The Know It All

November 11, 2014

I have in my library the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is a beautiful set. It makes me feel smarter just looking at it. But I do reference it pretty often.

     

Let me tell you about A.J. Jacobs. He decided that he was going to read the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. He purchased the entire set. The task before him was immense: 33,000 pages, 65,000 articles, 24,000 images, 9,500 contributors, 32 volumes, 44 million words.

     

He accomplished the task, then wrote a memoir about his experience of doing this. His book is entitled, “The Know-It-All.” The subtitle is: “One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World.”

     

Jacobs takes the reader from A to Z, with humorous and insightful comments along the way. I really enjoyed his book.

     

Obviously, a quest for knowledge is a healthy thing. I respect the noble endeavor of “The Know-It-All.” But in our quest for knowledge, let’s remember where it all begins.

     

While knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing, they are certainly first cousins. The writer of Proverbs in the Old Testament declares: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) Old Testament scholars tell us that a synonym for the word “fear” is the word “respect.”

     

The New Testament letter of James affirms, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

     

May our quest for knowledge and for wisdom always begin with God. I don’t know if you will find that in the Encyclopedia Britannica, but it is the truth.

 

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