Author Topic: oral tradition in the early fathers  (Read 242 times)

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Offline platypus

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oral tradition in the early fathers
« on: October 08, 2019, 11:02:23 AM »
I've been reading some of Fr. Robert Hart's (ACC) posts on the Continuum blog, and there was an idea repeated a couple of times that caught my eye:

Quote from: Fr. Robert Hart
Some people have confusion about the place of Scripture, forgetting that in Ecumenical (if you prefer, Oecumencial) Council the Fathers used the Scriptures to prove or disprove doctrinal ideas. They saw in the Scriptures the mind of Christ by his Apostles recorded in a public record, and were certain that no essential doctrine was established that was not written in them and drawn from them.
from https://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2010/02/real-mccoy.html

Quote from: Fr. Robert Hart
For all the talk about the Church Fathers, it is the Book of Common Prayer that relies on the actual Patristic method for establishing doctrine, i.e. the Faith as received and set forth in the Bible. If you doubt that, then actually read the Fathers. You will be shocked, some of you, by how much they come across like Evangelicals--they even "proof text."
from https://anglicancontinuum.blogspot.com/2010/12/myth-of-consensus.html

For us Orthodox, tradition is the authority, and scripture is an obviously very important part of that tradition. From the Anglican perspective, scripture is the authority and we look to tradition specifically as a way to understand the scripture (hopefully I'm not misrepresenting them). Off the top of my head, I can't find a way to disagree with Fr. Hart. For example, I just finished up Confessions by St. Augustine, and it was a constant stream of quotations from the psalter and gospels. The same goes for most of the patristic writing I've seen, except maybe the Apostolic fathers - which are sort of quasi-scripture and would naturally have difficulty quoting the New Testament since they were being written around the same time.

Can anyone think of, especially in the second or third century AD, Church fathers who appealed to an oral tradition to establish a doctrine without using scripture (or books they considered to be scripture at the time) to back it up?
"Eternal truth finds no favorable soil where one encounters at every turn the skeptical, sarcastic query 'what is truth,' where life insurance takes the place of eternal hope." -Hieromonk Antonius

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. -Ecclesiastes 12:8

Offline WPM

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Re: oral tradition in the early fathers
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2019, 05:55:31 PM »
The Orthodox priest vocally speaks from the Pulpit.

Offline platypus

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Re: oral tradition in the early fathers
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2019, 10:55:19 AM »
This chapter from Letters and Select Works of St. Basil makes the case for the authority of unwritten tradition, but I'm not sure that St. Basil would actually disagree with Fr. Hart. He mentions first and foremost the authority of unwritten tradition to establish practices like the sign of the cross, facing east in prayer, etc.

He does bring up the trinity as a doctrine not contained in Scripture, but as Fr. Hart points out the Council fathers who defined our belief in the triune God were using the scripture to prove it. All three persons of the Trinity are mentioned in scripture, even though the concept is not explained in a catechetical manner. So from the perspective of the scriptures as the source of doctrine and tradition as our understanding of it, the Trinity still makes sense.

The chapter leaves it unclear whether or not St. Basil would be on board with the idea of doctrine unmentioned by scripture.
"Eternal truth finds no favorable soil where one encounters at every turn the skeptical, sarcastic query 'what is truth,' where life insurance takes the place of eternal hope." -Hieromonk Antonius

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. -Ecclesiastes 12:8

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: oral tradition in the early fathers
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2019, 01:49:37 PM »
Can anyone think of, especially in the second or third century AD, Church fathers who appealed to an oral tradition to establish a doctrine without using scripture (or books they considered to be scripture at the time) to back it up?
The Easter controversy.
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

May the Blessed Light shine Forth

Offline platypus

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Re: oral tradition in the early fathers
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2019, 06:18:48 PM »
Can anyone think of, especially in the second or third century AD, Church fathers who appealed to an oral tradition to establish a doctrine without using scripture (or books they considered to be scripture at the time) to back it up?
The Easter controversy.

What doctrine was in question during the Easter controversy?
"Eternal truth finds no favorable soil where one encounters at every turn the skeptical, sarcastic query 'what is truth,' where life insurance takes the place of eternal hope." -Hieromonk Antonius

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. -Ecclesiastes 12:8

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: oral tradition in the early fathers
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2019, 12:16:58 AM »
Well, it's more about the Dathers arguing which tradition was older based solely on oral traditions.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2019, 12:17:14 AM by RaphaCam »
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

May the Blessed Light shine Forth