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When Jesus ascended into Heaven and vanished from the face of the earth, He left a Body, not "a book."[1] The apostles possessed personal knowledge of what He had revealed to them; this is the Deposit of Faith. He commanded them to preach to all nations, not to read and write books. Tradition came first. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for many different purposes, the apostles or their disciples put some parts of the Tradition into writing. As the New Testament writings became recognized by the Church as the Word of God, they became part of Tradition.

  • Tradition produced the Scriptures.
  • Tradition identified the Scriptures as divinely inspired.
  • Tradition interprets the Scriptures.
  • Tradition hands on the Scriptures from one generation to the next.

The Church is not based on the Bible. Rather, the Bible is based on, derived from, and produced by the Church.

It was the Church which collected the 27 scriptures of the New Testament.

It was the Church which declared these 27 texts to be sacred and inspired.

It was the Church which combined these 27 works of the New Testament with the 46 "books" of the Old Testament to produce the full collection of sacred writings that we have come to call "the Bible."

Until the invention of the printing press, no one read the sacred scriptures in isolation from the Christian community. The community provided the context for the text. The texts were written, preserved, and interpreted by people who knew what they meant. There never was a time when all Christians disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving the "scriptures alone" to cause the re-birth of the Body.


1 Corinthians 11:2
Ἐπαινῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς ὅτι πάντα μου μέμνησθε καί, καθὼς παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, τὰς παραδόσεις κατέχετε.
I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast (κατέχετε) to the traditions (παραδόσεις), just as I handed (παρέδωκα) them on to you.
The word κατέχετε caught my eye, but it does not seem to be from the same root as catechesis, which suggests "echoing what is taught."
2 Thesselonians 2:15
ἄρα οὖν, ἀδελφοί, στήκετε καὶ κρατεῖτε τὰς παραδόσεις ἃς ἐδιδάχθητε εἴτε διὰ λόγου εἴτε δι’ ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν.
Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.
2 Thessalonians 3:6
Παραγγέλλομεν δὲ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ στέλλεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ πάντος ἀδελφοῦ ἀτάκτως περιπατοῦντος καὶ μὴ κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν ἣν παρελάβετε παρ’ ἡμῶν.
We instruct you, brothers, in the name of [our] Lord Jesus Christ, to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us.
Philippians 4:9
ἃ καὶ ἐμάθετε καὶ παρελάβετε καὶ ἠκούσατε καὶ εἴδετε ἐν ἐμοί, ταῦτα πράσσετε· καὶ ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης ἐσται μεθ’ ὑμῶν.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.
2 Timothy 2:14-15
Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.
Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation.


Hebrews 13:7-9

7 Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching. It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them.


  1. I hate to call the Bible "a book." It is not "a book," but a twofold collection of books. It is a library, not "a book."