The Inexhaustible Depth of Scripture

Sometimes people find in reading the Scriptures that the meaning of a passage is not plain or obvious.  Some find that discouraging as they want the text to be simple and easy to understand and they assume they shouldn’t have to work at all to find the meaning of the text.  Others are puzzled by how deep and complex a text can be with several layers of meaning, and they might find it frustrating that they cannot plumb the depths of all the meaning in the text.  St. Ephrem the Syrian, writing in the 4th Century (Commentary on the Diateressaron, 1.18-19), takes a different tact.  He sees the Scriptures as a fountain  from which the living word flows.  He thinks we should rejoice if we realize that there is meaning in the text which is beyond our current ability to discover.  It is after all God’s Word and not merely human words about God.  We should expect there is far more than meets the eye when we encounter the invisible God hidden in a text.  St Ephrem writes:

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. Be grateful for what you have received and do not grumble about the abundance left behind. What you have received and what you have reached is your share, what remains is your heritage.

(Renu Silvano, Seeking Jesus in the Old Testament, pp. 13-14)

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