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Jewish Oral Traditions

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Dr. Walter, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. Dr. Walter

    Dr. Walter New Member

    Apr 28, 2010
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    The Online Jewish Encyclopedia makes this comment about what the New Testament refers to the traditions of the elders or oral traditions and interpretations of the law and the prophets by the elders:

    Contents of Oral Law.

    The substance of the "Torah shebe-'al peh" in the wider sense, as found in the Mishnah, in the Tosefta, and in the halakic midrashim, may be divided into the following eight groups:


    Explanations of certain statutes of the written law, which are not altogether intelligible without them, and which statutes therefore presuppose an oral interpretation. Such explanations admit of being connected in some artificial way with Scripture.


    Ancient halakot which have no connection whatever with Scripture and can not be connected with it, thus deriving their authority only from the tradition which ascribes them to Moses on Sinai. In the case of these two groups it is impossible to ascertain which elucidations and rules were really given to Moses on Sinai, and which were added later. The criterion of Maimonides, that all interpretations and statutes which never evoked divergent opinions are Sinaitic in origin, is correct only in a negative sense. Those explanations and regulations which have been interpreted in various ways are certainly not Sinaitic; but, on the other hand, many interpretations and statutes which are accepted unanimously and generally are equally non-Sinaitic in origin, since they are rabbinical institutions and laws which have never been explained divergently (comp. Ẓebi Hirsch Chajes, "Mebo ha-Talmud," pp. 10b et seq.).


    Halakot found in the prophetic books. Some of these originated at the time of the Prophets; but others are much older, and are, perhaps, even Sinaitic, having been transmitted orally, and committed to writing by the Prophets (comp. Sanh. 22b). They are called also "Dibre Ḳabbalah" (Words of Tradition).


    Interpretations and regulations defining many written laws, as well as new halakot, which the first scribes, beginning with the time of Ezra, formulated. They are called also "Dibre Soferim" (Words of the Soferim).


    Interpretations and regulations covering the written law, as well as new halakot, which the Tannaim deduced from Scripture by means of hermeneutic rules or by logical conclusions. There are differences of opinion among the scholars in regard to most of these explanations and definitions; but they are of equal weight with the written law, and are called also "Debar Torah" (Regulation of the Torah).


    Customs and observances ("taḳḳanot") which were introduced at various times by different scholars. They are ascribed partly to Moses, partly to Joshua, but chiefly to the members of the Great Synagogue or the Soferim, and are called also "Dibre Soferim."


    Statutes and decisions ("gezerot") decreed by the Sanhedrin or court, and generally accepted, thus becoming laws which could be abrogated only by another court superior to the first one in numbers and scholarship.


    Statutes and regulations for which the scholars had no tradition or allusion in Scripture, but which they accepted as standards after deriving them from the customs and laws of the country in which they were living. These are called "Hilkot Medinah" (Statutes of the Country). The regulations, observances, and statutes included in the last three groups were not considered equal in validity to the written law, but were regarded merely as rabbinical regulations ("de-rabbanan").

    Hence, according to the Jews the proper term for the traditions of the elders is Torah shebe-'al peh.

    This is the basis for justification by the deeds of the law and which Jesus was correcting in Matthew 5:20-48. This is also the basis for the profession of those in Matthew 7:21-23 of which Christ stated that he "NEVER" knew them.

    The oral laws reinterpreted the Torah and the prophets so that it made the law of God a LOWER STANDARD of righteousness making it possible to keep externally and thus provided the foundation for the Jewish belief that one could be justified by the deeds of the law.

    Likiewise, those who believe in justification by good works, do the exact same thing, they redefine God's standard of righteousness to a LOWER STANDARD or a different standard than God's own righteousness so that it is possible for sinners to measure up to the law in order to be justified by their works.

    Also, as you can see from the Jewish interpretation of the oral traditions it is similar to the Roman Catholic view of oral traditions by Christ and the Apostles. The Jews in Christ's day viewed the oral traditions as the Roman Catholic church for centuries has viewed the oral teachings of the Apostles. Interestingly, Christ NEVER ONCE appealed to the oral traditions of the Jews as final authority or placed them on equal level with the Scriptures as joint authority. Rome is following the pattern of Christ rejecting Israel in regard to oral traditions rather than the pattern and example of Christ.
    #1 Dr. Walter, Aug 24, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2010
  2. billwald

    billwald New Member

    Jun 28, 2000
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    >The oral laws reinterpreted the Torah and the prophets so that it made the law of God a LOWER STANDARD of righteousness making it possible to keep externally and thus provided the foundation for the Jewish belief that one could be justified by the deeds of the law.

    We have NO jewish writings from the first 70 years of the first century. The documents referred to were written brcause of the Destruction and because Christians were claiming ownership of the Tanakh.
  3. Dr. Walter

    Dr. Walter New Member

    Apr 28, 2010
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    I did not say we did. I simply said that the Jews during the first century were following oral traditions and interpretations which provided the basis for a justification by works mentality. Jesus directly confronts these traditional oral interpretations in Matthew 5:20-48 and repudiates them because they LOWER the standard of righteousness taught in the written Law of God
  4. Eric B

    Eric B Active Member
    Site Supporter

    May 26, 2001
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    Ironically, while the standard is actually lowered; it is made to appear HIGHER, on the surface, with all the added restrictions. Like the lists of don'ts for the sabbath, or my favorite, how a simple command not to boil a kid in his mother's milk now becomes you shall not eat ANY meat and milk togehter, separate the dishes, etc. Hard to do all that, yet still doable, and makes the people feelthey have really gained some sort of merit.

    And of course, the traditions are what they use to interpret messianic prophecies differently, so that they do not point to Jesus Christ.

    And yes, the Catholic traditions, which we have debated here, work pretty much the same way (with the exception of not openly diminishing Christ). Both groups find scriptures to support oral tradition by implication, but the "traditions" turn out to be teachings that are either mentioned in the same text, or elsewhere in scripture.