Re: Great Lent # 07 - 13/03/2011 - on St. Ephrem
- Vineeth - Thanks for your messages on the forum. St. Ephrem, perhaps the most influential among early fathers of the Syriac Church and the tradition it came to represent, is unfortunately not well-known among Malankara Christians, except perhaps as a name commemorated in the fifth diptych. Hence, reflecting on his life especially on his memorial day that falls on the first Saturday of the Great Lent is indeed worthy.
However, I do want to call out an error. St. Ephrem was not born to a heathen priest. This is a false claim of certain late sources outside the Syriac world, repeated by T.J. Lamy in his biography without referring to original Syriac sources, and is contrary to what St. Ephrem himself records. In 26th of his 56 madroshe (teaching hymns) titled "Against Heresies," the saint writes, "I was born in the way of truth: though my boyhood understood not the greatness of the benefit, I knew it when trial came." Again more explicitly, if we may trust a confession which unfortunately survives only in a Greek translation of the Syriac, "I had been early taught about Christ by my parents; they who begat me after the flesh, had trained me in the fear of the Lord... My parents were confessors before the judge: yea, I am the kindred of martyrs.")
Recent biographies written by our authors in Malankara have uncritically repeated T.J. Lamy's error. We should let St. Ephrem's madrosho be the proper testimony for his life.
For more, see http://sor.cua.edu/Personage/MEphrem/index.html
Thomas Joseph, Ph.D.
Tech. Editor, Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies [ http://bethmardutho.cua.edu/Hugoye/ ]
Web Master, Syriac Orthodox Resources [ http://sor.cua.edu/ ]
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, Vineeth John Abraham wrote:
> Ephrem the Syrian, the greatest classical writer of the Syrian church was born in A.D 306 in Nisibis (North West of Mosul, Mesopotamia). His father is said to have been a heathen priest worshipping an idol called abnil. But the child Ephrem refused to accompany his parents to the temple of Abnil for which he was severely punished. He was later brought up by St. James the Bishop of Nisibis. He accompanied St. James to the council of Nicea at the age of 22.