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The Mishna, the Tosepta and the Talmud have their place in the synagogue as texts to be studied, but they are not read in the liturgy. To it are added pericopes chosen from the Prophets. Conversely, Pharisaic and Rabbinic Judaism accept, alongside the written Law, an oral Law given simultaneously to Moses and enjoying the same authority. Clearly, a striking diversity is apparent from the manner of conceiving the role of Tradition. Scripture and Tradition in Early Christianity.

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In early Christianity, an evolution similar to that of Judaism can be observed with, however, an initial difference: early Christians had the Scriptures from the very beginning, since as Jews, they accepted Israel's Bible as Scripture. The Gospel catechesis took shape only gradually. To better ensure their faithful transmission, the words of Jesus and the narratives were put in writing. Thus, the way was prepared for the redaction of the Gospels which took place some decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

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In addition, professions of faith were also composed, together with the liturgical hymns which are found in the New Testament Letters. The Letters of Paul and the other apostles or leaders were first read in the church for which they were written cf.

Col , preserved to be read on other occasions and eventually accepted as Scripture cf. In this way, the canon of the New Testament was gradually formed within the apostolic Tradition. Tradition completes Scripture. Christianity has in common with Judaism the conviction that God's revelation cannot be expressed in its entirety in written texts.

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This is clear from the ending of the Fourth Gospel where it is stated that the whole world would be unable to contain the books that could be written recounting the actions of Jesus Jn On the other hand, a vibrant tradition is indispensable to make Scripture come alive and maintain its relevance. As a result of the Spirit's action, the tradition remains alive and dynamic.


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The Limits of the additional contribution of Tradition. To what extent can there be in the Christian Church a tradition that is a material addition to the word of Scripture? This question has long been debated in the history of theology. It likewise rejected the idea of a tradition completely independent of Scripture. Here, the extent to which Scripture and Tradition are inseparable can be seen.

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Relationship between the two perspectives. As we have shown, there is a corresponding relationship between Scripture and Tradition in Judaism and Christianity. From a hermeneutical viewpoint, however, perspectives differ. For all the currents within Judaism during the period corresponding to the formation of the canon, the Law was at the centre. Indeed, in it were to be found the essential institutions revealed by God himself governing the religious, moral, juridical and political life of the Jewish nation after the Exile.

The prophetic corpus contains divinely inspired words, transmitted by the prophets and accepted as authentic, but it contained no laws capable of providing an institutional base. From this point of view, the prophetic writings are of second rank. This hermeneutical perspective was not taken over by the Christian communities, with the exception, perhaps, of those in Judeo-Christian milieux linked to Pharisaic Judaism by their veneration of the Law. In the New Testament, the general tendency is to give more importance to the prophetic texts, understood as foretelling the mystery of Christ.

The apostle Paul and the Letter to the Hebrews do not hesitate to enter into polemics against the Law. Besides, early Christianity shared apocalyptic currents with the Zealots and with the Essenes apocalyptic messianic expectation; from Hellenistic Judaism it adopted a more extended, sapientially oriented body of Scripture capable of fostering intercultural relations. What distinguishes early Christianity from all these other currents is the conviction that the eschatological prophetic promises are no longer considered simply as an object of future hope, since their fulfilment had already begun in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.

It is about him that the Jewish Scriptures speak, in their whole extension, and it is in light of him that they are to be fully comprehended. Judaism derived from the Scriptures its understanding of God and of the world, as well as of God's plans.

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The clearest expression of how Jesus' contemporaries interpreted the Scriptures are given in the Dead Sea Scrolls, manuscripts copied between the second century B. However, these documents express only one aspect of the Jewish tradition; they come from within a particular current and do not represent the whole tradition. Irrespective of whether this attribution is well founded or not, these seven middoth certainly represent a codification of contemporary methods of argument from Scripture, in particular for deducing rules of conduct.

Another method of using Scripture can be seen in first century historical writings, particularly Josephus, but it had already been employed in the Old Testament itself. It consists of using biblical terms to describe events in order to illuminate their meaning. Thus, the return from the Babylonian Exile is described in terms that evoke the liberation from Egyptian oppression at the time of the Exodus Is The final restoration of Zion is represented as a new Eden.

Exegesis at Qumran and in the New Testament. With regard to form and method, the New Testament, especially the Gospels, presents striking resemblances to Qumran in its use of Scripture. The similarity in scriptural usage derives from an outlook common to both the Qumran community and that of the New Testament. Both were eschatological communities that saw biblical prophecies being fulfilled in their own time, in a manner surpassing the expectation and understanding of the Prophets who had originally spoken them. Exactly as in the Dead Sea Scrolls, certain biblical texts are used in the New Testament in their literal and historical sense, while others are applied in a more or less forced manner, to the contemporary situation.

Scripture was understood as containing the very words of God. Some interpretations, in both texts, take a word and separate it from its context and original meaning to give it a significance that does not correspond to the principles of modern exegesis. An important difference, however, should be noted.

In the Qumran texts, the point of departure is Scripture. Certain texts — for example the pesher of Habakkuk — are an extended commentary on a biblical text, which is then applied, verse by verse, to a contemporary situation; others are collections of texts dealing with the same theme, for example, 11 Q Melchisedeq on the messianic era.

In the New Testament, in contrast, the point of departure is the Christ event.

Neglected Endings: The Significance of the Pauline Letter Closings

It does not apply Scripture to the present, but explains and comments on the Christ event in the light of Scripture. The only points in common are the techniques employed, often with a striking similarity, as in Rm and in the Letter to the Hebrews. Rabbinic Methods in the New Testament. Traditional Jewish methods of scriptural argumentation for the purpose of establishing rules of conduct — methods later codified by the rabbis — are frequently used in the words of Jesus transmitted in the Gospels and in the Epistles.

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A particular trait is that the argument often revolves around the meaning of a single word. This meaning is established by its occurence in a certain context and is then applied, often in a very artificial manner, to another context. This technique has a strong resemblance to rabbinic midrash, with one characteristic difference: in the rabbinic midrash, there is a citation of differing opinions from various authorities in such a way that it becomes a technique of argumentation, while in the New Testament the authority of Jesus is decisive.

Paul in particular frequently uses these techniques especially in discussions with well-informed Jewish adversaries, whether Christian or not. Oftentimes he uses them to counter traditional positions in Judaism or to support important points in his own teaching. Rabbinic argumentation is also found in the Letters to the Ephesians and Hebrews. It uses figures and examples in a verbal chain structure in conformity with Jewish scriptural exegesis.

An particular form of Jewish exegesis found in the New Testament is the homily delivered in the synagogue. According to Jn , the Bread of Life discourse was delivered by Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum. Its form closely corresponds to synagogal homilies of the first century: an explanation of a Pentateuchal text supported by a prophetic text; each part of the text is explained; slight adjustments to the form of words are made to give a new interpretation.

Traces of this model can perhaps also be found in the missionary discourses in the Acts of the Apostles, especially in Paul's homily in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch Ac The New Testament frequently uses allusions to biblical events as a means of bringing out the meaning of the events of Jesus' life. The narratives of Jesus' infancy in the Gospel of Matthew do not disclose their full meaning unless read against the background of biblical and post-biblical narratives concerning Moses.

The infancy gospel of Luke is more in the style of biblical allusions found in the first century Psalms of Solomon or in the Qumran Hymns; the Canticles of Mary, Zechariah and Simeon can be compared to Qumran hymns. The reaction of listeners to Jesus' parables for example, the parable of the murderous tenants, Mt and par. Among the Gospels, Matthew shows greatest familiarity with the Jewish techniques in utilising Scripture.