As we have shown, there is a corresponding relationship between Scripture and Tradition in Judaism and Christianity
Tradition completes Scripture. Christianity has in common with Judaism the conviction that God’s revelation cannot be expressed in its entirety in written texts. 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.
It is worth recalling here the teaching of the Farewell Discourse on the role of “the Spirit of truth” after Jesus’ departure. He will remind the disciples of all that Jesus said (Jn ), bear witness on Jesus’ behalf (), and lead the disciples “into all the truth” (), giving them a deeper understanding of the person of Christ, his message and work. As a result of the Spirit’s action, the tradition remains alive and dynamic.
Having affirmed that the apostolic preaching is found “expressed in a special way” (“speciali modo exprimitur”) in the inspired Books, the Second Vatican Council observes that it is Tradition “that renders a more profound understanding in the Church of Sacred Scripture and makes it always effective” (Dei Verbum 8). Scripture is defined as the “Word of God committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit”; but it is Tradition that “transmits to the successors of the apostles the Word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and by the Holy Spirit to the apostles, so that, illumined by the Spirit of truth, they will protect it faithfully, explain it and make it known by their preaching” (DV 9).
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. The Second Vatican Council appears to have left the matter open, but at least declined to speak of “two sources of revelation”, which would be Scripture and Tradition; it affirmed instead that “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture constitute a unique sacred deposit of the Word of God which is entrusted to the Church” (Dei Verbum 10). It likewise rejected the idea of a tradition completely independent of Scripture. On one point at least, the Council mentions an additional contribution made by Tradition, one of great importance: Tradition “enabled the Church to recognise the full canon of the Sacred Books” (DV 8). Here, the extent to which Scripture and Tradition are inseparable can be seen.
The Council concludes: “Consequently, it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws its certainty about everything which has been revealed” and adds: “That is why both – Scripture and Tradition – must be accepted and venerated with the same sense of devotion and reverence” (DV 9)
11. On one point, there is a greater correspondence, since both religions share a common heritage in the “Sacred Scripture of Israel”. 23
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 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 the original source God himself governing the religious, moral, juridical and political life of the Jewish nation after the Exile. From this point of view, the prophetic writings are of second rank. The “Writings” contain neither laws nor prophetic words and consequently occupy third place.