Extra-Biblical Oral Tradition Arguments Refuted:
"Paul got the names 'Jannes and Jambres' in 2 Timothy 3:8-9, from oral tradition."
False arguments that Catholics and Orthodox use to prove oral extra-scriptural church tradition are refuted.
"Paul got the names 'Jannes and Jambres' in 2 Timothy 3:8-9, from oral tradition."
Jannes and Jambres: "Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes's and Jambres's folly was also." 2 Timothy 3:8-9
"That Paul is not asserting the sole sufficiency of the Scriptures (in 2 Timothy 3:16) is confirmed by verse 8 of the same chapter: Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith (2 Tim 3:8). Paul is referring here to the court magicians of Pharaoh. (Ex. 7:11-12). Notice, however, that the Book of Exodus does not provide the name of the magicians. Where, then, does Paul get the names Jannes and Jambres? From Jewish tradition. In the very same chapter in which Paul extols the value of the Scriptures, he himself quotes non-scriptural tradition. If he believed that the Scriptures are self-sufficient, then he was not very consistent." (THE WAY: What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox Church, Clark Carlton, 1997, p 123)
Refutation of the false Catholic & Orthodox tradition argument:"Paul got the names 'Jannes and Jambres' in 2 Timothy 3:8-9, from oral tradition."
Sola Scriptura: Paul got the names 'Jannes and Jambres' in 2 Timothy 3:8-9, from the Holy Spirit!
- Paul got the names 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)
- In 405 AD, John Chrysostom concluded that the names came from direct inspiration, and not tradition. This agrees with us exactly! "Who are these? The magicians in the time of Moses. But how is it their names are nowhere else introduced? Either they were handed down by tradition, or it is probable that Paul knew them by inspiration." (John Chrysostom, Commentary on 2 Timothy 3:8, Homily 8)
- The names were not part of an oral tradition, but were recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Talmud, Targums, various rabbinical writings and Pliny: "Jannes and Jambres, one or both, are also mentioned by Pliny, 23-79 AD" (ISBE, Jannes and Jambres). Origen suggested that Paul got the names from "the Book of Jannes and Jambres". Also known as "Jannes and Mambres" (see Origen Commentary on Matthew 27:8) The book of Jannes and Jambres appears to have been written in the first or second century based upon four extant manuscripts that contradict each other.
- Which Jewish of these written traditions was correct? It has not dawned upon these Orthodox and Catholic "oral tradition defenders" that for tradition to mean anything, there must only be one tradition that is universally accepted. When there are many contradictory traditions, all are worthless. "There are many curious Jewish traditions regarding Jannes and Jambres. These traditions, which are found in the Targum and elsewhere, are full of contradictions and impossibilities and anachronisms." (ISBE, Jannes and Jambres)
- We do not deny that Jannes and Jambres were universally known by name among the Jews. But we are in utter shock that Clark Carlton would say that Paul "himself quotes non-scriptural tradition". Where, then, does Paul get the names Jannes and Jambres? From direct revelation of the Holy Spirit!
- To say that Paul quoted "non-scriptural tradition" in naming Jannes and Jambres, is like saying quoted from "non-scriptural tradition" in naming Jesus of Nazareth, as the one who died upon the cross. The story of the Christ's crucifixion was as universally known among the Jews in 40 AD as was the names of Jannes and Jambres.
- But there were errors in the oral tradition of Moses, that scripture did not record, as there were in the crucifixion story. For example, the oral tradition among the Jews was that the disciples stole the body. Scripture records, "this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day". (Matthew 28:11-15)
- So there was oral tradition in both Moses and the crucifixion, but scripture confirms by direct stamp of approval of the Holy Spirit, which traditions are valid and which are not.
- It is ridiculous for Orthodox and Catholic to use the case of "Jannes and Jambres" as proof they should have a blank "oral tradition" cheque today. Just as there was invalid oral tradition regarding the disciples stealing the body, so too there is invalid oral tradition in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
- It was the Holy Spirit who chose the names to use. Paul did not merely borrow from his own fallible human information resource. Jannes and Jambres were divinely inspired revelations, not some tradition. Carlton sounds like the Bible-trashing, liberal theologians who see the Bible as the product of human effort.
- Now don't misunderstand us. We have no doubt that the names were in fact "common knowledge" among the Jews and that Paul is not revealing the names as much as he is making a point on knowledge they already had. But it was the Holy Spirit that confirmed the names as genuine.
- Paul did not, by human choice and knowledge, insert the names by his own will. The Holy Spirit directly revealed the names to Paul.
- And notice just how insignificant an example Carlton can find: The mere names of two men. This is his best and only example! Yet, the Bible is full of stories, like the woman at the well, in Jn 4 or the eunuch in Acts 8, whose names we do not know. Many people in the first century knew the names of these two people, but makes no difference to our faith if we do not know. The Holy Spirit never told us for sure, who wrote some of the books of the Bible like Hebrews, and many of the Old Testament books. That's because it doesn't matter.
- We do not deny that Jewish tradition correctly named the two magicians, we maintain that the source most certainly was not Jewish Tradition, but inspiration of the Holy Spirit that merely confirmed such a tradition. It was the Holy Spirit, who chose to name the magicians, not Paul, just as scripture says: "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Peter 1:20-21)
- We also want to remind the reader that there are many examples of where Jewish tradition was wrong, and the Holy Spirit did not allow these errors into scripture. For Carlton though, this is his best example in scripture he can come up with. He even praises Fr. John Whiteford for pointing this example of oral tradition out to him! Before that, Carlton had no examples of oral tradition.
- We stand utterly amazed that Carlton considers the names Jannes and Jambres to be his "holy grail example" of tradition in scripture! This is his top example! Names! He gets so excited over this "mount Everest" discovery, that you would think the "oral tradition" was the exact date for Easter! (Which Catholics and Orthodox have always fought over, each claiming their tradition is the TRUE one.)
- Well because Carlton is so easily excited, we carefully and quietly say the word, "Hanukkah" to him. (This will no doubt end up in his next revision of his book, and he will no doubt express his "gratitude" to me for pointing it out to him.) Hanukkah is a non-biblical Jewish feast day, of a purely human origin that was instituted by Judas Machabeus in 164 B.C. mentioned in 1 Maccabees 4:56, and referenced in the New Testament: "At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem" John 10:22.
- Another human origin celebration was that of Jephthah's daughter: "Thus it became a custom in Israel, that the daughters of Israel went yearly to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year." (Judges 11:39-40)
- The key is that if the Jews stopped celebrating Hanukkah or the 4 days of commemoration for the daughter of Jephthah, God would not get angry. But God did get angry when they had stopped keeping his Sabbaths and other Jewish holy days revealed by Moses.
More Pro-Oral Church tradition arguments refuted!
More Anti-Sola Scriptura arguments refuted!
by Steve Rudd
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