening. But first, I had to get Mom's permission. Faster than it can be told, I ran home to get Mom's okay. She listened as I recounted my buddy's invitation, and she could see that I was obviously excited about it. Then she nodded her head in a negative way, and said, "No, I don't think so. You see, son, they don't use the same Bible we do."
"Awww, nuts! Come on, Ma! It'll be okay!" I persisted. "No, I don't think it will be okay. I'll buy you a book with some Bible stories," she concluded, firmly holding her ground.
I stomped out the back door, sulking and thinking to myself, "She only said that they don't have the same Bible we do because she doesn't want me to go to the Bible class."
But Mom was correct.
She was a simple woman. She had not had much of an education, but she was sharp as a tack [she had to be: she had given birth to seven male rapscallions, and it was only by expending desperate and superhuman efforts that she was able to prevent two of them, especially, from disrupting the entire neighborhood. She used to tell me, "If you had been a jackass when you were young, you would have died from the beatings you got!"]
However, to return to the main thrust of our story.
She was right, of course, about the non-Orthodox having a different Bible. By the word "different," she could have meant two things: 1] the actual books in the non-Orthodox Scriptures are different from those that we have in our Scriptures [true]; or 2] the Protestants and Roman Catholics interpret the books of the Holy Scripture differently than we do [also true].
The quotation that was used at the beginning of this article is a case in point. The Wisdom of Sirach [or Ecclesiasticus] is not found in the Protestant Bible, and the Roman Catholics call it "deutero-canonical," [whatever that is]. The odd thing, however, is that, in our Saviour's time, the Jewish people honored these texts as "Holy Scripture." Proof of this are the many quotations from these holy books that can be found in the New Testament.
Furthermore, if the Protestants had not rejected so many books of the Holy Scriptures, there might well have never arisen among them such strange nineteenth century sects as the so-called Christian Scientists, who, as we know, reject the use of human medicine ― often with disastrous results.
After all, as clearly as a bell, the Wisdom of Sirach teaches us:
"Honour the physician with the honour due unto him for the uses ye may have of him: for the Lord created him…."
There are other valuable teachings in these holy books, as well. For example, there is one prophetic text that, in less than fifty words, sums up the entire purpose of the Incarnation of the Son of God. In one sentence, in fact, it answers the question: why did God become man? This wonderful text is in the book, the Wisdom of Solomon, and in the clearest possible terms it tells us:
While all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her swift course, Thine almighty Word leaped out of Heaven out of Thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war, into the midst of a land of destruction.
(Wisdom of Solomon, 18:14-15)
We do, indeed, have a very different Bible from our non-Orthodox Christian friends.