I recently acquired the Spiritual Psalter or Reflections on God by St. Ephraim the Syrian. It has been a boon to my spiritual life and I pray it in the same way monastics use the psalter during the week for Orthros and Vespers. Going through these wonderful prayers, I was struck by this particular phrase from Psalter 29 of the 4th Kathisma, 2nd stasis where he says that "God is born incarnate, wearing flesh borrowed from her, having become man, which He was not, and remaining GOd, which He was, in order to save the world." I don't know if anyone is proficient in the Syriac to give me the etymology for the word "borrowed" but this particular word choice (which may be the fault of the translator), to me at least, indicates that once something is borrowed it should be returned. From my reading, and I am willing and wanting to be corrected, if the flesh is only borrowed then it is not really Christ's but something on loan and from there one may infer (though I see no indication whatsoever) that Ephraim was Apollinarist or Nestorian or Adoptionist in his Christology. If someone knows the Syriac, I would like to know what the etymology of the particular word for "borrowed" is and to clear up any confusion that word generates. Thanks.
It is ironic that you imply St Ephrem (Ephraim) may have been a heretic. I am not a scholar and fully know the dangers of relying upon Wikipedia, but the following excerpt points at St Ephrem as a champion of Orthodoxy.
"Ephrem, in his late fifties, applied himself to ministry in his new church, and seems to have continued his work as a teacher, perhaps in the School of Edessa. Edessa had always been at the heart of the Syriac-speaking world and the city was full of rival philosophies and religions. Ephrem comments that orthodox Nicene Christians were simply called 'Palutians' in Edessa, after a former bishop. Arians, Marcionites, Manichees, Bardaisanites and various Gnostic sects proclaimed themselves as the true church. In this confusion, Ephrem wrote a great number of hymns defending Nicene orthodoxy. A later Syriac writer, Jacob of Serugh, wrote that Ephrem rehearsed all-female choirs to sing his hymns set to Syriac folk tunes in the forum of Edessa."
It seems like the Saint was an innovator only in one respect: his use of Syriac (or secular) folk tunes for his all female choirs (gasp) to sing his hymns to. Is outrage, no?
Seriously though, I am amazed at our propensity to make mountains out of molehill. This saint was a poet, he spoke and wrote in Syriac, and was not a Greek. Therefore, it is extremely unfair to consider anything that he said in a linguistic, cultural and philosophical setting foreign to him. So, what if he used the word "borrowed"? It seems to me that our Creed supports such usage: "who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man." His humanity thus came from the Theotokos and it may not be fully accurate but not a falsity that his flesh was indeed borrowed from her, in a manner of speaking. I do not think that this act of borrowing makes him any less the Christ, nor do I think that it contradicts or lessens any of the other clauses of the Creed.
In this vein, I had been following the debates regarding the Orthodoxy (or not) of Chalcedon and I cannot understand why in the world there was and remains such a divide. Both sides seem to agree on the basics; why is that not enough? Why must we argue indefinitely over molehills?