A professor in college once told our class that every great thought had already been expressed. If we think we have a brilliant new insight, he said, chances are that somebody already thought of it.
Do you think this is true? I'm doubtful. Just look at the twentieth century.
Einstein reimagined the universe. And changed the world.
But my professor was right in reminding us of the wisdom of the past. Sir Isaac Newton—the greatest scientist until Einstein came along—reportedly said of his discoveries, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Newton was suggesting he benefited from those who preceded him. He was not the first person, however, to use the phrase “standing on the shoulders of giants.” It appears for the first time in the book of Jewish law and wisdom known as The Talmud.
In that 2000-year-old book, the Jewish sages say, “If we have found wisdom, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants.”
We Christians and Jews are the heirs of great scholars and teachers who came before us. We stand on their shoulders.
So when we speak of faith and truth today, we do so with humility: humble in our recognition of their wisdom, and mindful that we are only the latest link in the chain of God's eternal creation.
I am humble enough to admit I need your help in spreading word about my upcoming book The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today.