Extra-Biblical Oral Tradition Arguments Refuted:

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"The prophecy in Matthew 2:23, that Jesus would be called a Nazarene, comes from oral tradition only, not scripture."

False arguments that Catholics and Orthodox use to prove oral extra-scriptural church tradition are refuted.

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Click to View"The prophecy in Matthew 2:23, that Jesus would be called a Nazarene, comes from oral tradition only, not scripture."

He "came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: "He shall be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:23)

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Refutation of the false Catholic & Orthodox tradition argument:
"The prophecy in Matthew 2:23, that Jesus would be called a Nazarene, comes from oral tradition only, not scripture."

The prophecy in Matthew 2:23, that Jesus would be called a Nazarene, came directly from scripture, not oral tradition.

  1. Matthew got the prophecy directly from the Holy Spirit. Inspiration means that the prophecy did not come by an act of human will. We are offended that anyone would suggest the authors of the Bible rely upon human records and not the Holy Spirit. "no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Pet 1:20-21)
  2. Catholic and Orthodox defenders must contradict the traditional interpretation of the Fathers (Jerome) of Mt 2:23 and their own theologians. They are therefore violating the very principle of oral tradition and the "authority of the church" to interpret scripture, that they are trying to prove. Such an argument is as dishonest as it is self-defeating.
  3. Jerome says that Isa 11:1 is the Old Testament prophecy: "Once more it is written in the pages of the same evangelist, "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." Let these word fanciers and nice critics of all composition tell us where they have read the words; and if they cannot, let me tell them that they are in Isaiah. For in the place where we read and translate, "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots," in the Hebrew idiom it is written thus, "There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse and a Nazarene shall grow from his root." " (Jerome, Letter 47:7)
  4. Here is an incredibly hard pill for these Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders of tradition for swallow. The fact that Jerome applies Isa 11:1 to Mt 2:23 is bad enough. But Jerome is defending the scripture from those who said the prophecy was wrong. Instead of Jerome replying, "Hey its from oral tradition", he actually replied in exactly the same way we would and actually pointed out the Old Testament passage! Jerome calls these men, "word fanciers and nice critics of all composition". Jerome therefore would make the same criticism of all Roman Catholic and Orthodox defenders who say "its not in the Old Testament."
  5. Yet, the Old Testament clearly prophecies that Jesus will be called a Nazarene and there is no need to look to oral tradition.
  6. Notice it says "prophets" (plural) not a single prophet. This is an example of where Matthew combines the words of several different prophets to show the fulfillment. Clearly we are not looking for a single statement, but a combined meaning. We are looking for a theme.
  7. This is confirmed by Nathanael's comment in John 1:46, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"
  8. It is an error to confuse Nazarene with a Nazirite (Num 6:2-5).
  9. The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia gives us the answer: "In the manuscripts of the New Testament, the name [Nazareth] occurs in a great orthographical variety, such as Nazaret, Nazareth, Nazara, Nazarat, and the like. In the time of Eusebius and St. Jerome (Onomasticon), its name was Nazara (in modern Arabic, en Nasirah), which therefore, seems to be the correct name; in the New Testament we find its derivatives written Nazarenos, or Nazoraios, but never Nazaretaios. The etymology of Nazara is neser, which means "a shoot". The Vulgate renders this word by flos, "flower", in the Prophecy of Isaiah 11:1, which is applied to the Saviour. St. Jerome (Epist., xlvii, "Ad Marcellam") gives the same interpretation to the name of the town." (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, Nazareth)
  10. "Nazareth: separated, generally supposed to be the Greek form of the Hebrew netser, a "shoot" or "sprout."" (Easton's Bible dictionary, Nazareth)
  11. "Thus the word "Nazarene" carries with it an allusion to those prophecies which speak of Christ as "despised of men" (Isa. 53:3). Some, however, think that in this name there is an allusion to the Hebrew netser, which signifies a branch or sprout. It is so applied to the Messiah (Isa. 11:1), i.e., he whom the prophets called the Netse, the "Branch." (Easton's Bible dictionary, Nazarene)
  12. The Old Testament passages regarding branch are: Is 4:2; 11:1; 53:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12.
  13. The Old Testament passages that Christ was despised, humiliated and hated: Psa. 22:6-8; 69:8; Isa 49:7
  14. Here is a prophecy of the Branch who was Jesus: "Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord." Zechariah 6:12
  15. Isa 53 combines both the idea of "branch" and humiliation". "For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." Isaiah 53:2-3
  16. So to say you are a Nazarene would be personally humiliating and degrading. It would cause people to look down on you... just as Isa 53 says.
  17. Jesus wears the name with pride: Acts 22:8 "I am Jesus the Nazarene." I response to Paul, who may have been using the name as a slur before he was converted.
  18. Even if our etymological connection with Nazarene and neser (branch) is incorrect, it is still clear that he would be despised and looked down upon. In this way, the Hebrews, who despised and looked down upon Nazarenes, would immediately leap the logic and make the connection.
  19. For those Catholics who question that Nazarene is connected with shoot, they must contradict their own encyclopedia and the interpretation of Jerome.

 

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by Steve Rudd

 

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