Vol.IV No.VIII Pg.8
September 1967

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Without claiming to be a writer I think I understand some of the writer's problems, and my heart goes out to a fellow-scribe of the 12th. Century. About that time this writer decided to produce the works of Saint Ephraem, a treatise which would require much writing material. Casting about, he came upon a 5th. Century Greek manuscript of the Bible which he either didn't recognize, or felt was too worn for further use -- or maybe he thought "Ephraem" was more important.

For whatever reason, he laboriously erased what he could, and then lettered his masterpiece between the lines. I can see him now, as he finished the last page, rubbed his tired eyes, and held the copy proudly before the candle's light.

Four hundred years later this book stirred certain scholars; but alas, not for Ephraem's work, but for the ancient Bible text written beneath. In 1834 the original writing was partially restored by use of chemicals; and in 1840 Tischendorf did an even better job of restoring, and later edited and published it.

Who was St. Ephraem? Who cares?? What did he write? Nothing of lasting importance. His treatise is just so much ink to try and remove, so we can study the valuable Bible text that is beneath it. The twelfth century writing is summarily dismissed by one textual critic with these words: "Apparently this was originally a complete Bible; it would have ranked with our greatest mms. If it had not been defaced by some medieval individual in need of writing material."

The new is NOT always the best. I once knew a lady who threw away an "old-fashioned marble-top dresser" so she could "fancy up" the bedroom with cheap veneered pieces. I happened to know better than that even then, twenty years ago. I suppose she would faint if she could know the value of that old marble-top dresser today.

But more important, and hence more pitiful, are those who throw away old character values -- such as decency, honor, or moral values -- for a fling at the "new look" of the hippies. The woman who kills her hair with dye, stains her lungs with smoke, destroys her "mother" image before her children; only to find that the styles have again changed, and she is too far gone for a come-back.