Is it true that Jesus never cited oral tradition? There are some who would suggest that there are no New Testament authors who cite oral tradition. Their point of view is simple; if neither Jesus nor the Apostles cited oral tradition then we cannot accept oral tradition today. The primary problem with this rejection of oral tradition is that Jesus did cite oral tradition from the prophets that is not anywhere in the Bible. Although, Jesus made this statement, “that what was spoken from the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’” (Matt 2:23), it is not found in the Bible. In fact this is one of many examples of oral tradition.
The Apostle Paul advocates both oral and written tradition. Paul says to the Thessalonians: "hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours" (2 Thess. 2:15). Here the Apostle Paul speaks for tradition both oral and written. What do people like Mr. Kimbal and others do with this verse when they are speaking against tradition. They do not bring it up and they hope that their reader or listener is unaware of it. Vatican II says that both sacred tradition and sacred scripture is to be accepted and venerated with the same devotion and reverence.
Another tradition that comes from 1 & 2 Maccabees is the feast of the dedication (Hanukkah). “Solomon also celebrated the feast in the same way for eight days”(2 Maccabees 2:12). The feast of the dedication is referenced in John 10: 22-23. “The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon” (Jn 10:22-23). No where in the Old Testament Bible is the Feast of Dedication except in 1-2 Maccabees which is not accepted by many Christians today. 1-2 Maccabees and 5 other deuterocanonical books were removed from many Bibles by Protestant Biblical societies in 1825.
I find it interesting to note that John 10 cites the Feast of Dedication that is talked about in 1-2 Maccabees; however, many Christians today no longer cite these books because their Biblical societies have removed them. Although, some Protestant Bibles in print today still have these books. For example, I purchased a copy of the original 1611 King James Bible and those deuterocanonical books are in there. Someone, in trying to suggest that these books were not in the original King James Bible, said to me, “I have a King James Bible and those books are not in there.” I pointed out that he didn’t have a copy of the original 1611 King James Bible. He has a copy of one of the many later editions that exclude these books.
Sue, a friend mine, said that she was opposed to tradition because Jesus spoke against tradition, “You nullify the word of God IN FAVOR OF YOUR TRADITION that you have handed on. And you do many such things…in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts” (Mk 7:5,7). I agreed with her because Jesus did speak against man-made human tradition. However, I asked her this question, “Do you know the specific tradition that Jesus was speaking against?” She said she didn’t know. I realized that because she didn’t know the answer to that question, she didn’t know the context. Yes, Jesus spoke against tradition; however, He did not speak against all tradition. He spoke against CORRUPT TRADITION.
Jesus spoke against this tradition because it was in violation of one of the commandments. "How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition” (Mk 7:10). So what was that commandment that was being nullified? Jesus went on to say; For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother shall die.' Yet you say, 'If a person says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"' (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother” (Mk 7:10-12). "Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).
This human tradition was in violation of the 4th commandment, “Honor your father and Mother.” This is why Jesus said; you nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things" (Mk 7:13). Jesus opposed it, not because he opposed all tradition, but a specific corrupt tradition that nullified the word of God.
Sue and other people, with all of their good intention, do not realize that they were taught to oppose all tradition by using Scripture out of context. The opposition of all tradition is not in the Bible. Jesus only apposed corrupt tradition. Interestingly enough, people who oppose all tradition, do so because THEIR TRADITION teaches them to.
How are so many people convinced that tradition in and of itself is wrong? A man by the name of Mr. Kimbal shows us exactly how it is done in his booklet called, The Bible and Roman Catholicism. He begins by quoting part of Mark 7 from the Jerusalem Bible as definitive proof that the Catholic Church is wrong to believe in both Tradition and the Bible.
"However, Jesus rebuked the usurping and undermining of scriptures through man-made tradition when He said, "The worship they offer me is worthless; the doctrines they teach are only human regulations. You put aside the commandment of God to cling to HUMAN TRADITIONS . . . In this way you make God's word null and void for the sake of your TRADITION which you have handed down" (MK. 7:7, 8, 13, J.B.V.) (Page 12 The Bible and Roman Catholicism).
The unwary reader looking at this can be easily led into believing that tradition is wrong. After all Jesus does speak against a tradition that is in violation of a commandment and this is Kimbal’s way of proving that accepting tradition is wrong. However, if you look very closely you will see three dots. These are an indication that Mr. Kimbal has left something out and what has been left out is the CONTEXT. He quotes Mark 7:7-8 and skips verses 9-12 and then quotes verses 13. Why did he leave out verses 9-12?
“And he said to them, ‘How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! For Moses said: Honour your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. But you say, “If a man says to his father or mother: Anything I have that I might have used to help you is Korban (that is dedicated to God),” then he is for bidden from that moment to do anything for his father and mother” (Mk 7:9-12 J.B.).
What Mr. Kimbal left out in Mark 7 is the specific tradition that Jesus is referencing. He left it out because this indicates that Jesus is not speaking against all tradition, but a corrupt tradition that nullifies the word of God. This amazed me that the dislike of Mr. Kimbal for the Church is so great that he would be willing to quote the Bible out of context in order to try and convince people that the Church is wrong. His intellectual honesty is sadly lacking.
It is not wrong to speak against corrupt tradition in violation of God’s commandments; however, it is wrong to speak against all tradition. If you follow the Bible you must believe in some tradition or you will be denying parts of the Bible that you profess to believe.
5 So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?" 6 He responded, "Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; 7 In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.'
8 You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition." 9 He went on to say, "How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! 10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and 'Whoever curses father or mother shall die.' 11 Yet you say, 'If a person says to father or mother, "Any support you might have had from me is qorban"' (meaning, dedicated to God), 12 you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.
13 You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things" (Mk 7:5-13).
SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION
1 Cor 11:2 - hold fast to traditions I handed on to you
2 Thess 2:15 - hold fast to traditions, whether oral or by letter
2 Thess 3:6 - shun those acting not according to tradition
Jn 21:25 - not everything Jesus said recorded in Scripture
Mk 13:31 - heaven & earth shall pass away, but my word won't
Acts 20;35 - Paul records a saying of Jesus not found in gospels
2Tim 1:13 - follow my sound words; guard the truth
2Tim2:2 - what you heard entrust to faithful men
2 Pet 1:20 - no prophecy is a matter of private interpretation
2Pet 3:15-16 - Paul's letters can be difficult to grasp & interpret
1Pet 1:25 - God's eternal word = word preached to you
Rom 10:17 - faith come from what is heard
1Cor 15:1-2 - being saved if you hold fast to the word I preached
Mk 16:15 - go to the whole world, proclaim gospel to every creature
Mt 23:2-3 - chair of Moses; observe whatever they tell you
*Mt 15;3 - break commandment of God for your tradition
*Mk 7:9 - set aside God's commandment to uphold tradition
*Col 2;8 - seductive philosophy according to human tradition
1Cor 11:2 - commends them for following Apostolic tradition
2Thess 2:15 - commands them to keep traditions
2Thess 3:6 - shun those acting not according to tradition