Monday, October 6, 2008

Question 1 from Negative

Question 1 The Oral Tradition of the Jews and the Old Covenant

by Matthew Bellisario

In my opening statement I demonstrated how the Jews did not hold the Scriptures to be their only authority in regards to Divine Revelation. You responded by one small paragraph questioning their infallible character. How then do you regard Jesus Christ Himself who makes use of an Oral tradition in regards to the Old Covenant when referring to an oral teaching of the Rabbis, which is found no place in the Old Testament Sacred Scriptures? Jesus Himself in Matthew 23: 1-3: refers to an Oral Tradition and teaching to be followed by His own command, yet the Old Testament Scriptures make no reference to this. Jesus is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew, "Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all the things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.’ " There are other New Testament Scripture passages as well that prove an oral teaching of the Jews. For example 1 Cor 10:4 which is found only in Jewish Oral Tradition.

The chair of Moses was the oral teaching authority of the Jews. Yet Sacred Scripture is silent on this. How do you explain away this clear contradiction to Scripture alone in reference to the Jewish Oral tradition? I presented evidence from two Jewish scholars in my opening statement, who readily admit that the Jewish faith was not a faith of Scripture alone, yet you never even made an attempt to refute them in your rebuttal.

In case you need refreshing these were my sources that I provided this in my opening essay.

“In reading many sources on Judaism one point is crystal clear. They did not hold to a Scripture alone position regarding God's Divine Revelation to them. In regards to the Torah, they believed that there was the written Torah and the Oral Torah (Torah she-be-al peh) that coincided with it. They believed that this oral tradition held the same weight and antiquity that the written text did. (1995 Ariel)

“It is understood by the Jewish people that every written law must be accompanied by an oral one to preserve proper interpretation of the written. (2006 Steinsaltz)”

You replied with, “No good reason has been given for this distinct source of revelation. MB provides an analogy to the Rabbinical traditions, but acknowledges that the Rabbis were not inspired, but were fallible men. Thus, the Rabbinical traditions fail MB. If fallible traditions were ok for the Jews, the analogy would suggest that they would also be ok for the nations. “

Yet my two Jewish scholars say that the Oral Tradition held the same weight as the written. This means that they are Divine Revelation from God Himself. My question is, why do you reject the ancient Jewish position of Scripture and Tradition as one living source of Divine Revelation, when I have presented two scholars who attest to it? I have now provided an additional example presented from Sacred Scripture itself with Jesus Himself clearly referring to an oral Tradition of the Jews. Please explain.


Ariel, David S. What Do Jews Believe. New York: Schocken Books, 1995.

Steinsaltz, Adin. The Essential Talmud. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

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