Another request for information: oral Torah vs. human tradition

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Feb 23 2022 2:01 PM

Yes, I'm still working away on an argument map despite the lack of reasonable functionality on the Faithlife site. I've come across a common assertion in conservative resources for which I find no one trying to justify. Do you know of any source - book or article - that explains why oral Torah is assumed to be identical to/part of human tradition rather than there being two independent things? No discussion -- just references.

Note: I have been concentrating my readings recently on conservative resources so don't go reading anything into "conservative" beyond these forums are where I am most apt to find people with these resources.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 23 2022 2:11 PM

MJ. Smith:
Do you know of any source - book or article - that explains why oral Torah is assumed to be identical to/part of human tradition rather than there being two independent things? No discussion -- just references.

Holwerda, David E. “Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year A.” In The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Texts, Volume Three, edited by Roger E. Van Harn. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.

&

Harold W. Hoehner, Philip W. Comfort, and Peter H. Davids, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, Philemon., vol. 16 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008), 197.

“The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.” St. Peter of Alcántara

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 23 2022 2:29 PM

Thankyou. These are useful data points especially for "traditions of the elders" and "apostolic tradition" but I am looking for something very specific -- the equation of traditions of the elders to oral Torah ... I find it assumed or asserted but never justified ... and I can easily produce arguments against the equating but need to produce one for it.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 23 2022 4:54 PM

Carefully not discussing. And no offense, but you're tossing verbage from different time periods around? I didn't understand, either, until Fredriksen pointed out that 'oral Torah' was a loosening of requirements ... and began listing them out.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 23 2022 5:20 PM

Which Fredriksen resource? The clue as to the period of the term is also useful ... it was a Kabbalahist who introduced me to oral Torah which adds another level for confusion.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Gordon Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 23 2022 5:33 PM

MJ. Smith:

Do you know of any source - book or article - that explains why oral Torah is assumed to be identical to/part of human tradition rather than there being two independent things?

I won't pretend to know the answer because I don't think I fully grasp your question, but I did recently read Walton & Sandy's "The Lost World of Scripture" and I found it both fascinating and convincing: https://www.logos.com/product/163460/the-lost-world-of-scripture-ancient-literary-culture-and-biblical-authority

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 23 2022 6:33 PM

It's on my list to read. I'll move it up a bit. I fear I'm one who easily gets distracted by rabbit trails when an author flagrantly abuses logic -- the issue that sent me off on this track.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Roy | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 23 2022 10:20 PM

I've tried several different searches of my library and found many different things. Not sure any of them really apply here but this may...

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Salmon, Marilyn J. Preaching without Contempt: Overcoming Unintended Anti-Judaism. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2006.

"There is a sharp criticism of the “tradition of the elders” (7:5), which is another name for the Oral Law.22"
Footnote: Josephus uses this term for the Oral Torah. See Jewish Antiquities 13:297. So does Paul, in Gal. 1:14.

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https://www.logos.com/product/43170/the-gospel-of-john-a-commentary 

Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary & 2. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012.

"We may safely leave aside discussion of the concept of “oral law” here. Although rabbinic traditions eventually came to be identified with the law itself as a sort of “oral law,”278 and viewed oral tradition as greater than written Torah279 (because oral law encompassed and explained written law),280 it is debated how widely spread this development was in the Johannine period.281"

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Too much stuff/information. To be honest, I'm not sure how much of what I found would fit your request. I think most of what I found doesn't "Explain why", it just continues to "Assume".

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Feb 23 2022 10:25 PM

Very helpful - one confirms what I was uncomfortable about is widespread; the other gives me some very good clues as to how to track down the unsubstantiated assumption as it directly contradicts another source I have. Not to mention Salmon and Keener disagree on the relevance of Philo on the point.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 24 2022 2:05 AM

DMB:
you're tossing verbage from different time periods around

Is this better at avoiding anachronous language? "The accurate distinction is between “torah shebeʾal peh” Torah by memory (oral Torah) vs. “torah shebikhtav” written Torah."

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 24 2022 6:24 AM

MJ. Smith:
Is this better at avoiding anachronous language? "The accurate distinction is between “torah shebeʾal peh” Torah by memory (oral Torah) vs. “torah shebikhtav” written Torah."

Well, again not offending (written vs oral, is so amenable to offending), but I assume it's what you meant to mean! Your first question seemed to refer to the sinful Pharisees (conservative Christian lens) who were targeting sinless Jesus, using their own rules (not 'the law').  Like that. My comment suggested that the Smooth-Things-Seekers (Pharisees) were actually the easy-going-use-traditions-not-the-law-but-oral-law, as per the DSS criticisms of the Temple operators, and thus definitionally the human-traditions people (ergo your questioned equation).

This probably needs a semantic diagram!

But I'm guessing (as you mentioned) you're later in the jewish sequence (maybe around 700-1000ce)?  Of course, Roy's quotes are another presumed period (John's gospel), recognizing there is hardly much to speculate with (an earlier posting this week).

Added (to further confuse; please ignore):

One of the big latter-day mysteries is the Joel prophesy (that is used at Pentecost, with LXX changes), that essentially destroys the priesthood, handing the Holy Spirit over to everyday people (women, elder ones, even kids ... quite revolutionary for both Joel-times, as well as Jesus-times). But oddly, the Pharisees seemed to advocated the same ... 'everyone a priest' ... in espousing priestly rules to everyday Israelites.  This was another Fredriksen observation, and I couldn't find your requested reference .... of course. OK, just muddling the waters.

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 10 2022 3:10 PM

MJ:

Not sure if the following will be of help.

Note the 3rd element: non scriptural or extra scriptural tradition.

Could it include Oral Torah?, a group of leaders believed that Moses gave Oral Torah besides the written one, and it was given to certain persons.

It seems that with time, a group of wisdom sages (the supposed guardians of oral Torah) decided to declare themselves "Living Torah". 

Curious thing is that when they were confronted with Jesus Christ (the real Living Torah), they did not recognize Him. He was not a part of their system, and that is why they kept asking on what authority He operated (not invented here type problem for them).

What is curious, is that to such persons, Jesus called sons of the evil one, and look at the particular paradigm they operate from and that seems to replicate through time:

In the above article we see:

"... For instance, an apocalyptic Judaism could, and did, negate the importance of the Temple and levitical conduct; and a Judaism based on a levitical tradition, as was early rabbinism, could surpass the meaning of scripture’s words and suppress the supernaturalism and eschatology of apocalyptic speculation. "

 Overman, J. A., & Green, W. S. (1992). Judaism: Judaism in the Greco-Roman Period. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 3, pp. 1038–1039). New York: Doubleday.

Stephen the deacon was lapidated for negating the importance of the Temple, as he was getting in the revealed flow that Christ was the New Temple of God.

And note how the self proclaimed "living Torah" wisdom sages, "could surpass the meaning of scripture's words and suppress the supernaturalism and eschatology of apocalyptic speculation"

Jesus was all about apocalyptic revelation, and since it came from Him "real Living Torah" it quit being speculative, and was straight from the sent One from God. He was all about supernaturalism, as He explained that the Kingdom was entering this realm, and even prophesied that further believers would do greater works in that line.

Such veil the wisdom sages have, that cannot see that no one can prophecy the destruction of the Temple, and have it happen, unless is truly a direct envoy from God.

Was the wisdom sages system a human tradition trying to supplant real living Torah (Jesus)? it would seem so.

Different angle for further research, reflection and constructive comment if needed.

The above is an amalgamation of concept gathered from articles, mobile ed courses, and resources, not looking for academic rigor, but to spark your creativity into pursuing more concepts on the topic.

Some references below: please tell me if you get the below book in electronic form.

Very interesting topic, but not many resources specifically about it available: "living Torah"

Peace and grace.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 10 2022 3:29 PM

Some interesting material, Hamilton, but it doesn't directly answer my question of why the oral Torah/interpretative tradition is equated with the traditions of man by several Bible commentaries.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Beloved Amodeo | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 10 2022 7:37 PM

MJ. Smith:
directly answer my question of why the oral Torah/interpretative tradition is equated with the traditions of man by several Bible commentaries.
I do hope you find these two resources helpful. I've had the first for some time, but haven't come round to reading it yet. The second is part of the Neusner sale and can be had for the low, low price of $4.99.

https://www.logos.com/product/9073/torah-through-time 

https://www.logos.com/product/176815/torah-through-the-ages-a-short-history-of-judaism 

Meanwhile, Jesus kept on growing wiser and more mature, and in favor with God and his fellow man.

International Standard Version. (2011). (Lk 2:52). Yorba Linda, CA: ISV Foundation.

MacBook Pro macOS Big Sur 11.6 1TB SSD 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 10 2022 7:56 PM

Thank you. The first book is one of my favorites -- I had it in paperback long before Logos added it. The second I don't believe I have although I think it is on sale at the moment. It looks like it is worth checking out.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Norman Low | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 10 2022 8:04 PM

I am not sure what you are looking for, but these items may be of interest. (I am beginning a study in this area and have not read all of these works).

Overview: The Written Torah and the Oral Torah | My Jewish Learning

Introduction: The Written and Oral Torah: A Comprehensive Introduction | Logos Bible Software

This month there are a lot of books by Jacob Neusner for $5 that will go into as much detail as you want.

From a Messianic Jewish perspective that does not recognize the oral torah, see:

The Non-Torah: Exposing the Mythology of Divine Oral Torah, by The IAMCS

Rabbinic Judaism Debunked: Debunking the Myth of Rabbinic Oral Law by Eitan Bar and Golan Brosh

In support of the oral torah:

Oral Torah from Sinai: The Case for the  Authenticity of the Oral Torah by R. Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 10 2022 10:22 PM

Very useful. I did not know that the Karaites had company in the no Oral Torah category.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 11 2022 1:23 PM

MJ. Smith:
it doesn't directly answer my question of why the oral Torah/interpretative tradition is equated with the traditions of man by several Bible commentaries.

Way of true salvation:  expounded in Scripture, and determined by God.

On the other end, supposed guardians of oral torah: self designated as "living torah" and develop their own way (human tradition) to supposedly achieve salvation. 

So the issue comes across to me.

The real question is: if there is a way to obtain a credible source that proves there was an "oral torah" given by Moses, and what it consisted of.

Very interesting but the existence of an Oral Torah (the original), does not seem plausible. (ie not in line with the nature and character of God). 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Mar 11 2022 2:44 PM

Hamilton, I hate being blunt (impolite) but your comments are not helpful and have made me believe I cannot ask this type of question without some forum members violating the guidelines. I do not want to be an occasion for sin.

Hamilton Ramos:
The real question is: if there is a way to obtain a credible source that proves there was an "oral torah" given by Moses, and what it consisted of.

Yes, it is possible. Read up on either Rabbinic Judaism or Kabbalah  - the argument from scripture of the former is stronger than the latter. Read the Karaite Judaism literature for the rebuttal.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 13 2022 8:49 AM

MJ:

Maybe I am not communicating well. 

Is there a sure way to know what oral Torah given by Moses is? If there is, then comparing what groups teach with relation to what it truly consist about will tell you if there is human tradition in play or not.

Anecdotical evidence of the existence is not true objective evidence.

I do not think Moses gave Oral Torah apart from Scripture, because the ultimate revelation of God (Jesus Christ) never mentions the existence of a secret knowledge given to only a few to gain salvation through some strange means.

He did say:

Joh 14:6  "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

That is: Jesus is the way of Salvation, and He tells it like it is clearly and transparently.

He even told some leaders: if you truly were into Moses, you would be happy to see me here [super rough paraphrase], obviously they were not, so the implication is that they were far from Moses, and far from an Oral Torah given by Moses if there was one.

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