I recently came across a conversation online in which someone insisted that he didn’t need tradition at all, because he had the Bible. Why trust the word of men when you have the word of God? I was reminded again of just how complicated it is to try to believe in what the Bible says while rejecting Christian tradition.
We’ve covered matters relating to sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”) and Christian tradition here before, but I thought I might do a little thought experiment here to illustrate just how complicated it is to try to hold these two beliefs, namely, 1) that the Bible is true and also 2) that Christian tradition is false or at least unnecessary. For the purposes of this thought experiment, we’re going to define “tradition” as anything which is seen as necessary and yet is not explicitly endorsed in the Biblical text. The idea here is that the Bible comes from God and tradition comes from fallible human beings, so tradition should be ignored while the Bible should be heeded.
Of course, there is a vast landscape of things that Christians do that are not commanded in the Bible, and they could all be understood in some sense as traditions. But let’s focus in on just one thing that Christians do—reading the Bible.
Just the simple act of reading the Bible requires the use of tradition on multiple levels, or at least the imposition of extra-Biblical processes and opinions. How? Let’s see seven reasons:
1. If you are reading the Bible for yourself at home…
…then you are unlike most Christians in history, most of whom could never afford a Bible and many of whom could not read. And you are unlike anyone ever described anywhere in the Bible itself. No one in the Bible anywhere says that you should own your own Bible or even that you should read it for yourself. Most people in the history of Christianity heard the Bible both read and explained to them in church services. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own a Bible you read at home, but if you do, you’re doing something that isn’t in the Bible. And it’s also worth noting that there was no complete Bible for the first few centuries of Christianity, so no one could own one they could read at home.
2. If you believe that the Bible’s meaning is simply apparent to you without anyone’s help…
…then you are discounting everything you have learned about what the Bible means from other people and even what language itself means. You are discounting that someone else taught you to read. You are ignoring every sermon you’ve ever heard, every Bible commentary you’ve ever read, and every Sunday School class you have attended. All those people told you things about what the Bible means. And the words they used weren’t just quotes from the Bible. Even if they were, which quotes they chose required an act of their own wills. The Bible didn’t tell them which ones to use.
3. If you are reading a translation of the Bible…
…then you are trusting someone else’s word about what it says. The Bible never says it’s okay to use translations, and it doesn’t endorse one over another. Translators have to make choices, and every choice they make can either add or subtract meaning from the text. The Bible doesn’t tell them which choices to make. And different translators make different choices. Which translators do you trust? The Bible doesn’t tell you.
4. If you are reading the Bible in the original languages…
…then you not only had someone teach you Greek or Hebrew, but you also made a choice or accepted someone else’s choice when it came to which version of the Biblical text you would read. There are multiple manuscript traditions, and they’re not all the same. And the Bible doesn’t tell you which one you should follow or how you can recognize which is the right one. Whichever one you pick requires trusting centuries of copyists (usually monks) to keep the text straight. Even using an amalgam text (which is what most translations are based on) is itself an extra-Biblical choice. There are no surviving original manuscripts from the apostles or prophets.
5. If you are reading the Old Testament in Hebrew…
…then you’re not using the Old Testament most often used by the apostles in their writings, which was the Greek Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament made by Greek-speaking Jews completed perhaps as early as the late second century BC. Using Hebrew rather than Greek is an extra-Biblical choice, but using Greek rather than Hebrew is, as well.
6. If you are reading the Old Testament at all…
…then you are benefiting from the Jewish community’s traditions of textual transmission and editing—and not just the Jewish community in general, but particular parties within Judaism, which as a whole had several different incipient canons all by the time of Christ. And within the text itself, there are clear signs that not everything written under someone’s name is from that person. For instance, the Books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, both attributed to Moses, include the details of his death and burial. How could Moses have written that? He didn’t. Those details were included in a process of tradition.
7. If you are reading from a book labeled with the word Bible…
…then you are reaping the fruit of the canonization process of the Biblical text, which took roughly three hundred years for the New Testament alone (the earliest known complete list of the New Testament books dates from AD 367). (The Old Testament’s process is somewhat more complicated.) This process chose which books to include and even edited the texts themselves. Even the idea that the Biblical texts should all be included in a single volume called “the Bible” is not something found in the Bible. No one in the Bible talks about a thing called “the Bible” (i.e., a single book). The Bible includes no table of contents anywhere in its texts, and there’s certainly nothing saying that Genesis should be first and Revelation should be last or that there should be Old and New Testaments. And the Bible you read may have a different Old Testament than the one the apostles did, i.e., not just different in language but with a different list of books (the Septuagint includes books like Tobit, Baruch and the Maccabees). And the people who completed the canonization process in the fourth century strongly endorsed tradition, both for Christian life in general and for understanding the Scriptures in particular.
You can’t get away from tradition while reading the Bible.
So, in short, the Bible can never serve as a direct, unaided line of access to God’s message to mankind without the involvement of other people. Other people are involved at every step of the way. That you can own a Bible and read it at home is the result of not only the labors of the apostles and prophets who wrote it under divine inspiration, but it is also the result of many centuries of thousands of people putting it together in various ways that have all contributed to making possible what seems like a very simple act—reading the Bible.
It’s impossible to read the Bible without tradition. Tradition gave you the Bible. So the question really is: Which tradition?
all good points (I am a convert to Orthodoxy from evangelicalism) except for the stuff about no Bible to speak of in existence for a few hundred years. The canon we have now was established from the start by usage from The Apostles, as shown by St. Irenaeus c. AD 150 and others, the Council that supposedly established the canon of Scripture merely reiterated the existing tradition (as did Nicea regarding Christology, AND APPEALED TO THE SCRIPTURES AS THE REASON TO BELIEVE HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD ON THE THIRD DAY), and aimed to stop incursions of false documents from heretics. The codex form of binding made combing all books under one cover, and was invented by Romans sometime shortly BC. In one of the Hebrew Prophets, God says to write the prophecy so that one can read it while running, i.e., big letters. Literacy was a bit more common than we believe.
I don’t disagree with any of this. I didn’t write that there was “no Bible to speak of in existence for a few hundred years.” Rather, the point was that there wasn’t a fully developed canon of Scripture.
In any event, the idea of a single codex with all the Biblical texts is itself a relatively late one. Traditionally, Biblical texts were included in liturgical collections, such as the Evangelion, Apostolos, Psalter and Prophetologion.
“The canon we have now was established from the start by usage from The Apostles, as shown by St. Irenaeus c. AD 150 ”
Since irenaeus refers to the Shepherd of Hermes as scripture, that’s a rather odd assertion to make.
A wonderful article that will undoubtedly be eye-opening for many people. I would love to see a follow-up on how this does affect our view of the written Word; for some, this type of article may be a stepping stone to unbelief since they may rely heavily on absolutes. Just my thoughts.
A good read, I was wondering if I could have your permission to re-post this for discussion on christianforums.com?
Please just post excerpts with a link back to the original rather than reposting in full. Thank you!
I very much appreciated this article, Fr. Andrew. It is vitally important for Christians to understand that scripture cannot be understood apart from tradition. For the Orthodox Christians, it is similarly important to understand the distinction between tradition and custom. Thank you for sharing this!
Reblogged this on Investigationes pro Divinum Verum.
Thank you for your thoughts on this matter Fr. Andrew. I am in the process of trying (yes, trying) to convert to Catholicism -Roman or Orthodox – from Lutheranism. I want to belong to the original church very badly, but the very issue that you discussed is a stumbling block for me. My problem is this: There are times when I cannot reconcile scripture with tradition, and I believe that the two should agree, especially because of the reasons that you stated above. My issues are typical of protestants, and I would love if you or anyone else reading this could help me overcome these hang-ups.
1. Prayer to Saints or Mary- Where did this come from? If the unchanging Church that compiled the Bible teaches that we can pray to Saints and Mary, why did they not include the correlating scripture? Was this part of the faith spoken about by Jesus but omitted by all of the apostles? How does the Church tradition know this practice to be true without it being explicit in scripture? I can’t get over the idea of Church that Christ founded teaching that He cannot hear us here on Earth as well as he can hear those in Heaven, or that Christ, who died for all, favors those in Heaven over the ones still living on Earth. Where is this in scripture? Again, I want to be Catholic. I just can’t be a part of a church that teaches something I cannot directly connect to Christ’s message. I’ve really tried to bend my mind to see what Catholics seem to see so clearly, but I’ve never been able to find anything in the Bible that even implies that Jesus would want us to pray to anyone but Him or that the departed can hear us. (Do not quote the passage in Revelation. If you found such a powerful element of Church doctrine on that, you are using fewer passages than the people who use the Bible to predict the end of the world… and that should bother you) If Saints can hear me pray, why would I even select one by name? If I can super-charge my prayer by asking those favored by Jesus to intercede for me, why would I not say: “Dear, Saints…” Are departed Saints as jealous as God? or could I say: “Dear Saints and Jesus”? It just feels wrong to do that though. Is there evidence that people who pray to Saints have more “success” with prayer? If I could come to grips with this issue, I would convert to Orthodoxy immediately. As I understand, Orthodox Catholics do not believe in Purgatory and do not sell indulgences. I might be wrong about that, so please correct me if I am. Please help me with this!!!
2. Purgatory- As soon as I read about the Septuagint, I was excited that maybe the missing elements would align, but then I read the sections that supposedly justify Purgatory, and I could not see the relationship between the glimmer of an idea that I saw in scripture and the details that I hear about from Roman Catholics.
I can’t think of any other issues that would keep me from becoming Catholic… but then again, if you take away Prayer to Saints and Mary, Purgatory, and indulgences, you are very close to Lutheranism. Please help me.
Although Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics handle Tradition differently (both in terms of how it functions and what its contents are), neither church sees Tradition as necessarily deriving everything from Scripture, but rather that none of it is inconsistent with Scripture. Mind you, we would differ on whether the other side is right about whether its tradition is consistent with Scripture. A good example is the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Filioque, which the Orthodox see as changing the words of Christ Himself in John 15:26 but Roman Catholics see essentially as nevertheless consistent with them.
As for the specific matters you mention:
1. We ask the saints to pray for us because we are commanded to pray for one another. The idea that earthly death ends this relationship is the problem, not continuing the practice we have in life. There are abuses of this practice, of course, where saints are seen as “friends at court” who can approach the King when we can’t or as magical beings who grant particular favors, but that approach is not in accordance with Orthodox teaching, nor, I believe, with Roman Catholicism. The prayer and veneration that we offer to saints is really not the same as the prayer and worship we offer to God alone. “Pray” really just means “ask” (so you literally “pray” every time you place an order at a drive-through window), but one doesn’t ask for a saint’s help in the same way one asks for God’s.
2. I won’t offer up any defense of Purgatory, since I do not believe in it and find it contrary to both Scripture and the rest of Tradition. The Orthodox Church does not teach Purgatory, nor its accompanying system of indulgences, the “storehouse of merits,” etc.
Thank you so much for responding to my comment! I don’t know anyone who belongs to the Orthodox Church, and I feel blessed that you have chosen to answer my questions.
So, if I understand you correctly, Orthodox Christians do not believe that Saints have more favor with the Father than a saint on Earth. Thank you for clearing that up. I am aware of the difference between worship and prayer. I like the illustration of a drive through 🙂
I guess the question that I still have is about the origins of the practice of praying to physically departed Saints and the difference between praying to another living person versus one who is departed. Does the Orthodox Church believe that the living can speak to the dead by using the same method that we use to speak to God? Maybe that is what bothers me the most. If that is the case, why do you believe this? I understand the idea that we are not really dead when we die physically, but what makes you believe that you can speak to them? This is where I feel like I have to trust a human rather than God’s Word. I want to follow the Messiah. Jesus is the foundation of my faith, and the Bible gives us an account of the early Church. I just don’t ever see them praying/asking/speaking to physically dead people.
Can you help me with this? Again, thank you so much! I know you don’t have to help people over the internet, and there are many people who “troll” religious leaders on the internet. Believe me when I say that I am seeking spiritual guidance. Thank you!
The saints who are departed don’t have more “favor” (I’m not sure what that means, exactly), but they certainly are unfettered by sin. And those who are righteous on earth are also better at prayer for the same reason, though they of course still suffer from sin. “The prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
As for “method,” well, the Scriptures also tell us that we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) and also that the saints in Heaven offer up our prayers at the throne of God (Rev. 5:8-10). So they definitely are aware of us and what we are saying, and we know that they offer our prayers to God (not to themselves, mind you).
My question is really why there ought to be the assumption that those who are physically dead cannot hear us. Among those who reject praying with the departed saints, there seems to be this idea that death really has them, not that they are alive in Christ and therefore still aware and connected to the whole Body of Christ.
The Tradition of the Church also has pretty immediate, early experience of the intercession of the departed saints, including interaction with them. This isn’t a matter of the Gospel, of course, which is why it didn’t need to be included in Scripture, but it certainly has been part of the experience of the Church from the beginning.
In any event, regarding giving spiritual guidance, because I don’t know you in person, I am not qualified to give it to you. I can answer certain general questions as I have here, though. Since you don’t know any Orthodox people (that you know of), I recommend you look up local Orthodox churches near you, especially one that worships in a language you understand. This site will help: http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/directories/parishes
Thank you! I appreciate all of your help! May God bless you!
I too left the Lutheran church (Missouri Synod) to become Orthodox, and I have never regretted it. Give yourself time, talk with Orthodox priests and church members. I’ll pray for you.
“The Orthodox Church does not teach Purgatory, nor its accompanying system of indulgences, the “storehouse of merits,” etc.”
I’d like to hear more on this as I’ve been told by several Greek and Russian Orthodox priests that the aerial toll houses are a matter of required belief. One of the priests justified indulgences as well, citing the practice of the Greek Church.
These local Orthodox churches have placed a major stumbling block for myself and my family with their teaching regarding toll houses (besides the ethnic bias that I try my hardness to ignore, but let’s face it, who wants to join a fellowship when you’re treated as an outsider? Alas but I digress.)
Aerial toll houses are not the same thing as Purgatory. They are also the subject of some controversy within Orthodoxy, rather than settled doctrine as Purgatory is for Rome.
With all due respect, there are two problems here:
1) Consensus Concilium not Consensus Patrum is the correct doctrinal hermeneutic. What is in the Holy Councils is what is required to believe (or more accurately the Councils define the boundries which we may NOT believe). Consensus Patrum is a Protestant hermeneutic.
Even*if* we went by the consensus of the Fathers, there isn’t properly speaking a *consensus* on aerial tolls.
2) Archbishop Lazar had made a convert out of me on this issue. One of the books published by his monastery demonstrates that it literally came straight out of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, into Egyptian Gnostic thought, from whence it infected otherwise excellent saints.
Used metaphorically, it is ok in the way that one tells a runner in a race to run *past* the finish line so they don’t falter right before they actually cross it.
As actual theology, I say with absolute conviction that *after* you have experienced bodily death, there is NOTHING that can be done by your own will or by demons that can influence the course of the Judgement. Period.
Instead of *purgatory* consider the question of *purgation* (etymology: from Latin purgationem (nominative purgatio) “a cleansing, purging,”).
For most Christians, at the time of our death we are not *exactly* what Christ wants us to be. And yet, after bodily death, we will partake in the divine nature and commune with God in a more intimate and comprehensive way than on Earth (in which the Eucharist is the foretaste of this intimacy).
In my opinion, those who go to Heaven will experience perfect contrition for their sins probably for the first time (when we see the true magnitude of our sins) and will more perfectly appreciate what exactly Christ has done–a wonderous thing!–in reconciling sinners with God.
This perfection of our contrition, and of our will, perhaps even an enhancing of our intellect is a purification from the remaining effects of our fallen state.
Purification = purgation.
“Purgatory” then isn’t a punitive place, but a therapeutic transition to being better.
“Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”
(From the Catholic Encyclopedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm)
To my knowledge Father, the only place where purgatorial temporal punishments are dogmatically touched upon is Trent Session VI canon XXX.
“CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.”
While purgatorial temporal punishment is by far the most popular view, the Eastern theology of those in communion with Rome see purgation as a therapeutic state–an observation not only made by myself, but also Metropolitan Kallistos who is in the ecumenical dialogue trenches as much as anyone.
But anyway, canon XXX is aimed at those who deny temporal punishments altogether.
And while a ‘plain reading’ would make it seem like those who affirm some nebulous belief in temporal punishment in this life (like the death of David’s son) but deny temporal punishment in purgatory are subject to the canon’s anathema, Rome is not obligated to follow that interpretation.
I hope and pray that Rome *does* get coaxed away from post-death temporal punishment, and the sooner the better.
You might find the final chapter of _On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy_ by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite helpful in answering your questions. He addresses prayer for the dead and, in doing so, intercessory prayer in general, and within the context of a theology of hierarchy, whereby the gifts of God are conveyed to believers by those who are more advanced along the spiritual way. You can find an old translation in the public domain here:
(that links directly to Chapter 7, on the funeral service)
Or buy the more modern translation:
If the translations are a bit difficult to follow, that is because the Areopagite’s Greek is itself quite elaborate, probably on purpose to force the reader to ponder it more slowly and carefully.
Of course, if you find yourself becoming more interested in his concepts, I encourage you to read the entire work _On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy_! It is not apostolic testimony, since it is now almost universally agreed that “Dionysius the Areopagite” was not the 1st-century Athenian disciple of the apostle Paul that he claims to be, but rather an early 6th-century Syrian author. Nevertheless, his writings are an important touchstone of Orthodox theology (and also were for western medieval theology too, by the way). And they provide a particularly concise and lucid explanation of the doctrines you’re trying to understand.
May God’s wisdom be a lamp to your feet and a light to your paths!
Although not directly related to seeking intercession from the departed saints, 2 Maccabees 12:46 (which you won’t find in the Protestant versions) says: “It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” So, if a pre-resurrection believer was able to intercede on behalf of the dead, then how much more can we rely on the departed saints, unencumbered by sin, to pray on our behalf, with the Gates of Hades destroyed by Christ’s death and resurrection? The connection we have with the whole Church (God being the God of the living, rather than the dead) is certainly even more dynamic and close than during the time of the Maccabees, when Hades still reigned over the dead.
Why are you “trying” to convert? Lutheranism is no worse, or better, less traditional, or more traditional.
This is all well and good, but even the magisterial Reformed would agree with all of this. Are there any such articles on here at O&H that specifically talk about this subject from the perspective of the Magisterial Reformed communities? I couldn’t find any but I may not have navigated the archives we’ll enough to find it.
I should expand my previous comment and say that this seems to target American evangelicalism in particular rather than Protestantism as a whole.
O&H is written entirely by Orthodox Christians, so, no, you won’t find anything written here from a Reformed perspective.
Sorry, Father, I seem to have miscommunication what I had intended to say.
I have heard Reformed say much the same thing to evangelicals. This post could have been written by some Reformed communities to their evangelical brethren. What I was wondering was if there was a critique on this topic aimed in particular at the magisterial Reformed as this particular post seems aimed at low church evangelicals.
Does that make sense?
John, you may want to consider two sources , one Orthodox. Fr. Josiah Trenham’s book “Rock and Sand” is essentially a survey of Reformed thought from an Orthodox perspective. The other would be the blog Orthodoxbridge.com. There are many excellent articles there that address many of the Reformed objections. As a Reformed believer for over 25 years moving towards the OC, I have found these two sources as well as At the Intersection of East and West on Ancient Faith radio to be immensely helpful.
This article is worth appreciating for a number of reasons. On one hand, it addresses an issue that is often left to lie still when it should be debated. On the other hand, it also illustrates just how shoddy the “can-do” spirit of rugged individualism can become when taken to excesses in the realm of reading sacred scripture. One does not grab an ordinary first grade student and ask him to read or write on a fifth grade level without first providing him with additional education in spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. Unfortunately, much of Protestant America doesn’t seem to understand this idea in relation to the Bible; a document that trips up even the most accomplished intellectuals with its textual intricacies, such as archaic vocabulary, archaic euphemisms nobody uses (or readily understands) today, ancient slang, and literary devices (such as metaphors) being used in ways that were popular centuries ago but rarely appear in modern writing. One has to spend a lot of time studying ancient culture, archaeology, and history just to have an inkling of what the Bible really means without soliciting outside help, yet the idea that one needs the assistance of the clergy or the learned is antithetical to Protestantism thanks to the worldviews being peddled by the educational system in my country. Allow me to elaborate a bit further.
As an American who was born and raised in the Orthodox Church, I had difficulty handling the “mainstream” view of scripture prevailing in Protestant America. This view (or rather a slightly simplified version of it) considers the Bible a single monolithic object that was written as a singular unit and “published” in one go. This view also likes to support the idea of “New Testament Churches” that are “founded on” the Word of God, that is to say this view holds that the Bible came before the Church. Most readers of this blog will be familiar with this idea; the reason why I state it anyway is not to share something new, but to point out that “cradle” Orthodox raised in the United States are spoon-fed Protestant worldviews and conceptions of scripture in their secular educations.
My history classes largely ignored the first millennium of Christianity but then gave enormous attention to Catholicism after 1054 and especially liked to emphasize episodes in which the medieval papacies either fought monarchs over temporal power or fought one another in the Avignon-Rome split (which they call the “Great Schism,” because apparently the Schism of 1054 is “not as important”). As if this is not troubling enough, the authors of America’s secular history textbooks go into great detail about the Reformation while giving the Counter-Reformation far less space and less favorable treatment. These are just a few of the editorial decisions that textbook producers make when they publish the information shaping the basic worldviews of the American people via the educational system. Others include giving prominence to the five “Solas” and the Puritan work ethic. The supposition that stands out from among these others is the one I alluded to earlier: the Bible magically came into being as a neatly-wrapped package tied with a bow.
What annoys me most about this idea is the fact that it is so easily rebutted on paper, but in practice it is all but impossible. When I point out to protestants that the Bible is an anthology of works rather than a single work, and that an organized church bureaucracy performed the task of assembling the constituent books to form said anthology, they dig in their heels. “Yes,” they admit, “churchmen had a hand in the Bible’s creation.” However, they scorn the notion that this means the Bible is part of a larger body of tradition. They claim that the Bible came first because all of its individual books were written long before the church bureaucracy reached any sort of critical mass, and thus they fall into the logical trap of assuming that because A preceded B, A must have caused B. They reason that if the four gospels were written before the ecumenical councils took place, or Christianity got legalized, or gained enough followers to survive losing thousands to periodic persecution, then the gospels must be more authoritative than any councils, canons, practices, or any other component of Holy Tradition because age determines precedence.
Perhaps the most galling part of this entire environment is the number of times that secular history teachers like to mention how the Reformation “freed” Christians from having the Bible interpreted for them by the clergy, as if to say that having a system by which the educated have more say in matters requiring education than the uneducated is somehow a bad thing. The American education system likes to spew this sort of rhetoric because the United States is an egalitarian country founded on a dislike of traditional political and religious hierarchies (especially undemocratic ones), so any system that says “let the experts decide matters for the masses” goes against the grain of American national character on multiple levels. This may ultimately explain why American Protestants are as ardent about flying solo through Biblical studies as anyone else.
If I may observe? I was educated in England and we all had Scripture Classes at school. We were told about the origins of the Bible as a collection of books especially the Books of the Old Testament. and so the odd ideas of the Bible as gifted from on high as a single volume was only held by those girls (a girls’ school, yes) who belonged to more extreme sects, even the Methodists didn’t demur.
I would like to ask however if ,as we have been taught in Britain, that “According to the Scriptures’ means ” in accordance with what the prophets had predicted and was included in the Jewish Scriptures” in 17th Century language , rather than “What was written down in the church records of the Resurrection.” as people claim in New Zealand?
We were perhaps more familiar with 17th century terms than U.S and NZ school children with our compulsory English Language and Literature Classes in the 1950s- there was a lot of Eng Lit of that period to be got through and so it would have been easier for us to understand
To read the Bible but to deny the traditions is like saying you want knowledge but you deny the categories. Traditions are the vehicle of Scripture. They may not be binding but they are absolutely necessary. To try and read the Scriptures w/o traditions is like someone born in the USA viewing the world without an American point of view. it just can’t happen.
A. Basil wrote in 370 AD:
“What then? After all these efforts were they tired? Did they leave off? Not at all. They are charging me with innovation and base their charge on my confession of three hypostases, and blame me for asserting one Goodness, one Power, one Godhead. In this they are not wide of the truth, for I do so assert. Their complaint is that their custom does not accept this, and that Scripture does not agree. What is my reply? I do not consider it fair that the custom which obtains among them should be regarded as a law and rule of orthodoxy. If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth.” (Basil, Letter 189, 3)
To learn Torah and to teach it (Deut. 6:7)
That every person shall write a scroll of the Torah for himself (Deut. 31:19)
That the King shall write a scroll of the Torah for himself, in addition to the one that every person should write, so that he writes two scrolls (Deut. 17:18)
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