Contemplating

Interpretation as Tradition

Antignos of Socho received the tradition from Shimon the Righteous. He would say: Do not be as slaves, who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as slaves who serve their master not for the sake of reward. And the fear of Heaven should be upon you.

-Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 1:3
quoted from Chabad.org

Back to Stern’s statement: replacing “tradition” with “interpretation” we could rewrite it to say: “There could never have been a time when interpretation of some sort was not a necessary adjunct to the written Torah.” Tradition claims legitimacy by appealing to the past for its authority, and is independent of scriptural anchoring; interpretation does not look to the past for legitimacy, but rather seeks an anchoring in the text itself. One dispute among the rabbis is whether certain halakhot were actually derived exegetically or whether they were an independent revelation.

-Rob Vanhoff
from his December 31, 2014 at 4:03 pm comment on his blog post Is there a core “Oral Torah” written in response to Peter Vest’s blog post Question for Rob Vanhoff

I’m dabbling into somewhat dangerous waters by invoking commentary written by Rob Vanhoff of TorahResource.com since typically, my theological orientation and Mr. Vanhoff’s (and his employer Tim Hegg) are not entirely compatible (I say that as an understatement).

But in reading Mr. Vest’s and Mr. Vanhoff’s dialog and then commentary from the book Pirke Avot: A Modern Commentary on Jewish Ethics, I started to ponder the relationship between interpretation and tradition in both Christianity (which includes the Hebrew Roots movement in my opinion) and Judaism (which I believe includes Messianic Judaism).

I should note at this point that I’m not writing this to challenge either Mr. Vest or Mr. Vanhoff (or Mr. Hegg). I’m not attempting to enter into yet another “I’m right and you’re wrong” debate. I just want to point out that, from my point of view, how we interpret the Bible is based on our traditions, both within Christianity and Judaism as I’ve defined them above.

The existence of the oral tradition is alluded to in the Written Law in numerous places.

For example:

The Torah says: (Deut. 12:20) “When G-d expands your borders as He promised you, and your natural desire to eat meat asserts itself, so that you say; ‘I wish to eat meat’, you may eat as much meat as you wish… you need only slaughter your cattle and small animals… in the manner I have commanded you.” Nowhere in the Written Torah is such a manner described. So what is the manner in which we are supposed to slaughter cattle?

Though the laws of slaughtering cattle are not explained in the Written Torah, they are described in detail in the Oral Law.

The Talmud tells the story of a Gentile who went to Hillel the Elder and said to him, “I want to convert, but I want to accept only the Written Torah, and not the Oral Torah. I don’t wish to accept the words of the Rabbis. So teach me only the Written Torah, and not the Oral Torah.”

But Hillel knew that the man wanted to do the right thing. He simply didn’t understand the purpose of the Oral Torah. So he began to teach him the Aleph Bais (Hebrew alphabet). The first day, Hillel the Elder taught him the first two letters, aleph, and bais (aleph and bet, for those who speak the Sefardic dialect).

The next day, Hillel the Elder taught him the same two letters in reverse. He showed him the letter aleph, and called it “bais.” The man objected, “but yesterday you taught it the other way!”

“Well, then, you need me, a Rabbi, to teach you the Aleph Bais? So you have to trust my knowledge of the tradition of the letters. What I tell you is the Oral Tradition. You can’t read the alphabet if no one tells you what it means. And you think you don’t need the Rabbis’ knowledge of Jewish Tradition in order to understand the words of the Torah? Those are much more difficult! Without an Oral Tradition you will never be able to learn the Torah.”

So it is clear that an Oral Tradition is needed, and that one exists.

-from “The Indispensable Oral Law”
BeingJewish.com

Moses received the Torah from Sinai and gave it over to Joshua. Joshua gave it over to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets gave it over to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] would always say these three things: Be cautious in judgement. Establish many pupils. And make a safety fence around the Torah.

-Pirkei Avot 1:1

oral lawWas there an Oral Law given to Moses by Hashem in parallel to the Written Law (Torah), and was that Oral Law passed down, generation by generation, in an absolutely unchanged manner, from Moses to Joshua, from Joshua to the Elders, from the Elders to the Prophets, and then from the Prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly, eventually being codified and making its way to modern Judaism?

It seems like a long shot, given that even the written Torah had “gone missing” for quite some time.

When they were bringing out the money which had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the Lord given by Moses. Hilkiah responded and said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. Then Shaphan brought the book to the king and reported further word to the king, saying, “Everything that was entrusted to your servants they are doing. They have also emptied out the money which was found in the house of the Lord, and have delivered it into the hands of the supervisors and the workmen.” Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, “Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

When the king heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book which has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord which is poured out on us because our fathers have not observed the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.”

2 Chronicles 34:14-21 (NASB)

The preservation of an unchanging Oral Torah across hundreds if not thousands of years would require that God sustain the Oral Law as He has the Written Law. I suppose it would make more sense to say that Oral Law as it’s conceived of in modern Judaism is the grand compilation of traditions that have accumulated over the centuries, but were not all given originally to Moses (if any of them were).

Question:

Can you explain why laws never seem to revert back to their original form? For example, some holidays are two days outside of Israel because of the difficulty with keeping time hundreds of years ago, which has since been resolved.

Answer:

Simply put, customs have the import of law since the Torah itself recognizes them as law. That makes sense, because the basis of Torah is not the book, but the people. How do we know the Torah is true? Because the people witnessed it, accepted it and passed down the tradition. So without tradition, we have no Torah.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Why Aren’t Customs Reversible?”
Chabad.org

Of course the belief that the Oral Law as it exists in Judaism today originated as a complete body of knowledge with Moses at Sinai is also a tradition and as such is considered factual, at least in Orthodox Judaism.

Now I admire the refined skill-set of a good kosher shochet, but what Dr. Stern sees as “evidence” for “oral Torah” from Deuteronomy 12:21 (כאשר צויתיך) is for me simply a pointer to what Moshe states elsewhere concerning slaughter: pour out all the blood, cover it with earth, don’t consume it, etc… I’m definitely a minimalist in this regard. Let’s keep in mind that the art of midrash (be it halakhaic or aggadic) consists first of positing a textual ‘gap’ and second of filling it!

-Vanhoff

On the other hand…

Hashem said to Moses, saying: “Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them that they shall make themselves tzitzis on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations. And they shall place upon the tzitzis of each corner a thread of turquoise wool. It shall constitute tzitzis for you, that you may see it and remember all the commandments of Hashem and perform them; and not explore after your heart and after your eyes after which you stray.

Numbers 15:37-39 (Stone Edition Chumash)

tzitzitSo how do Jewish men know how to tie tzitzit (keeping in mind there’s more than one tradition on how to do so)? Who taught the Jewish people the specific method of obtaining the blue dye to color the “thread of turquoise”? There is nothing in the (written) Torah describing how this is done, so how did Moses teach the Children of Israel how to observe this mitzvah? Is it possible that Moses had conversations with Hashem that were not recorded in writing? Was literally every second of every transaction between Moses and God put down in writing?

Probably not, otherwise the Bible in written form would be too large to carry.

But that’s supposition on my part. Still, I must admit that there are more than a few commandments in Torah where there is no written instruction for how to observe them.

Does that mean the Oral Law as it’s understood today is exactly as it was or may have been given to Moses at Sinai or later during the forty years in the desert?

From a human point of view, this seems doubtful, but if an Oral Law also comes from God, then nothing is impossible.

The Bible is the most authoritative element of Judaism. But it is not the only one. Just as it had been preceded by tradition, so was it soon followed by tradition, the “Oral Law,” which strives to penetrate into the essence of the Bible’s written word. The Oral Law strives to apply the teachings of the Bible to all the events of existence; to provide religious and moral standards for all of life’s activities; and to realize the Bible’s teachings in the whole Jewish community. This tradition, which was ultimately established in the Talmud, had at first to fight for recognition; subsequently, it too became a conservative factor in Jewish religious life.

-Leo Baeck, “The Essence of Judaism,”
New York: Schocken Books, 1948
quoted in “The Bible and the Talmud,” p.17
Pirke Avot: A Modern Commentary on Jewish Ethics

In Judaism, tradition is what tells a Jew what the Bible means. In Christianity, as Mr. Vanhoff states, a systematic method of interpretation does the same job.

So am I saying that Jews have tradition and Christians have interpretation? Well, not exactly. I’m saying that Jews are open in stating that tradition guides their Biblical interpretation and Christians believe that they have no tradition of interpretation…

..except that’s not true.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog post called Does the Church Interpret the Bible Based on Traditions. I’ll save you the trouble of reading the whole thing and give you the answer here: Yes!

In fact, I believe that every branch of Christianity, including all versions of Hebrew Roots, interpret the Bible based on some overt or covert set of traditions that transcend any “scientific” method of Biblical hermeneutics. I know I’m going to receive a significant amount of push back for making that statement. I know that many scholarly arguments can be leveled against me, showing me that Protestant Christianity and Hebrew Roots (they have more in common than you might imagine) use totally objective means by which to determine the true and factual meaning of the Biblical text.

Except if that were true, then I don’t think we’d see such dissonance between the pro-Jewish people and pro-Israel words of the Bible including the Apostolic Scriptures and the nature and function of the New Covenant, and how modern Protestant Christianity refactors the Bible to minimize or delete the role of Jews and national Israel in God’s redemptive plan for the world.

Much has been made of Martin Luther and the men of the Reformation and how they undid the abuses of the Bible by the Catholic Church, but the Reformation didn’t “reform” as much as you might think. Many traditions of the Church (Sunday worship rather than a Saturday Shabbat, the continued “gentilization” of Jesus Christ, the supersession of “the Church” in place of Israel) were maintained and survived to this very day in virtually all expressions of Christianity.

So it’s quite possible if we view Hebrew Roots as a minor “reformation” of Evangelical Christianity to believe they didn’t reform as much as you might think, including holding onto some (but not all) of the traditions of the Church, such as how to interpret certain sections of the Bible.

Interpretation of the Bible begins at translation, or so it’s said. I tend to believe that the first step in interpreting the Bible is how we already understand it based on who taught us our traditions. This is true whether you are a Baptist, an Orthodox Jew or operate in any other branch of Christianity or Judaism.

I’m always amazed at how people who have read a dictionary entry or two on “Mishnah” or “Talmud” become so quickly convinced that when they pick up the Soncino Bavli in English, they are reading the culture, worldview, and halachah of the 1st Century! Truth be told, most Messianics who are enamored with “rabbinic Judaism” have spent precious little time actually reading the rabbinic sources, even in translation. They’re willing to watch a YouTube video or two from a Cabad rabbi and think that they’ve just been educated in the finer details of rabbinic halachah and aggadah, and what is more, that their new knowledge informs “what Yeshua really thought and did.”

– from Tim Hegg’s comment on Rob Vanhoff’s aforementioned blog post

I just want to be clear that I don’t consider myself some sort of “expert” in Talmud or anything else. What I do want to emphasize is that we cannot separate our understanding of the Bible from our “religious orientation.” Sure, we can change religious orientations and thus our understanding of the Bible, but with some difficulty. I changed from a more “standard” Christian hermeneutic, to a Hebrew Roots perspective, and then finally to a viewpoint formed from various teachers within a Messianic Jewish context.

Does that make me right and everyone who disagrees with me wrong? Not at all. I have far more questions about the Bible and God than I have answers. I just want to point out that no one has raw, naked, unfiltered access to the Word of God such that they and only they know “the truth” about exactly what it says in every single detail. No Bible scholar worth his or her salt would make such a claim. That’s why Biblical research is ongoing and that’s why we study the Bible (hopefully) every day.

Coffee and BibleThis is like the African-American woman Tim Hegg describes in his comment on Vanhoff’s blog post, the one who believed that the Apostle Paul’s Bible was the King James translation. Her understanding (I have to assume based on limited information that this woman really did believe such a thing) is based on some sort of tradition she was taught and like many, most, or all religious people, tradition first became truth in her mind, and then absolute fact.

Even when we’re aware that we are guided by our traditions, that awareness isn’t going to be enough to keep us from continuing to be driven by said-traditions for the most part. Yoda may have said “You must unlearn what you have learned” (as shown in this brief YouTube video), but that’s easier said than done. Maybe Luke Skywalker could do that under the Jedi Master’s guidance, but in real life, once we learn something, we are very likely to stick with it, even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

Again, this isn’t a matter of one side being right and the other side being wrong. It’s a matter of all sides being guided and molded by tradition, even when we think we’re not. What we think is who we are.

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11 thoughts on “Interpretation as Tradition”

  1. The prophet Jeremiah gets a clear explaination from G-d about those who don’t practice the faith of Israel (Islam, Buddhist, Christianity) in both the Holy Land and outside the land will see there error (I.e: Nations). Jeremiah 16:15-21 http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1116.htm

    There traditions if not aligned with Israels will prove to have been just fruitless dogma up until there revelation which will point them back to HaShem. (Which is the purpose of creating humanity)

    Question though for you James: are you a Christian? …. Messianic Gentile? Do you equate christian & MG as the same in how the view scripture?

    Are you trying to find commonalities between Judaism and Christianity?

    Judaisms for the most part are rooted scripturally in regards to traditions and these traditions help us see G-ds commandments as related to our current era society…. Like Visiting the sick – Tzedakah & Ma’aser (traditions associated with how one should operationalize these commandments) etc….Teffilah, Tzitzit, Building a Succah, Shabbat, Prayer 3 times a day, Havruta, Grace after Meals, mikvahs, proper burial of deceased, Family purity laws, Kashrut …. For the most part all the traditions have a biblical (Tanach) root in them and Honor G-d.

    Christianity has what? Easter (which is?) , Sunday fellowship (which is a gathering of like minds to pray and worship the G-d of Israel and to pray to Jesus or Mary [depending on your branch] and hear the NT taught…. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Pentacost (Which is there version of Shavuot right? Because there word used is identical to it)…. Christian tradition to my knowledge never seen the value in Kashrut (meaning encouraging gradual and slow adherence to it) , they never seen value in family purity, never seen value in G-ds feast, and outside of orthodox and catholic Christianity praying from a siddur is viewed as ” Not being Spirit Led” etc …. The list could be infinite I assume.

    christianity and judaism differ on many levels they connect too on certain things (like feeding the poor … Judaism/The Jewish people overall (secular or religious) has been the leader in this arena inspiring religions like Christianity and Islam to incorporate these things in there faith system.)

    Can you explain what biblical root Christianity is attached to for there traditions?

  2. I don’t know if I can answer all your questions, BG. I identify as a Messianic Gentile based on my theological orientation. You could say I’m a Christian in that I am a disciple of Christ (Messiah) but I don’t hold to many/most/all of the traditions of the Church including their interpretive traditions. That said, and as I’ve written in this blog post, I believe all religious orientations have traditions by which they understand the Bible and how it defines our roles in relation to God. Even Christian and Jewish Biblical scholars admit to a certain amount of ambiguity in understanding the Bible and they don’t always agree with one another as to certain fundamental details (such as the debate between Hurtado and Dunn on whether Yeshua was worshipped as God very early in Christian history or only decades or centuries later).

    Of course, I cannot discount the good that I’ve seen many Christians in the Church do. I’ve seen many acts of charity and kindness from Christians and people who live their lives conformed to the will of God, even if I don’t agree with them on certain matters of theology and doctrine.

  3. Great topic James,!
    I agree that ones specific views or interpretation of Scriptural texts, is largely based one what denominational tradition one comes from that goes for Judaism and Christianity. Reform Judaism and other more secular bents interpret the Torah as well as the rest of Tanakh as a less the divine text, and seek to down play those mitzvot which are archaic and not fitting with modern society (I know I’m broad brushing there).
    The Church on the other hand with it’s cries against the “traditions of men”, has many traditions of man. Same can be said of the Hebrew Roots folks who are so hyper focused on Torah She’biktav alone and are very anti anything rabbinical.
    Every sect of faith Jewish or Christian has it’straditions. BG your tone against Christians is very harsh, the Church for all it’s flaws, has done wonderful things in terms of charity and other acts of righteousness. Don’t be so quick to throe the Babbitt with the bath water.
    Kol tuv

  4. Thanks for the comment, Tony. I agree that the various branches and denominations we see in Judaism and Christianity (and probably every other religious expression) seem based on what these groups do and don’t accept as “Biblical” or otherwise authoritative. This was as true of Judaism in the first century as it is today, although it’s my understanding (from Rabbi Carl Kinbar) that in the first century, all of the “Judaisms” agreed on a core set of Torah principles but then differed in many other areas (for instance, the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and the Sadducees did not).

    It seems we always have to insert our human natures in between us and the Bible. This is why I believe that no religious stream has the corner market on “truth,” since we are always filtering that “truth” with our human needs and desires.

  5. James said: “Even Christian and Jewish Biblical scholars admit to a certain amount of ambiguity in understanding the Bible and they don’t always agree with one another as to certain fundamental details (such as the debate between Hurtado and Dunn on whether Yeshua was worshipped as God very early in Christian history or only decades or centuries later).”

    Of course! If you’ve ever read a tractate in the Mishnah or Talmud you’ll see that disagreements are the norm and are expected. But they don’t disagree (to my knowledge) on the core issues.

    Such as G-d is one, we are to worship Him and Him alone and no one else, pay honor to no one else.

    The disagreements stem from how we should operationalize the commandments to bring honor unto G-d.

    The traditions in Judaism are a reflection of PROPER interpretation and operationalizing what G-d gave to the Jewish people/Israel.

    Christianity’s traditions, reflect a POOR interpretation and dis-connect of G-ds word, do you agree or disagree?

    James Said: “Of course, I cannot discount the good that I’ve seen many Christians in the Church do. I’ve seen many acts of charity and kindness from Christians and people who live their lives conformed to the will of God, even if I don’t agree with them on certain matters of theology and doctrine.”

    Who’s discounting them? They have a faith system that encourages such acts of charity and kindness, so its expected they should adhere right? I’ve seen this statement many time on your archive blogs. Is this some way of “justifying” christians so they don’t get offended with you?

    Hashem is everywhere! He can cause christianity and islam to do His will, even Nebuchadnezzar was HaShems servant and did His will (Jeremiah 27) so whether there “for G-d” or not, is moot in G-ds divine plan because all can be worked for good unto HaShem, but as Jeremiah 16 explains those nations (who’ve gone generation after generation dogmatically practicing something foreign to the Tanach will see there error and come to the true faith [Judaism] which will point them toward HaShem leading to Teshuvah.

  6. @Tony — You said “BG your tone against Christians is very harsh, the Church for all it’s flaws, has done wonderful things in terms of charity and other acts of righteousness. Don’t be so quick to throe the Babbitt with the bath water.”

    Again with the charity and acts of righteousness “justifications”, no one is denouncing or discounting them. Islam does great things of charity too tony, why not give them kudos? Or Buddhist? Judaism has been doing it longer then any of them…. What’s the point, in those statements?

    You appear defensive over the statements I made, am I wrong?

    What I’m saying is Judaism traditions are a reflection of proper interpretation of the Tanach.

    Christianity’s traditions are a reflection of poor interpretations of the Tanach.

    Would you agree or disagree Tony?

    And please cite what “appeared” “harsh” when I was discussing christianity?

  7. BG said:

    The traditions in Judaism are a reflection of PROPER interpretation and operationalizing what G-d gave to the Jewish people/Israel.

    Christianity’s traditions, reflect a POOR interpretation and dis-connect of G-ds word, do you agree or disagree?

    I agree that Christianity is guilty of (in my opinion) misinterpreting the scriptural text to bias its meaning in favor of Gentile Christianity and against (to varying degrees) the centrality of national Israel and the Jewish people in God’s redemptive plan for the world.

    That said, I don’t literally believe every single midrash that was ever written. In fact, I wrote a five-part series, starting Here in part one investigating the Chabad’s view on midrash. Also, I don’t necessarily agree with the Talmudic sages “retrofitting” the partriarch such that Abraham separated meat and dairy dishes when he served his three visitors by the oaks of Mamre (see Genesis 18:8). Of course, the Church also retrofits its theology and doctrine onto the text as we see in the Christianization of Acts 15 for example.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s a tremendous amount we can learn about Yeshua-faith from studying midrash as illustrated in my book review of Roy Blizzard’s work Mishnah and the Words of Jesus. That’s why I study as a Messianic Gentile and not in a traditional Christian manner. I just don’t think that literally every single tradition or interpretation ever produced by all Rabbinic sages over the long centuries always produces the one and only way to interpret the Bible. I think we’re all human and project our requirements onto the Bible.

    When Yeshua came to us the first time, one of the things he did was to interpret Torah from the authority of Heaven. I believe he will do so again upon his return.

    BG said:

    Who’s discounting them? They have a faith system that encourages such acts of charity and kindness, so its expected they should adhere right? I’ve seen this statement many time on your archive blogs. Is this some way of “justifying” christians so they don’t get offended with you?

    No, I make such statements because I believe they are true. I’ve seen living examples of Christians “doing Torah,” the “weightier matters of the Law,” they just don’t call it that. I believe that when Messiah comes, many from “the Church” will learn the authoritative interpretation and meaning of scripture about the Messiah, national Israel, and the Jewish people, and we Gentiles will come alongside of them under King Messiah. We all make some sort of mistake about what the Bible says. At a human level, our various denominations and branches are both a result of our human faults and the drive to draw closer to God through His Word.

    At some point, we will be offered the opportunity to repent when our mistakes are pointed out to us (or before by the prompting of the Holy Spirit) and to turn to the true meaning of God’s will for our lives.

    As far as Islam goes, I don’t know since my perspective primarily takes in Judaism and Christianity as religious forms. Still, as it is written, “every knee shall bow” (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10) so who is to say that even some Muslims and even many from other religions as well as atheists will repent and turn to God? There will be a judging for those who don’t.

  8. Men’s decisions on what people are to do to carry out Torah have been added onto, and changed, and amplified generation after generation from the days of Moshe, and none of them are guaranteed to be exactly correct, accurate and right. When the customs and traditions of the Jews, always in flux from generation to generation, were oral, and not written as semi-divinely inspired opinions, there was little difficulty. No one was claiming to be right, or if they were, they were obviously wrong.

    Once, however, anything was written down as authoritative, and even in defiance of the written Torah, we began to have the Rabbi’s ideas presented as commandments of G-d, for G-d supposedly gave the Rabbi’s authority to over-ride Torah. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that…it’s not written in Torah. In fact, the opposite is so.

    The written Torah, a thorough study of customs and traditions, and a skeptical reading of what the Rabbi’s think, under the guidance of the Ruach haKodesh have to be enough…for me, at least.

    Like James, I was not brought up to any religion, and have a lot less tradition to discard to attempt performing the mitzvoth, and as a Gentile, I am not required to carry the entire obligation of Torah because G-d did not make me one of the Chosen People, nor has He told me to convert…yet.

    That does not make me a Christian…particularly since I follow none of their traditions, but I am viewed as such…as if there can only be Rabbinical Jews who are correct in all they do and say. To be a good Jew is to supposedly follow the Rabbi’s directives even when they are in direct contradiction with what is written in Torah. To be a Christian at all one must believe in a trinity of gods, and I don’t. I also don’t attend church, nor follow their holy days, and I doubt a good deal of what they do and believe because it is so confused with pagan rites and men’s traditions that finding the Mashiach in their gatherings is hard.

    But it is not impossible for Gentiles, even Christian Gentiles, to walk in many weird ways and still be devoted to YHVH through His representative Yeshua, just as it is not impossible for Jews to follow the Rabbinical directives and reasoning and traditions, and still be devoted to YHVH.

    We, Christians, Gentiles, and Jews are men, and we are getting some of it wrong simply because we are men, and not able to understand all that YHVH really wants. And in the end, it is only by His mercy that we learn, and grow, and get better at pleasing Him, and it is only by faith that any of us are acceptable to G-d.

  9. James,

    I think you are missing Catholicism in your discussion, they are very proud of their traditions, and adhere to it as authoritative.

    The difference with Protestant Christianity is that despite the various denominations, tradition is not shunned, instead they simply believe tradition to not be authoritative. So you have people observing the the grey areas of the bible in their own comfortable interpretation. Whether right or wrong.

    In “Hebrew Roots” groups, there is a mix, just like in “Messianic Judaism”.

  10. I didn’t include Catholicism because I’ve never been involved with the Catholic church and don’t have first hand experience with their traditions. My point is that I believe all religious streams use, to one degree or another, traditions by which they interpret the Bible. No one is immune.

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